Barbiegirls tries something new-ish

At Virtual Worlds 2008 in April, Mattel Announced that it would be phasing out the physical toys and MP3 players that granted users VIP access to its BarbieGirls.com virtual world  and replacing them with a subscription. Details of the V.I.P. plan are set to be announced today. For $5.99 per month, users can deck their characters out in V.I.P.-only tiara, gain access to new regions like a fantasy theme park or a tree house for pets, play new multiplayer games, and purchase exclusive virtual goods.

Virtual Worlds News: BarbieGirls Launches V.I.P. Subscription Service

Wowza.  In this great debate (at least in my head) of subscription vs product, Barbiegirls – with was (arguably) one of the most successful VW(ish) ventures of 2007 makes a bold move from product-based purchase to subscription.

This doesn’t surprise me too much.  In the competition of products, it was much more difficult (in my opinion) to take on BOTH the low prices of some youth subscriptions AND the MP3 player market.  Barbie Mp3 player was a cool idea (in regards to trying something new), but it was WAY expensive.  Not to mention you’re selling it to 8-13 year olds who aren’t stupid enough to want a little kiddish mp3 player over an ipod (this is the group that wants to fit in and look cool, and not necessarily look their age or younger).  Granted, that mp3 player probably did “all right” with the 6 – 9 demo, but that’s just a small section of the overall tween girl market. 

Again, it was a nice idea, just not the right idea for the overall market.  Too much of a barrier to entry.

I’ve not been in Barbiegirls for quite some time now, but always found it MUCH better than Bratz in regards to offerings, abilities, etc.  I’m not quite sure I believe it’s a virtual world… as I’ve mentioned before, there are several entities out there claiming “virtual world” recognition, but are really just dynamic sites with some virtual elements.  I’m pretty sure Barbiegirls will add some new support – they were the shining diamond of Virtual Worlds conference in NY, or at least that’s the word on the street.

Bratz i thought would be some sort of contender for competition w Barbiegirls, but really failed to step up.  Now Barbiegirls should keep their eyes sharp as Pixie Hallow will be flying into computers everywhere – and I’m DEFINITELY psyched to see what they have to offer – with subscription model AND “clickables” – the new product tie in which encourages girls to share (and we all know that sharing means caring).  Disney’s Fairies have been a hot commodity for the 6+ group, and that’s directly in the face of Barbiegirl’s consumers.

Good thing kids are multitaskers.  They like multiple worlds.  So the competition is really within our little groupling of VW eagle eyes and… of course… parents w wallets.

Really, I just look forward to seeing all the great ideas that come from companies with bigger budgets to spend. 

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