Fingers Crosssed: Avatar’s MMO

Also at Comic-Con over the weekend, Nickelodeon unveiled plans to launch an Avatar: The Last Airbender 3D massively multiplayer online game based on the animated series. The beta version for Avatar: Legends of the Arena, which will serve as a prequel to the series, is set for launch in 81 markets and in 10 languages on September 15, 2008. In the game each level will introduce and unlock new content, challenges, custom character outfits and the like. Additionally, tomorrow marks the DVD release of Avatar: The Last Airbender Book 3: Fire Volume 4.

Cynopsis – Kid’s Edition

I’m so freaking, freaktastically jazzed right now. AHHHHHHHHHHHH. I LOVE LOVE Avatar: The Last Airbender, and I’m relatively sure I’ve only GUSHED about wishing for an MMO for about a year now.

I just got a bit of secret confirmation that the MMO will be based off the cartoon and NOT the movie (which, despite all the nay-sayers, I’m still holding out for – I’m uber curious).

Now… who will I be? Probably get sorted (oh dear, Harry Potter terms leaking out in lieu of a better word) into the Fire Nation – being the fiesty Aries that I am. But I will not support the Fire Lord (unless someone gives me good Fire rational in game play). Water Nation would be wicked, but sadly, not my personality at all. Perhaps Earth or Air? Hmmm… and now I’m just wandering aimlessly into Avatar geekdom.

Here’s the real question: Quality (here’s hoping) and Demographic?

Quality: It’s a well known fact that most console games based on IPs suck. And as for Virtual Worlds? Well.. we’re in transition time right now. People are coming up with great concepts, but not always solid in execution. Buggy, lack of long-term objectives, laziness due to heavy leaning on IP/Brand to carry and not the actual quality of experience… etc. Loads of times it’s the WRONG people coming up with the agenda – and moving it towards $$ and the exploitation of the brand, and not towards the heart & soul of the property or the audience experience. Avatar is one of the BEST production values I’ve seen in cartoons (even for its anime look) – I’m telling you… some of those martial arts moves are so detailed, it’s more than impressive. Avatar fans are a solid sub-culture. They love deeply, but are not quite obsessed. So… having said that – if you present an experience that is less than top notch quality? It’s going to be a hard sell. I’d rather not have anything to do with a B- world for Avatar, and you KNOW how obsessed I am with VW’s.

Demographic: Yikes. This part scares me. Avatar: The Last Airbender has TWO demographics… the typical Nickelodeon audience (4 – 10, etc), and twenty-somethings+ (sub culture enthusiasts who still love cartoons). You can make an Avatar experience for kids (re: Nicktropolis & the game on DS) that is easy for the youngin’s, but will completely alienate folks like me. Avatar: The Last Airbender was not written in a way that beats you over the head with over-the-top-spongebob-simplicity. It’s not Dora the Explorer. It’s deep and conflicted, and it has something for people of all ages. Creating an MMO experience that rides the line for both? That’s going to be the rub. The challenge. Let’s hope that the powers-that-be create an experience COMPLETELY fitting the overal ATLA books/tv, etc, IP, and that they’re not swayed by quick/easy/young. Otherwise it might just be a flash-in-the-pan?

Can you tell I’m nervous? Lol. I only hope it does as successfully as I wish it would. I do believe that the movie will help drive curiosity, and eventually more users, but even the movie is on treacherous ground (many grumbles about Live Action and the infamous director).

As for the finale – I HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET (I know, I’m disappointed in me too). I can’t wait to ramble about it once I’ve seen it on the good ole Tivo. Le sigh.

  1. July 28, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Demographic: Yikes. This part scares me. Avatar: The Last Airbender has TWO demographics… the typical Nickelodeon audience (4 – 10, etc), and twenty-somethings+ (sub culture enthusiasts who still love cartoons).

    And don’t forget the 30-something Mamas who love the show so much they actually blogged about it (in a scholarly way of course)…

    Glad to know I’m not the only one.

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