US kids broadcaster Cartoon Network has announced that it is developing its first massively multi-player online game (MMOG) in a partnership with a leading MMOG developer, Seoul-based Grigon Entertainment.
Cartoon Network New Media will debut the game in the US. This is the first-ever partnership between a US entertainment company and a Korean developer to create an MMOG for the global marketplace.
The Cartoon Network MMOG will launch in 2008 and target the growing and sophisticated kids’ interactive gaming market. The game will be free to download, with subscription and micro-transactions available to players to enhance the gaming experience. New areas for exploration and play are planned and will be added regularly over a span of several years.
The game brings Cartoon Network’s characters and sensibility to the online gaming realm with an “East-meets-West” creative approach. Grigon Entertainment is best known for successfully developing and launching several online games in Asia, including Seal Online, a light-hearted role-playing game (RPG) that took the online gaming world by surprise. Localized versions are available in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, Indonesia and Thailand.
Cartoon Network executive VP, GM Jim Samples says, “Cartoon Network is an immersive experience for our fans, and this MMOG will allow our fans to interact with their favorite characters like never before. Not only will kids be able to play with their favorite characters like Mac and Bloo, Ben 10 and the Kids Next Door, but they will also be able to develop their own online gaming personalities and interact, virtually, with other players in a safe way.
“This MMOG is a key part of Cartoon Network’s growth strategy, and is an important complement to our mobile, broadband and existing online business. With the MMOG, mobile content, our Web sites and, of course, our linear network, Cartoon Network is always on for kids.”
Cartoon Network new media senior VP, GM Paul Condolora says, “Online games have been the most important driver of Cartoon Network New Media’s success over the last few years. With more than 84 million U.S. homes expected to have broadband Internet access by 2008, and Cartoon Network’s reach and creative vision, we’re excited to enter the fast-growing world of massively multiplayer online gaming.
“In Grigon Entertainment, we have found a partner who understands how to build a successful MMOG for the casual marketplace. With our characters and creative direction, along with Grigon’s experience and technical know-how, we think Cartoon Network’s MMOG will have great success and longevity.”
Massively multiplayer online gaming has expanded in the US in recent years, with games like World of Warcraft and EverQuest achieving large and loyal followings. Most MMOGs have been driven by high-intensity fighting and action with fantasy elements and have attracted an older, adult audience. To date, few games have targeted younger audiences. In Asia and Europe, where broadband penetration is ahead of that in the United States, MMOGs have been developed for all audiences, from kids to teens and adults.
Cartoon Network’s games will feature a persistent and expanding world, which will allow players to develop their own characters, attributes and possessions over the course of many months and even years. Players may also meet and interact with other players online, forming virtual friendships and communities. Cartoon Network’s MMOG will be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (Coppa) and will offer a safe gaming environment for players.