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Sep 20, 2010 10:21 PM by Alison Haynes

Jackson estate licenses virtual 'Planet Michael'

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The man who made the moonwalk famous will
soon be getting a planet of his own.
The Michael Jackson estate has entered a licensing deal with a
Los Angeles company that will create an online virtual world based
on the King of Pop called "Planet Michael."
The planet will live inside the Entropia Universe, a so-called
"massively multiplayer online" game that has about 100,000 active
users and is run by the Swedish company Mind Ark.
The estate will work with game publisher SEE Virtual Worlds to
develop the game for release in late 2011. In it, fans will be able
to collect and trade virtual Jackson merchandise, and earn credits
by performing challenges related to his music and dance moves.
As in other virtual worlds, players can replenish their game
accounts using real money.
Martin Biallas, CEO Of SEE Virtual Worlds, said game play will
focus on Jackson's dance moves and adhere to his credo of
nonviolence, a departure from other online multiplayer games such
as "World of Warcraft." The game will also allow for charitable
contributions.
"With Michael Jackson, we're aiming at different game play,"
he said in an interview.
John Branca, Jackson's longtime lawyer and co-executor of his
estate, said in a statement, "No artist unified the world like
Michael Jackson, so it is fitting that in Planet Michael his fans
will be able to join together in such a unique way online."
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Jackson's estate has grown immensely since his sudden death on
June 25, 2009 at age 50. Ventures including a multiyear record deal
with Sony Music based on unreleased recordings and a movie based on
concert rehearsal footage have brought the estate more than $250
million in the year since his death.
T.J. Keitt, a virtual world analyst with Forrester Research,
said a deal between a major artist and a virtual world is "not too
far out of the fold." Last year, hip-hop artist Jay-Z licensed his
Rocawear clothing line to the WeeWorld virtual game targeted at
teenagers.
But the analyst questioned whether Jackson fans would want to
use a virtual world, which is mostly populated by preteens and
teenagers, he said.
Jackson fans are likely "older adults who came of age in the
'80s," he said. "Those people aren't frequenting virtual
worlds."

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