Scheduled for release later this year, Kiwi Heroes will be a Flash-based game that attempts to strike a balance between a virtual world and a traditional MMOG (like WOW). Massively Me claims that the intention behind Kiwi Heroes is to promote social awareness and responsibility to children by addressing environmental issues and global concerns in the game. It also plans on establishing the “Every Kid’s A Hero Foundation,” to support charitable global causes.
Kids’ virtual worlds and online games have a proven track record of major success. TechCrunch analyzed several of the most popular virtual worlds last August. Club Penguin sold to Disney for $350 million and Neopets sold to Viacom for $160 million. The space is potentially very profitable, with a lot of user attention ripe for the right kind of monetization.
With so many potential users and advertising attention, the space is heavily competitive with many competitors, and even some major media corporations. Mattel has their Barbie Girls site, Disney has Club Penguin, and Ganz has Webkinz. Webkinz is the current leader with almost 7 million monthly U.S. uniques, up 148% from last year (via Compete).
Another challenge that children’s online gaming networks run into is finding an effective way to advertise. Neopets used immersive advertising by selling advertising on various aspects of gameplay. For example, players could earn “Neopoints” by playing advergames and taking part in marketing surveys. Similar businesses have monetized through providing offline goods like toys, DVDs, video game partnerships, TV programs, and clothing.
Massively Me has been completely self-funded so far, and claims to be currently pursuing several partnerships and offline tie-ins. If these offline attempts prove successful, Kiwi Heroes may have what it takes to be a contender.