Saturday, December 15, 2007
Ganz does it with its Webkinz Plush. Webkinz dolls were introduced by Toronto-based Ganz in the spring of 2005 and have quickly become one of the most popular toys among the elementary-school set. The company uses the stuffed animals as a roundabout way to charge for online content. Instead of asking parents to pay for the Webkinz site by entering a credit card number online, Ganz packages access codes for the site with stuffed animals and trading cards sold in stores.
Other companies, like Mattel and Russ Berrie, have copied Ganz's innovative approach. Traffic on Webkinz’s site grew by more than 800 percent over the last year, totaling 7.29 million unique visitors in October, according to Nielsen Online. Its closest competitor, Club Penguin from Disney, had 3.88 million visitors in that period.
So why does a company with a strong "avatar-brand" like Finland's Sulake press on with trying to sell HABBO T-shirts, stickers and mouse-pads when it could sell Plush HABBOs or better yet "Urban Vinyl HABBOS" - like the Gorillas line from KidRobot in the pic - and attach a secret code to the HABBO Vinyl ... VOILA! Oddly enough, HABBO and Gorillas did co-operate on a very successful ad campaign before: http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2005/08/gorillaz_do_hab.html
Payment Guy predicts you will see Plush Penguins at a Disney Store near you very very soon .... stay tuned.
Finnish game developer Apaja got EURO 1.75 mill (or about $240 million USD) from a little known VC based in Estonia named Martinson Trigon. How Apaja can become profitable when its strategy seems to be to partner with media companies like Lycos thus sharing the profits (or worse revenues) in rich markets like France, Italy and Germany and then take VC money to target less-wealth Eastern European markets, all the while relying on high-commission telo-billing like Premium SMS and running game dev and operations in less-than-cheap Helsinki remains to be seen. Maybe they should hire Polish or Romanian devs with all those Estonian Euros?: www.apaja.com/press/75
This is after the fact but it is too ironic not to blog about Club Penguin's ambitious plans to launch in the UK and celebrate ... "Guy Fawkes Night" Most little penguins normally do not hang out at bonfires ... http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/digitalcontent/2007/11/club_penguin_to_celebrate_guy.html
For launching its second advertising campaign (yes only two - Bees and Alvin&The Chipmunks), parents are and consumer groups are quite pissed at Ganz Interactive. Here is a balanced look at the story from the Globe&Mail:http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071214.WBmingram20071214144137/WBStory/WBmingram
By now everyone knows Linden's CEO has fired the real brains behind SL, it's brilliant CTO Cory Ondrejka. "Mssively" is a good place to get the goods including some inside info like Cory's own words: http://www.massively.com/2007/12/11/cory-ondrejkas-departure-in-his-own-words/