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Gaia Online

Chris Davis of Gaia Online talks MMO marketing

Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Browser, Virtual Worlds, Gaia Online

The MMO industry is an ever-changing, totally unpredictable universe of online games, from hot, massive fully-realized worlds like World of Warcraft or EVE to fun casual games like Farmville or the Agency: Covert Ops. Gaia Online takes a bit of a different approach by mixing a casual gaming and social worlds. We caught up with Chris Davis, a marketer for Gaia who handles sponsorship accounts, at E3 to discuss his game. He has his own unique take on MMOs and brand marketing, and how companies should interact with their potential customers. Chris describes why he believes mixing marketing and gaming is good for both the user and the brand.

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MMO Family: Virtual worlds for kids

Club Penguin, There, Habbo Hotel, Gaia Online, Barbie Girls, Kids, Moshi Monsters, MMO Family

MMO Family is your resource for leveling a gaming-specced family ... From tips on balancing gaming with family life to finding age-appropriate niches for every family member, MMO Family offers you advice on MMO gaming of the family, by the family and for the family.

Nestling somewhere in between MMOs and social networking, virtual worlds are a virtual sandlot for millions of kids worldwide. Think avatar-based chat and mini-games alongside other kids of the same age range and interests, and you'll catch the appeal of these kid-friendly destinations. While a gaming parent might consider virtual worlds mere training wheels for games still to come, kid-friendly virtual worlds seem to fit the attention spans, chatty nature and niche-y interests of kids to a T.

The sheer variety of worlds appealing to children makes it easy for kids to find a spot where they'll want to hang out. As of early 2009, kids could choose from 112 virtual worlds designed for children and teens, according to Engage Digital Media, with more than 80 new worlds under development. The numbers of kids who've found a virtual home in these worlds rivals even the fat figures of MMO big dog World of Warcraft. Research firm eMarketer estimates that in the United States alone, 8 million kids hung out in virtual worlds regularly during 2008; that number is projected to swell to more than 15 million by 2013.

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Voice chat - zOMG!

Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Gaia Online

Well, yes, we are happy about this, but zOMG! is the name of the MMO, not an expression of our excitement. Vivox, the company that provides voice chat in quite a few of our favorite games, has added one more to their list. They've partnered with Gaia Online to provide in game voice chat for zOMG!, their free-to-play browser based MMO.

"Gaia Online has defined the social web experience for millions of teens and young adults," said Rob Seaver, CEO of Vivox. "And voice is the ultimate social glue. By adding voice chat to zOMG!, Gaia Online proves, again, its commitment to providing a truly social experience for its players."

Vivox voice chat is live in zOMG! now for players to "gab to your heart's content using the power of your own face-hole, saving valuable keystrokes for more efficient monster bashing," according to the zOMG! monthly newsletter. True to form, zOMG! has added their own twist on it as well: players can purchase voice fonts in the storefront to give their voice a unique twist. Congratulations to Gaia Online and Vivox for their partnership!

zOMG! beta reaches half a million players

Betas, Free-to-Play, Browser, Gaia Online

Gaia Online's latest title, zOMG!, has attracted over half a million beta users, according to Worlds in Motion. This cutesy, anime-looking game was named by the players back in July of this year and has enjoyed tremendous success even this early in its life cycle.

zOMG! is a Flash-based browser game marketed primarily to children and teens. Players earn Gaia Gold by interacting with the Gaia website and can then spend said gold to customize their avatar. If you're interested in trying the beta or just looking for more information on what it's all about, check out our First Impression of zOMG!.

Gaia Online's MMO is actually called zOMG! (and it's in beta now)

Betas, New Titles, News Items, Browser, Casual, Gaia Online

The closed beta test of Gaia Online's much-anticipated MMO has officially begun. Here's the kicker: it has a name! And that name is zOMG!. No, really. The name of the MMO is actually zOMG!. Previously, it was called Gaia Battle. That was rather generic, so this is probably a step up.

The name was chosen out of hundreds of submissions from Gaia regulars. Said Senior Producer Dave Georgeson to Wired: "it captures the spirit of our users." Those users are mostly teens. Until now, Gaia Online has simply been a casual games portal and forum community. zOMG! is an MMO built on that foundation.

If you're not familiar with Gaia Battle -- err, we mean zOMG! -- it's a browser-based game that will run on any computer that plays nice with Flash. Gameplay involves combat -- which centers around upgradable magic ring items -- and minigames. Social networking type stuff is laced in as well.

Gaia Online brings home the gold with the Rejected Olympics

Sports, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, News Items, Virtual Worlds, Gaia Online

Players of Gaia Online will get the chance to live out their sublimated fantasies of being Olympians starting July 21st, the start date of the Rejected Olympics. Unlike the traditional games, the Rejected Olympics will feature such whimsical events as Connect the Dots and Watermelon Chopping, competing in teams to win the gold medal. Fourth place players will take home stale bread. Seriously.

The week-long festivities end on July 27th. For more information, go check out Gaia Online's event site.

[Thanks, Kristen!]

First screenshots from Gaia Online's MMO

At a glance, Galleries, Screenshots, New Titles, Previews, Free-to-Play, Browser, Virtual Worlds, Gaia Online

We had the opportunity to take a look at Gaia Online's upcoming MMO, and it looks like some serious fun! Take a look through the Gallery embedded below -- some of these come directly from the studio, others were screenshots of the quick tour we took; it should be obvious which are which.

A couple of tidbits: the entire game is Flash based, much like Dofus; they've done away with the need for wearable armor; and there's an intriguing methodology in place for dealing with player overcrowding that can be summed up in one word: landshark. All this and more once the game launches near the end of Summer. We'll keep you apprised!

Gaia Online tees up its massively multiplayer online game

Expansions, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Gaia Online, Kids

As we reported last April, popular teen hang-out site Gaia Online is making the leap from virtual world to full-blown MMO, further blurring the lines between the two genres. It will still have movies, malls and minigames ... just with a few more monsters. Gaia Online was a separated series of rooms, but now its filling in the lands between those rooms with impromptu games around fountains and battles with psychotic garden gnomes.

VentureBeat talks with CEO Craig Sherman and senior producer Dabid Georgeson about the new MMO world and the challenges of turning a fabulously successful social space with millions of users, into a succesful MMO. Is the world ready for another Runescape? Look for Gaia Online -- the MMO -- when it launches this summer to find out.

Virtual Greats to sell celebrity likenesses

Business Models, Culture, Economy, MMO Industry, News Items, Second Life, Habbo Hotel, Virtual Worlds, Gaia Online

And not just likenesses. Metaverse developer Millions of Us intends to market likenesses, hair-styles, catchphrases, dance moves, signature moves, clothing lines, furniture collections -- you name it -- based on well-known celebs all under the banner business name of Virtual Greats. These appearances and digital accessories would be sold in dozens of virtual worlds, though you'll probably see them in Gaia Online, Habbo and Second Life first.

Deals have already been done with Justin Timberlake, Elvis Presley Enterprises, Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, Raven Symone, Marvel (for The Incredible Hulk), and Tila Tequila, and more are in the works.

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOGs and virtual worlds be separate?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, The Daily Grind, Virtual Worlds, Gaia Online

Friday held the Social Gaming Summit, a meeting of the luminaries of the various virtual worlds -- Gaia Online, Neopets, and IMVU to name a very few -- in San Francisco. This blogger was on hand for several of the panels, and came away with a deeper understanding of where the demarcation between massively multiplayer online game and virtual world was drawn. On the virtual world side, developers are beginning to incorporate more and more elements of what would normally be considered MMO-only features, like quests and leveling up.

However, similar integration of virtual world-like elements in MMOs has so far remained off-spec. Chat aside, games like World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, and City of Heroes don't have features like profiles with integrated blogs for players, or spaces in which one could post photos and media for others to enjoy. Is this something that might change as the Web 2.0 landscape evolves? Are MMOs better off remaining "pure"?

Relive prom night with Gaia Online

Fantasy, Contests, Culture, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Gaia Online

The wily developers at Gaia Online have decided to heal the wounds of high school prom by holding one of their own. From May 16th to the 18th, players will have the opportunity to crash the prom and win a real-life outfit designed by Project Runway winner Christian Siriano. Christian has also designed outfits for your avatar, available in the Gaia Store.

And if you like to dance -- and by 'dance', we mean 'dance in front of your webcam for the delight and derision of all' -- then submit your video to Gaia and you might be chosen for Internet fame! If you have lingering memories of your prom that keep you up at night, wash those horrors away with Gaia Online!

ION 08: Virtual worlds for the masses

World of Warcraft, Entropia Universe, Events (Real-World), Second Life, Virtual Worlds, Events (Massively's Coverage), Gaia Online

What's a virtual world? Why do we even call them virtual worlds when we could easily call them digital worlds, or just simply, worlds? This was just one of the many interesting topics discussed at ION 08 this year in a panel entitled, "Redefining Virtual Worlds for Mass Markert Consumption" which is quite the mouthful. So lets put things in a more understandable -- and far more interesting -- perspective.

Whether you're talking about Club Penguin, Gaia Online or Second Life the truth of the mater is that these "worlds" are here to stay and they all share similarities -- social interaction. Not only are they here to stay, but they've only just begun to grow as a market. Which is why this panel was all the more interesting. The panel includes Erik Bethke (GoPets Ltd), John K. Bates (Mindark/Entropia Universe), Craig Sherman (Gaia Online), Rob Lanphier (Linden Lab/Second Life) and was moderated by David Elchoness (Association of Virtual Worlds).

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From Virtual World to MMO: Gaia Online

Betas, Business Models, Interviews, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Gaia Online

"A lot of MMOs have the same experience where[ever] you go or no matter what you've done for how many people are in the area. It's a big treadmill of killing monsters and getting loot. We still have that, but we also have aboveground game like golf that people can play even if there's a battle raging around them." Dave Georgeson, Senior Producer for Gaia Online.

As Gaia Online prepares for its closed beta, we're getting a bit more of a glimpse into what this MMO version of the current virtual world is all about. In a recent interview with Dave Georgeson, he explains why they're making that transition from a virtual world to an MMO and why it will be beneficial for existing players, as well as new players.

Building an MMO from an existing fan-base is a helpful first step, just look at WoW and LotRO, but is it enough to make it last in this still-not-officially-named MMO? With over five million current Gaia Online players, you'd think an instant audience is a good thing, but the problem becomes more an issue of keeping those current users satisified with their new MMO shell, and simultaneously drawing in new players.

The 2008 Social Gaming Summit

Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Academic, Virtual Worlds, Gaia Online

Friday, June 13th will see the coming together of industry leaders in the social networking and gaming spaces, to talk about how things are going, and to plan the connected future. The 2008 Social Gaming Summit, to be held in the UCSF Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco, CA, will feature influential speakers from companies like Kongregate, Three Rings, Gaia Online, Neopets, and Sparkplay.

Panel topics include " Asynchronous Games on Social Networks", " Building Communities and Social Interaction In and Around Games", and "What Makes Games Fun?" We'll be on-hand to cover the discussions and maybe speak with some of the presenters. If this sounds like your cup o' joe, June's not far away; best register today!

[Thanks, Charles!]

Gaia Online borrows a trick from Willy Wonka

Fantasy, Contests, Culture, Events (Real-World), New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Gaia Online

Gaia Online, the virtual community that boasts over 5 million players, will be present at this year's New York Comic-Con, from April 18th to the 20th. They're encouraging both existing members and people who've never played before to drop by their booth and take a chance at winning a golden ticket, good for early entrance to the beta test of their upcoming casual MMO, as yet unnamed.

They're also offering other prizes, such as an in-game Angelic Halo, Gold cards (worth varying amounts of Gaia currency), and a limited-edition ring for use in the MMO to attendees of the Gaia Panel at 5:00PM on Saturday, April 19th. Full information at their site.

If they manage to convert their existing playerbase to their MMO, they could be seen as a serious contender for size, right out of the gate. We'll keep our eyes open and our ears to the ground for more info on this as it gets released.


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