The study of 500 kids showed that an amazing 55 per cent of children owned a toy from at least one of these games. The most popular was Disney’s Club Penguin, with 32 per cent of children owning a branded toy from the online world.
This is a huge statistic. Virtual worlds are an interesting development for the toy industry. Whereas normally the physical toy is in demand because it acts as the portal to imaginative play, that system is reversing here. Children are buying the physical toy as a manifestation of their imaginative play online, anchoring their virtual experience with a physical totem. I think that’s a bit of a warped process, because it delivers very little ongoing/lasting play value for the child…it’s merely a keepsake. What we see as interesting here at Zylie is playing off both the tactile and virtual experiences, building both worlds simultaneously so the child can connect with the same character online and off, and interact in ways exclusive to either medium, making the combined experience much more valuable and rewarding. Still, it is remarkable how quickly Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin have converted such a large portion of their users into customers.