Webkinz, the little stuffed animal toys which may be activated through a code to enter the on-line Webkinz world, are drawing more and more children and tweens into the realm of virtual reality. In the past, many companies have been reluctant to charge children for website access for fear of alienating parents. But the Toronto based Canadian company Ganz may have solved this problem through the powerful brand that is the Webkinz cuddly toy and on-line environment.
Visitors to the free Webkinz website spent more than one million hours there in November, with the average child clocking up an average of two hours per visit. However, in order to fully access the Webkinz world, parents must pay approximately $15 for a Webkinz real-world pet toy which children may then “adopt” and care for on-line. Users give each toy a gender and a name and can spend “kinz cash” to buy food, clothes and furniture or even to take neglected pets to a virtual doctor.
Ganz have now launched a line of accessories such as cosmetics and clothing items with codes that redeem a prize for the pets’ on-line avatars in order to ensure that the company capitalizes on children’s web time.