Activision has launched a free-to-play MMO designed for children called Skylanders: Spyro’s Universe based off of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure. The MMO will allow players to customize their Skylands; play mini-games such as Sheep Shot, Sky Defense, and Castle Assault; and bring toys from Spyro’s Adventure into the game. The game is being developed by Frima Studios, and an iOS version of the game is also in the works.
“We conceived Skylanders as a unique multi-platform experience from the beginning, simultaneously grand in scope yet incredibly easy for kids to embrace,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “You can play with friends in the real world or on consoles, Nintendo 3DS, Mac, or PC, and now on the web in Skylanders Spyro’s Universe. If there’s a screen where kids play, we want the Skylanders to come to life there. This also further enhances the play options of every Skylander character.”
For parents worried about their children interacting in the online world, the Skylanders Spyro’s Universe web site explains, “All of the chat in Skylanders Spyro’s Universe consists of pre-written and approved phrases which are selected by your child. The phrases have been written with the goal to promote fun interaction that still allows your child to be fun and creative in their expression. Using pre-approved phrases, at no point will any child be allowed to type in their own content or share any personal information with any other user. In addition, the site has active staff members who monitor daily game play to ensure safety.”
The game is currently in beta and taking testers. Parents can sign up their children if they’d like.
The trailer can be viewed below.
Analysis: I have to admit, the game looks kind of cute. If I were a parent worried about my kids playing age-appropriate games, I’d trust Spyro to not have gore or sex. This MMO is essentially an extension of Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, and parents can buy starter packs with Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure software, varying amounts of Skylanders figures and trading cards, and codes for Skylanders: Spyro’s Universe. Some of the packages also contain exclusive characters, magic items, location pieces, a portal of power, sticker sheets, and/or collector posters. The intent here is complete immersion into the game—read Hirschberg’s comments about Skylanders coming to life on every screen in a kid’s life again—and a kid that wants every freaking thing s/he can get his/her hands on. That’s kind of scary, to be honest. Cuing the Nag Factor in 3… 2… 1.
This is by no means the first MMO to be aimed at children, but I think it’s one of the first that I can remember which has been built from franchises I remember playing as a kid. Does that mean I’m getting old?