The Walt Disney Company acquired kid-friendly virtual world Club Penguin.
The Walt Disney Company acquired Club Penguin, a virtual world catering to grammar school-age children. The popular pre-teen virtual world will become part of the Walt Disney Internet Group.
Club Penguin and all of Disney's existing communities will remain free of advertising, a sensitive area for very young children, but will eventually be open for cross-promotion, licensing arrangements and franchise expansion.
Earlier this year Disney relaunched Disney.com with a handful of virtual world sites targeted at kids of different ages. While the company's strategy is generally to build its own properties and communities, Club Penguin's 12 million activated users and 700,000 current paid subscribers became an acquisition target.
Up front, Disney will pay $350 million for the property. The three Club Penguin founders stand to earn as much as double that figure in additional payouts if certain goals are met by year-end 2009. Club Penguin's three founders say they and their employees remain committed to advancing the property under Disney's flag.
"If it was about the money, we would have taken the money a long time ago," Lane Merrifield, Club Penguin CEO and co-founder told ClickZ News. He said discussion predominantly revolved around philosophy of the site rather than valuation.
As part of Disney, Club Penguin intends to expand internationally by leveraging its new parent's worldwide infrastructure. The community has been somewhat limited to English-speaking countries, including the U.S., U.K. and Canada. Merrifield said many kids translated elements of the storyline and playing experience into their native languages.
A 700,000-strong group of six- to 14-year-olds pay a subscription price of $5.95 monthly, or $57.95 annually, to interact with Club Penguin. Disney's purchase of the gaming environment will extend the reach of Disney's portfolio of virtual communities accessible through the Disney.com site, which was relaunched earlier this year. Existing virtual communities include Disney's Toontown Online, Disney Game Kingdom, Virtual Magic Kingdom, and the upcoming Pirates of the Carabbean Online and Disneyfairies.com. Club Penguin will adopt the "Disney" name before its title.
The portfolio reaches a range of age groups and interests with content that appeals to both boys and girls. "It gives us an opportunity to deliver a portfolio of products to our audience," said Steve Wadsworth, president of the Walt Disney Internet Group. "There is an opportunity to expose our audience to a broader range of experiences as they age and develop their use of the Internet. Club Penguin fits in very well."
Users can spend an unlimited amount of time in the world for free; a subscription is required to conduct certain activities, such as making purchases.
Revolutionize your digital marketing campaigns at ClickZ Live San Francisco (August 10-12)!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, our action-packed, educationally-focused agenda offers 9 tracks to cover every aspect of digital marketing. Join over 500 digital marketers and expert speakers from leading brands. Register today!
US Consumer Device Preference Report
Traditionally desktops have shown to convert better than mobile devices however, 2015 might be a tipping point for mobile conversions! Download this report to find why mobile users are more important then ever.
E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle
Have you ever wondered what factors influence online spending or why shoppers abandon their cart? This data-rich infogram offers actionable insight into creating a more seamless online shopping experience across the multiple devices consumers are using.