SEE VIRTUAL WORLDS™ TEAMS WITH THE ESTATE OF MICHAEL JACKSON TO PUBLISH ONLINE VIRTUAL WORLD, PLANET MICHAEL™
Immense Game World to be Themed Around This Planet’s Biggest Star; Will
Feature Real-World Economy Along With Opportunities to Learn About and
Contribute to Charitable Causes
LOS ANGELES – Sept. 21, 2010 - SEE Virtual Worlds™, an entertainment company developing a
virtual reality universe of connected planets tied to licensed franchises, today announced a
collaborative deal with the Michael Jackson Estate to publish Planet Michael™, a massively multiplayer
online virtual world set to launch in late 2011. Planet Michael will offer fans around the globe an
innovative, first-of-its-kind interactive gaming and social experience that truly celebrates Michael
Jackson’s extraordinary life as an artist and humanitarian.
The new planet, currently under development and slated for launch next year, will be an immersive
virtual space themed after iconic visuals drawn from Michael’s music, his life and the global issues that
concerned him. Entire continents will be created that will celebrate Michael’s unique genius in a way
that underscores his place as the greatest artist of all time. Michael’s longtime fans will feel at home as
they find themselves in places that seem familiar and yet unknown at the same time, and new
generations will discover and experience Michael’s life in a way never before imagined. At its core,
Planet Michael is a massive social gaming experience that will allow everyone, from the hardcore fan to
the novice, to connect and engage in collaborative in-game activities with people worldwide.
Planet Michael is one of the first themed-planets that will be published by SEE Virtual Worlds for the
Entropia Universe, a vast dynamic 3D environment created and provided to end users by MindArk PE
AB. The Entropia Universe features several existing planets and combines a revolutionary cash
economy with cutting-edge graphics. Although Planet Michael is a free-to-download world without
monthly subscription fees, the real world in-game economy features gameplay monetization that allows
players to take on dozens of different occupations and in certain instances, contribute to a charitable
cause at the same time.
“When we first approached the Estate and talked about creating Planet Michael, one of our primary
goals was to build an interactive environment where fans from all over the world come together to affirm
Michael’s life-long dedication to fostering global friendships,” said Martin Biallas, CEO of SEE Virtual
Worlds. “In building a space worthy of those global connections, we envisioned a magical, enjoyable
place that will capture that zest for fun and life that was at Michael’s very core. Throughout his
extensive career, the King of Pop was well-known for his visionary contributions to music, dance,
fashion, entertainment and philanthropy, and it was critical that we somehow incorporate all of those
elements into the game.”
“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 to celebrate his music, his artistry and his devotion to
helping those in need,” said John Branca, co-executor for The Estate of Michael Jackson. “Michael was
always exploring creative new ways technology could enhance the experiences of his fans, and for that
reason we are thrilled to be working with SEE Virtual Worlds to build a global interactive experience
that befits an artist as innovative as Michael Jackson” added John McClain, co-executor of the Estate.
For game updates and to register to become a part of Planet Michael, please visit:
For additional assets and information please visit:
Jackson estate licenses virtual `Planet Michael'
LOS ANGELES — The man who made the moonwalk famous is getting a planet of his own.
The Michael Jackson estate has entered a licensing deal with a Los Angeles company to create an online virtual world based called "Planet Michael."
The planet will live inside the Entropia Universe, a so-called "massively multiplayer online" game with about 100,000 active users. It 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 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 who want to buy more credits can replenish their game accounts using real money.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
'Planet Michael' will let players builds virtual Jackson worlds
It has been 15 months since Michael Jackson died, leaving his Neverland in limbo. But a virtual Neverland is in the works as a tribute to the late King of Pop.
Planet Michael, an online virtual world devoted to Jackson's life, music and concerns, being developed to open late next year, will combine features of a massively multiplayer online game and social network.
"We put a focus on something that will truly allow fans to immerse themselves in a Michael Jackson-like universe or music-video-like world and interact with each other and then go on adventures and do gameplay stuff and socialize," says Josh Gordon of developer SEE Virtual Worlds.
Think World of Warcraft— with no violence and more dancing. "The player is more apt to succeed in a situation using song, dance and adventure as opposed to violence," Gordon says.
A free-to-download game, Planet Michael will let players (ages 13-up) customize their own avatars, perhaps with red Thriller jackets and sequined gloves. However, you will be able to spend money on items, and some virtual objects earned and created in the world can be traded or sold to others. (More information at planetmichael.com.)
But will Planet Michael's publishers be able to overcome Jackson's tarnished reputation, which included such behavior as holding a newborn off a hotel balcony and charges of molesting children (he was acquitted on criminal charges, while some civil cases were settled out of court)?
"The answer is, 'I'm not sure,' " says video game industry analyst Michael Pachter, commenting not on Planet Michael specifically but on potential projects including the recently announced Michael Jackson The Experience dance video game from Ubisoft.
"If parents are the target, I think that the legacy baggage will be a problem," Pachter says. "If the user is the target, I think that all will be forgiven, because there is no question that he was a phenomenal performer. So I suppose the answer is 'somewhere in between.' "
"There is no doubt we will be open to people joking about it and criticizing it," says Gordon. "We'll just have to roll with that as it comes, so to speak. ... He's such a big name and he's such a big legend that no matter what we do, we are going to get a lot of people who are excited, and we are going to get people who criticize us. And we have just taken that as the way it is going to be."
Before he died, Jackson was exploring games and interactive entertainment prospects. "Unfortunately, he never got to this point," says Martin Biallas, president of SEE Virtual Worlds, a division of Biallas' larger company SEE (Special Entertainment Events), for which he organized real-life happenings around Star Trek's 30th anniversary and the 1999 world tour of Titanic props, sets and costumes.
The Swedish company MindArk, which operates the Entropia Universe online service, ap- proached SEE about entertainment properties that might be worthy of virtual-world treatment, and Biallas contacted the Jackson estate. "They loved it and said this could actually be something where we could also transmit the ideas (and) the vision that Michael had, and not make it just a game but make it a social-interacting platform."
So in addition to areas based on songs such as Thriller, Beat It and Smooth Criminal, there might be an altruistic area based on a song such as Heal the World. Players will be able to donate to charities as well.
"We believe this online social gaming experience will bring the most passionate Michael Jackson fans together with those just discovering his artistry in a unique environment where they can celebrate his music, his art and his devotion to helping those in need," says an e-mailed statement from Jackson's estate and executors.
Thriller-land: This area of Planet Michael is based on the music video for Michael Jackson's Thriller.