Mattel has announced plans to shift its virtual world to a subscription business model, as it attends the 2nd annual Virtual Worlds Conference.
The firm has scheduled to launch the Barbie Girls VIP membership next month, which will provide subscribers with new and exclusive content and experiences on the Barbie Girls website.
Also being introduced is a platform to educate parents and kids about online safety with the aim of engaging both groups in conversation about rules of online play.
The site currently boasts 11.2 million registered users following its launch in April 2007.
Chuck Scothon, senior vice president and GM of Barbie Girls, said: "Online content is the new toy and virtual worlds are the new playgrounds. While play patterns remain the same among kids, they now want to experience play in new ways. With Barbie Girls™, we deliver all their favourite elements of experiencing the Barbie brand - fashion play, creativity, socialisation and friendship - in a format relevant to today’s tech-savvy girls.
“We believe that, with online content as the new ’toy’, quality online content has a value - and to us, that value is subscription. We are pleased to continue to give girls yet another high quality, fun experience that they’ve come to expect from the Barbie brand with the launch of the ’Barbie Girls™ V.I.P. membership next month, and we anticipate that girls will be thrilled with all the new content and exclusive experiences that a subscription will bring," Scothon continued.
Christopher Sherman, executive director of the Virtual Worlds Management, added: "After witnessing BarbieGirls.com unprecedented growth in just one year, it was imperative to have Mattel share insights on what’s next in the evolving landscape of kids virtual worlds.
“More than ever, the toy industry is playing an instrumental role in developing virtual worlds and our attendees will benefit from Mattel’s thought leadership, as shared in the keynote address."