Did you know: McDonald’s Virtual World
A collegue passed me a new VW I somehow missed in the shuffle: Happymeal.com
That’s my tree house, above, by the way. Treehouses = your room/house/space.
So here’s the scoop on what I’ve found from the Mickey D’s Virtual World venture:
1. They’re intro UI is not very good in the beginning (took me like 10 minutes to get into the world itself – you have to double register usernames – one to select the VW button).
2. They’re uber-safety conscious, which always makes me happy. They don’t take too much personal info: username, gender, birth date and that’s it.
3. Their world is buggy (it’s relatively young, so this is typical, and should receive no fault at this point in time for buggerama issues)
4. It seems totally full of life (despite not having a whole lot to do), which is definitely a bonus. When young VW’s launch, they are in transition and a lot of the future awesomeness is still in production… so young VW’s tend to have a lot of open spaces with little to do. The aesthetics totally remind me of Zookazoo, though. Hmm.
5. They’ve a WIDE variety of customizations – which makes it feel more fun when you think there’s a lot of different varieties to explore (do i feel like being a pirate, a footballer, or a ballerina today? hmm). The avatar customizations are cute, fun (but no viking hat? Boo). The room elements have variety, but are still works-in-progress (overlapping of items & avatar – QA stuff). I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact they chose a wicked-cool looking Tree House as personal space for users. You can’t go wrong with tree houses. I wanted to have tree houses so bad in a certain unnammed/slightly referenced virtual world I may know right now, but alas… didn’t fit organically. Le sigh.
6. Their games are uber simple. Like way simple. More so than say… Club Penguin.
7. They use canned/pre-written chat, which definitely keeps low-scalability on mod-time & ugc to a minimum. But sadly, unless its a rockin’ busy-body site, the pre-written chat is kinda a sore spot for the tater tots (hard to express and connect with others).
8. The call to action safety-ness of the site is pretty respectable. Props to McDonalds for their choices here:
Things I’m not sure about:
1. When/if they’re going to push this site in their commercials/products
2. If they’re going to find micro-licensing possibilities with their licensing partners (happy meal toys)
3. How they screen usernames??!! (One could argue that IzadoraRex is my 1st name and last name since I capitalize R mid-way through)
4. What their goal is in having this site. Reminds me a bit of Millsbury and Postopia < product based 1/2 sites that are made for house-hold-kid-products, or if this is a true “go” at the VW arena?
I thought this was something to show everyone – since, a) I hadn’t heard of it before, b) there’s a whole licensing vs non-licensing VW debate waging between parents & marketers, c) they do somethings differently and somethings the same (and it’s always good to check out the competition), d) because I really like my chick’s soccer jersey + tutu combination (avatar in top picture).
So… here’s the “take away” discussion topic to leave you with:
Virtual Worlds & Kids = Peanut Butter & Jelly, for both GOOD and BAD reasons (I can explain at another time, but for the sake of this thought process, I am going to leave by the wayside in support of the greater question). In this day & age of online media – would you rather have HUNDREDS of single IP/Brand “marketing” virtual worlds, or would you rather have a handful of quality, long-term sites that cross-promote other brands/licenses occasionally?
It’s something to think about – more than just initial reactions….
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