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FusionFall, a multiplayer online game for 9-14 year old kids, features characters from the Cartoon Network, 3D graphics and gaming mechanics that blend elements typically seen on console games with the lightweight gameplay characteristic of kid-oriented virtual worlds.
On its own, this is cool — especially the Cartoon Network part — but not a huge deal: We’ve covered a number of companies with similar goals, including Webkinz, Neopets, and Fluid Entertainment. Even Lego has something in the pipeline. Throw in the fact that FusionFall runs entirely in a browser, however, and the story becomes far more interesting.
Typically, gamers seeking anything more than rudimentary graphics in their online games have to download a large file and boot it up every time they want to play. This is more than an annoyance: It is a significant barrier to distribution. Flash games, on the other hand, work in a browser and can proliferate easily, but offer rock-bottom production values and simplistic gaming experiences.
Launching in Autumn, FusionFall hopes to shatter this boundary. The game, developed by Grigon Entertainment, is built on the Unity graphics engine, which, like Flash, runs entirely in the browser. Unlike Flash, however, Unity enables 3D graphics, as opposed to crap. The downside? The Flash plug-in has penetrated over 90 percent of the web. Almost no one has downloaded Unity, and while the one-time download is less problematic than the repeated downloads necessary to get new games, it could still become a significant issue.
There is also an insane amount of competition for the target market’s attention. There are already the standard social networks and an ever-growing plethora of virtual worlds, to say nothing of other games. It won’t be so easy to stand out. But this part, at least, shouldn’t be too much of a problem: The game has the Cartoon Network behind it, after all.
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