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Disney MMOs Aim For Kids, Branding

Toontown, Pirates fun for adults too

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The Disney brand, one of the most well-known globally, reaches into the virtual world with a pair of massive multiplayer online games.
Disney MMOs Aim For Kids, Branding

If my subtle (or not so subtle) role-playing game references in the past did not indicate my geeky past, let be more clear. I was pushed and prodded into both of Disney’s MMO games, Toontown and Pirates Online by my son; now I play more than he does.

I’m not in the target demographic; far from it. Both games have drawn adult players who, for whatever reason, enjoy these games more than well-known competitors like the biggest MMORPG, World of Warcraft. Forums for both Pirates and Toontown prove this with members identifying themselves as grownups.

To someone who grew up with the casual, hilarious violence of Bugs Bunny, the Three Stooges, Tom & Jerry, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner, these games represent a return to the past, especially Toontown, with its pie-throwing, safe-dropping antics.

Ars Technica has a lengthy discussion with the people behind Disney’s MMOs posted. Some of that discussion centers on child safety in the MMO world.

Disney’s approach on Toontown and Pirates utilizes preprogrammed chat phrases, Speedchat, for conversing with others. Pirates is a little looser on chatting, as players can type in chat along with using the existing phrases.

Mike Goslin, vice president of Disney Online’s VR Studio, said in the report Disney uses “a sophisticated hybrid approach” with people and technology policing the chat. If you have ever wondered why Pirates won’t allow numbers in chat, it’s to try and prevent someone from giving out a phone number.

The whole point of the games focuses on bringing in kids. They can drive substantial spending by their families; witness the theme parks Disney operates, or the Hannah Montana concerts that spurred astonishing ticket prices on reseller sites.

Don’t think of them as MMOs, but as persistent reinforcement of the Disney brand. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m 8,000 gold away from buying my pirate a war sloop. I’ve got piracy to commit on the open seas. Arrr!

Disney MMOs Aim For Kids, Branding
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