Friday, November 30, 2007

Everybody's Talking About: Magi-Nation

This week, everyone's been talking about a new kids' MMOG project in the works that will tie into an up-and-coming (and Canadian-based) property called Magi-Nation. The property was first introduced as a collectible card game (CCG), Magi-Nation: Duel, which was heavily inspired by Pokémon and other collectible kids' properties. It had a few incarnations as a videogame, mostly aiming for the same type of CCG-Gameboy crossover success enjoyed by Pokémon (hmmm...I think I see a pattern emerging ;). This past year, Canadian-based Cookie Jar Entertainment launched an animated series to tie-into the CCG (and remaining digital games, I suppose, which includes a cell phone game) -- appearing as part of the CW's Kids' WB Saturday morning cartoon block, as well as on Canadian public broadcaster CBC -- along with a first, smaller online game, Magi-Nation Arena, as well as various ancillary toys and product lines (including a new CCG). The new MMOG will foster and supplement the emerging Magi-Nation media brand, and will surely have some pretty close links to the tie-in card game (I'm guessing that "secret codes" with every purchase will be somehow involved). Here's the description from the company press release:
Magi-Nation: Battle for the Moonlands is based on the popular children's animated television series Magi-Nation, which follows the adventures of 15-year-old Tony Jones, an average teen from Earth who finds himself mysteriously transported to the magical world of Magi-Nation. In these Moonlands Tony befriends two young Magi heroes-in-training who join him on a journey to defeat the evil Shadow Magi who are out to rule their world. Along with their trusty collection of Dream Creatures these new friends must solve riddles, battle evil and discover the secrets hidden in each region on the Moonlands. During their adventures, they just might discover some secrets about themselves.

According to Cynopsis Kids!, the game will be beta-testing this December (unfortunately it's a closed beta, but you can apply here to become a tester). What makes this web-based branded game unique is that while much of the game will be free (i.e. ad-based), it will also incorporate a micro-payment or microtransactions model, in which players will pay small fees to upgrade characters, etc. As Next Generation reports, while this strategy isn't all that new, it is not that common among kids' sites/properties. As Kris Graft writes:
Battle for the Moonlands will be a browser-based game that is supported by advertising as well as microtransactions, an increasingly common business model. What makes Moonlands more unique is that it will be putting microtransactions in the hands of kids. Finding a chunk of charges for virtual clothing and spells on a credit card bill would likely irk some parents, but [Cookie Jar senior VP of digital media Ken Locker] insists there will be restrictions set in place.

"We want to make sure that parents are in control of any online spending, so we are developing a number of ways for parents to be involved in Magi-Nation purchasing activity," Locker says. [Notably, however]"We are also working on implementing a number of payment options so that we do not rely solely on credit cards as heavily as many online games."

Hmmm....perhaps this is where the "secret code included with every purchase" will come in. Either way, it certainly seems like Cookie Jar is casting the widest net possible in its bid to become the next Pokémon. In Virtual Worlds News, Locker is quoted describing Cookie Jar's goal to:
"[R]each kids wherever they are, be it via through television, consumer products or online worlds. [...] We are thrilled to be working on such an ambitious undertaking as Magi-Nation: Battle for the Moonlands and can’t wait to bring the Magi-Nation online entertainment package to our fans. Our young viewers are extremely Internet savvy and routinely monitor their TV shows online. With this project we will extend that connection and enable players to have a fully interactive experience with their favorite characters in one of their favorite worlds."

Indeed! Find out more by following the various links above, or follow the ongoing developments firsthand by visiting the Magi-Nation website.


Joey said...

Just a heads up: The interview you're referencing on was a quote pulled from the official statement. We were able to follow up with an interview, though, which you can find here:

Sara M. Grimes said...

Good to know - thanks for the link and correction Joey,