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September 8, 2006

Get ready for Viva Pinata

Posted by David Hunter at 11:33 AM ET.

“Viva Piñata” Makes Its TV Debut Sept. 9:

Viva Piñata™ — one of the most buzzed-about new kids’ entertainment properties of the year — from Microsoft Corp., Rare Ltd. and 4Kids Entertainment Inc. will make its debut this Saturday morning on 4Kids TV on FOX. The computer graphics (CG) animated series produced by 4Kids Entertainment and Bardel Entertainment will act as a springboard for the new franchise, which will also include an Xbox 360™ video game from Microsoft Game Studios and other licensed merchandise.

Created by U.K.-based developer Rare, Viva Piñata is the first property to be introduced as part of an alliance between Microsoft and 4Kids Entertainment. It not only marks Microsoft’s efforts to broaden the Xbox 360 audience beyond core gamers, it solidifies 4Kids’ role as a leader and innovator in the world of children’s entertainment marketing and licensing. Families can also gear up for even more piñata fun with the “Viva Piñata” video game, developed by Rare exclusively for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system; the game will be launched this holiday season.

“Today is an exciting day as we continue to reach out to new audiences and introduce families to a vibrant world that will not only entertain, but also inspire creativity and imaginations on many levels,” said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. “People of all ages are invited into the Viva Piñata universe, where they will meet a cast of wacky characters and enjoy an immersive interactive experience with the Xbox 360 game and Viva Piñata merchandise.”

If hype were horses, marketers would ride. I’ve swatted this pinata previously and not much came out, but then I’m not part of the target demographic. Maybe the tykes really do want an immersive interactive experience with merchandise.

Filed under Alliances, General Business, Marketing, Microsoft, Public Relations, Xbox

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2 Responses to “Get ready for Viva Pinata”

  1. That’s show biz! -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] And what would a tale of Microsoft in Wonderland be without a mention of Viva Pinata, Microsoft’s attempt to build a younger (ages 6-11) Xbox 360 demographic, with a combination of a video game (”most important Xbox 360 release of the year“), TV show, and kiddie merchandise. This unique effort got a goofy puff piece in the Wall Street Journal this week where Microsoft is identified as a “Silicon Valley giant” and the full force ad strategy is described as “viral marketing”, but here’s the nut: [...]

  2. Founders leave Microsoft’s Rare game design studio -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] “Chris and Tim have helped shape Rare into the world-renowned development studio that is it today and their impact on the videogame industry as a whole is well known. They are simply leaving to pursue other opportunities and we wish them luck in their future endeavors.” Microsoft acquired Rare 4 years ago from Nintendo. While I don’t think much of the TV show and merchandise part of the Viva Pinata goat rodeo, the game itself has been getting good reviews, but apparently failed in its mission to broaden the Xbox 360 demographic to a “family gaming” audience. Simon Carless at GameWatch suggest some reasons why sales have been so dismal, one of which has particular pertinence here: Sorry, Rare, but your reputation among a lot of the hardcore gamers who currently own an Xbox 360 just isn’t that good. Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo were both flawed attempts at X360 launch titles that probably got overrated by the press along the way, further disenchanting people who picked them up at hardware launch. And the Conker update felt pretty underwhelming – so I think that a family-oriented game done by the current Rare team just didn’t appeal to a lot of people. Game design is like movie production with a lot of duds for every blockbuster and constant shifting of the players in pursuit of the latter, so this isn’t a big surprise. Overall this doesn’t mean much for Microsoft other than once again raising the question of why they’re in this business in the first place. Filed under Acquisitions, Xbox, Microsoft [...]

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