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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : December 02, 2011

Kids' virtual world friends go from screen to toy box

Characters in virtual worlds are not only appearing on the computer screen but are making their way into children's toy boxes too, according to a new study by Dubit Research.

by Helen Leggatt

moshi monster pic.jpgThe furry incarnations of characters from virtual worlds such as Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin are finding homes in the bedrooms of over half of British children.

When Dubit Research surveyed 500 kids in the UK they found that 55% had a least one toy that interacts with an online virtual game (both free-to-play and subscription-based).

"Children are spending more time playing in virtual worlds and now those worlds are becoming part of their offline playtime," said Dubit's head of research Peter Robinson.

A third (32%) of children surveyed had a toy that interacts with Disney's Penguin Club virtual world. Since its launch in 2005 the game has attracted over 150 million registered users from across the globe.

Subscription-based MMORPG Moshi Monsters, described as "a cross between a puzzle solving game combined with Tamagotchi and Furby" has no advertising and no in-game purchases. However, more than a quarter of British kids owned a Moshling toy or Moshi Monster. After just three years the game has attracted over 50 million registered players.

The Moshi Monsters game has also spawned a popular print magazine. The Moshi mag now has the largest circulation of any UK children's magazine.

"Children are spending more time playing in virtual worlds and now those worlds are becoming part of their offline playtime," concluded Robinson. "Today's kids are platform agnostic and don't care where their favourite stories and characters come from. It used to be the case that books or TV shows launched characters and toys, but now online entertainment is proving just as important."

Tags: children, Disney, Dubit Research, Moshi Monsters, online entertainment, online gaming, UK, virtual worlds

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