This is a no-brainer. Look at the success of Webkinz. So why should virtual world, mmo and game designers and publishers care? Toy tie-ins are not only an additional revenue source, but they allow for a deeper connection with the users. And there is a huge amount of opportunity in this space. But most relevantly for PaymentGuys and PaymentGirls, retail based and sold interactive merchandise connecting buyer to the virtual environment, game portfolio or world is simply the best payment method for a youth and parent customer demo. Think about it. When a user buy s an interactive toy at a store, there is no fraud, few chargebacks, brand is built in the real world, spontaneous user acquisition occurs, collectabilty starts and indirect purchasing happens (grannie buys Webkinz plush for grandkids etc...).
PG says virtual world publishers, especially those running kiddie virtual worlds, must start looking beyond the PC screen and focusing on the virtual environment itself. The retail based revenue stream has too much potential not to. And most importantly it allows end-users and customers to connect to virtual worlds, create more engagement and have more fun. It is all about engagement and high-levels of creative interactivity.
Here is a quick run-down of the key players in the interactive toy arena is arena but it is not by any means complete;
- Webkinz: The plush toys for starters, as well as figurines, lip gloss, and other licensed products to monetize the interest in the brand.
- BarbieGirls.com and Be-Bratz: Are targeting older. Toys and accessories already available, more to follow.
- Card based: many properties are expanding this way, including Bella Sara, Chaotic, Maple Story, and World of Warcraft.
- Virtual Paper Dolls and IRL (Fashion) Design: Moo.com (with Habbo), Stardoll, Zazzle, and FigurePrints.com all provide different tools that allow users to bring virtual fashions into the real world: by printing avatars on a T-shirt, or designing avatar clothes that can then be made IRL for the player, designing your own avatar-based figurine, etc.
- TestTubeAliens.com: Toy that detects screen patterns when held up to the computer screen, changing the mood of the "test tube alien" inside.
- UbFunKeys: Similar to Webkinz, but with plastic figurines instead of plush toys.
- Tamagotchi: Relaunched and updated to include an online world.
The virtual world with interactive toy business is where it is at!