Wednesday, December 13, 2006

TV Goes MMO

Corus Entertainment - parent company of Nelvana, YTV, etc. - is launching an MMOG (named "Constellation" for now) based around its various children's brands. According to KidScreen, the beta has already launched at this point, with the full game expected to become available in early 2007. From the KidScreen coverage:
The popularity of gaming on YTV's website - which hosted 17 million gameplays in the first 10 months of 2006 - along with YTV Tween Report research that reconfirmed tweens' love of on-line games, prompted the initiative. Corus has since set an ambitious course to create the largest MMOG network in North America for its kids audience.

The apparatus will include a number of on-line worlds where users will be able to play games, compete and chat with other users, collect information and interact with their surroundings. The plan is for the environments to be secure, monitored, and above all kid-friendly. Access to the game will be free for all users with revenue being derived from sponsorship and in-game advertising.

You can read the rest of the article here.
This news comes right on the heels of a similar project announcement by US-based Cartoon Network, which plans to launch an MMOG based around its programs and characters in 2008. It can also be seen as an attempt to reproduce some of Disney's massive success in transforming its theme park areas/brand franchises into MMOGs, such as Toontown and the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean MMOGs. With these large commercial media companies jumping onto the MMOG bandwagon, I think that issues around commercialization and data-mining in online games--especially when minors are involved--are only going to rise to the forefront in the next couple of years, as ventures such as these produce online environments that serve primarily as marketing initiatives. While it's nice to see a Canadian initiative of this size and significance, I can't help but cringe at the idea that it will be entirely ad-supported. I can't wait to read their EULA!

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