/// Disney Gets Its Game Face On

March 27, 2012  |  Media Week

When Disney acquired kid-centric virtual world Club Penguin in 2007 and social gaming company Playdom in 2010, many industry experts expected the company to use its intellectual property to grow those businesses. That hasn’t necessarily been the case. “The benefit to each of those companies in being owned by Disney is that you can take [Playdom’s expertise in social gaming and Club Penguin’s in kid-focused virtual worlds] and exploit that competitive advantage you already have by taking really great iconic brands and leveraging them. And they haven’t been able to do that yet,” said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. Pachter’s criticism isn’t lost on Disney. Last year, “we didn’t merge those two things particularly well together,” said svp of social games John Spinale, referring to Playdom and Disney content and character franchises. He added that he doesn’t expect the missed opportunity to be the story line for 2012, however. For roughly a year, Playdom has been developing Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers, a hidden-object game in the vein of Playdom’s top hit, Gardens of Time, which is based on Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park in Orlando, Fla., and will debut on Facebook in early April. Coupled with Marvel: Avengers Alliance—launched earlier this month, but which Playdom had been developing preacquisition—Explorers makes for the second of three new Playdom titles this year to integrate with Disney brands. Rather than bringing Disney characters into Club Penguin, Disney has been more focused on cross-pollinating the virtual world’s brand throughout the company. Popular character Captain Rockhopper has been mingling with Disney World visitors alongside Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck for years, and more than 30 million Puffles (pets for users’ penguin avatars) were adopted last year. Paul Verna, senior analyst at eMarketer, said Disney has “clearly put a lot behind building [the Puffle] brand” but that it hasn’t captured the zeitgeist like, say, an Angry Birds. That app’s popularity gets at a larger struggle facing Club Penguin. Disney boasts that Club Penguin has more than 175 million registered players, up from more than 150 million. But as of December 2011, Club Penguin’s U.S

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Disney Gets Its Game Face On

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