WildWorks today launched an iPad version of Animal Jam, the game it says is the world’s biggest social network for kids.
Animal Jam — Play Wild is available as a free download on iPad, with an Android release to follow in the coming weeks. WildWorks is hoping that Play Wild will get “millions” of downloads from its existing Animal Jam user base of over 35 million kids across 228 countries. In fact, WildWorks has no plans for paid user acquisition with its new mobile offering — announcing that the game is available to all of its players is the only UA move that WildWorks is taking this year, a spokesperson told GamesBeat.
Chief executive Clark Stacey reckons that kids are an underserved demographic when it comes to social networking — a demographic that “Facebook and Google bar their doors against.” He’s happy that Animal Jam offers a secure environment where kids can get together — with live in-game moderation, chat filters, an obligatory parent dashboard (where parents can manage all aspects of their child’s online presence), and zero advertising.
Stacey previously told GamesBeat about his plans for “ethical” monetization with Animal Jam — Play Wild, saying, “It’s not fair to kids to ask them to make an economic judgment that doesn’t make sense to them.” So instead of selling kids (and their parents) an abstract virtual currency, Play Wild will only sell in-game avatars which each come with ebooks.
Kids can explore the entire Play Wild game world for free and earn unlimited in-game currency through gameplay alone. Monetization comes through the purchase of additional premium animal avatars — released every 4 weeks to 6 weeks — which come with a National Geographic-backed educational multimedia e-book about the corresponding real-world animal species.
“We believe Play Wild will not only elevate the production values applied to apps for kids, but will revolutionize the way those apps are monetized, offering real, demonstrable value to both parents and kids,” said Stacey.
WildWorks will continue to add content to Play Wild after launch, including new lands, animals, mini-games, and customization options. It also plans to localize Animal Jam — Play Wild for nine additional languages later this year.