Barbie, everyone's favourite anatomically impossible plasticine play thing now has her own MMO: BarbieGirls. Following in the footsteps of things like Club Penguin, just a lot pinker and more irritating, it's a brilliant marketing strategy and already boasts 4 million users. And they haven't even gone out of beta yet. And continue to sign up new users at the rate of 45,000 a day. Wow. Not to be left behind, Bratz - the trashier, more badly made up version of Barbie - is also opening their own Be-Bratz MMO.
As nauseating as the whole bubblegum-fashion explosion for adolescent girls can be to us "mature" adults, you can't fault Barbie for keeping up with the times. These virtual worlds for kids - the things I've been looking at on Worlds in Motion like Habbo, Puzzle Pirates, Nicktropolis and Toontown - are absolutely huge, able to generate way more hits and user activity than even the most popular MMO targeted at our set. This is big biz to corporations and advertisers right now, but even if it weren't, I guess it's sorta cool to see the evolution of the way children play with dolls keeping pace with technology.
In order to get access to the full version, players have to purchase (or get their parents to purchase for them) the $US59.99 Barbie Girls MP3 player that functions as a USB key. The Bratz game requires the same sort of scheme, just at a cheaper price point (you get a doll and some stuff that Sexy Videogameland describes as "some pink computer peripherals (a mouse and pad) that look like Japanese sex toys") of $US29.99. I'm fascinated, yet horrified. Yet fascinated. I neither knew about this stuff, nor realised it was so damn popular. BarbieGirls will be going to full release on 13 August.
Do You Guys KNOW About This Stuff? [Sexy Videogameland]