Homemade replacement worlds

The news that Disney would be shutting down Virtual Magic Kingdom on May 21, hit fans hard [see these comments]. Some have taken to petitions and write-in campaigns, others are looking to roll out their own replacement. A “small group of technology specialists and engineers who primarily create complex internet applications for insurance companies and universities” has spent 8 months adapting those skills to working on social networks and virtual worlds. Originally intended to create a business platform, the technology instead became the background for Virtual Family Kingdom.

Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom isn’t specifically referenced as an inspiration and the first area being shown off on Virtual Family Kingdom is a Colonial Williamsburg setting instead of a Frontierland or Adventureland. The VFK site does, though, host a banner ad for the VMK petition sites, and is set to launch in beta on May 22, a day after Disney’s virtual world is set to shut down. And also available are Victorian Turn of the Century Main Street settings and a Wild West theme.

Virtual Worlds News: Homemade Virtual Family Kingdom Set to Replace Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom

Hmm. I give a weary eye to this. Read more about the “replacement vmk” by clicking that link. Does anyone else have yellow flags on this?

It’s nice someone wants to cater to the misplaced crowd, but there’s something weird that catces my concern.

Turning business PR/strategy from “building your own unique web environment” to “giving a replacement for another brand/world who is leaving the space” reminds me of offering a shoulder to cry on and then making out with them at their weak point. Why? Because not only are they offering a solution for momentary homelessness – they’re then charging for it.

I “get” the charging part. Got to make money to survive. I just don’t get the “temporary home” offer and capitalizing it.

I could be overreacting. Wouldn’t be the first time. I’m just saying that– my skeptical eye is planted on this joint.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? Am I over looking a great pro/con point?

p.s. Here’s some more commentary on VMK closing (just click this link)

When Disney Parks (I still hate that name for the division — could it be any less magical) wanted an online promotion as part of the world wide celebration of Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary, they paid Disney Online to set it up for them. Disney Online then went and licensed the software from Sulake Corporation to build the Virtual Magic Kingdom. I understand that Disney Online also did some additional programming work on top of what Sulake provided.

There have been some discussions recently that VMK is closing due to the original licensing agreement with Sulake coming to an end. Sulake did just sign an ‘exclusive’ agreement with Paramount Studios to provide virtual worlds for their film properties. That may have had something to do with it, but I haven’t been able to confirm that one way or another.

What I am hearing is that Disney Parks considers the 50th Anniversary promotion all wrapped up. They cut off funding for the project to Disney Online many months ago and that Disney Online has been looking at ways to continue VMK since then despite the loss of internal funding.

Read more at Saving VMK: Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom Community receives a death sentence | The Disney Blog

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  1. Grace
    April 17, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    I completely agree. Even if they’re actually creating a game here, it’s completely sketchy. The first version of their website (it appeared in the middle of the night after the closing announcement) was identical to the VMK Beta page. This page also had stolen art from Barbie Girls and VMK- not the way I’d want to present myself if I was really a legitimate organization! Lots of kids think it’s a Disney product- the whole thing is just sad.

    They’ve also registered vmkv2.com, which is, again, sketch town. Considering how awesome VMK was, they’re going to have some angry customers on their hands if they can’t live up to the expectations these people will have.

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