Nickelodeon Establishes a VW Division

Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group is launching two new groups to focus on some of its evolving media strengths, virtual worlds and gaming, reports PaidContent. Dave William, formerly in charge of MTVN’s Shockwave and Addicting Games sites, will run the Games Group, and while Kyra Reppen, former SVP and GM of Neopets, will serve as SVP and GM the Virtual Worlds Group. Williams and Reppen will report to Steve Youngwood, Nick’s EVP, Digital Media. Nick has been focusing efforts in the area for some time, announcing in July a planned investment of $100 million in virtual worlds and casual games and, at the same time, announcing plans to bring one new world out of Neostudios per year. Emphasizing the wider approach to virtual worlds, though it’s been discussed before, it seems like Neostudios is now officially the Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group Virtual World Studios.

Virtual Worlds News: Nickelodeon Creates Virtual Worlds Division; Kyra Reppen to Lead

As my neopet turns 1000 days of existence, I am happy to hear his (Colin – my neopet) home of homes, Nickelodeon, is making the right steps to truly enter this Virtual World ring.  It’s one thing to put up a load of cashola… it’s quite another to publicly announce strategic planning in the CREATION of  virtual world department – people whose soul responsibility is to represent the brand as the brand should exist in a market they know and understand.  W00t. 

I always get privately confused/frustrated when I hear of companies who are lumping the development of virtual worlds on an area within the CO that has nothing to do with the medium.  You wouldn’t ask the HR department to plan and execute a  book deal, would you?  Same reason why you don’t ask a cartoon writer team, or a marketing team to concoct and build a virtual world.

It’s exciting to see big dog companies (such as Nickelodeon/Viacom, Disney Interactive, and Cartoon Network) make such deliberate, appropriate developmental steps for this industry.  By building VW divisions within multimedia companies – there might be a huge SIDE STEP for a lot of the less-than-stellar ads/marketing initiatives, etc, that have gotten so many people “up in arms.” 

Think about it, if you know… i mean REALLY know this VW market: you understand the concerns from parents, the legal limits, the audience preference, competitive markets, research, theories, who has REAL success (not just PR spun success), what adult virtual worlds & MMO’s are doing, educational values, entertainment needs, gaming frontiers, etc…. You understand this because it’s your JOB – your sole job, just as a Chef knows the purpose of every tool and the taste of every spice a kitchen.  As a VW-employed individual, you know what ad types to avoid, all aspects of viral marketing and the success rates for each demographic, where the save experimentation with innovation vs the not smart experimentation (and almost dangerous).  You know the scalability issues, the hiring & outsourcing needs, the path-to-market woes, the technical possibilities, and the financial situations.  If you DON’T know these things, then sheesh, what are you doing?

Companies would spend a lot less time throwing “crap” at the wall (waiting to see if any sticks), and a lot more time making successful campaigns.

Virtual Worlds for youth = precarious things indeed.  There’s a lot of possibility for empowerment and social growth and self esteem boosting, but there’s also a lot of possibility to muck it up.  I dunno… PERSONALLY, I think the LAST demographic in the world that I would ever wish to “muck up” would be OUR CHILDREN, ya know… the FUTURE.  Call me crazy, you wouldn’t be the first.

Anyway, props to Nickelodeon, and props to Kyra Reppen – who I haven’t met, but I have heard great things about.  Sounds like she’ll do a rock solid job!  Rad.

Now, on to sprucing up Neopets (please), rethinking some of those (ahem) ads, and bringing forth Neopets MMO, Monkey World (??), and whatever they can do with Spongebob Squarepants (Giant ????).  I have the faith!

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