Posted in gaming, kids, marketing, online advertising, tween, web business

How to do this “kids entertainment thing” right

I was on a panel at GDC this year called “Monetization of teens in a safe and legal way.”  I was joking before the panel that it sounded like “How to make money off of kids.”  Then I found out that it was QUITE the controversial session pre-conference.  If only I would have known, folks, I would have spiced it up a bit more. 😉

But in reality, that’s what all of us in kids entertainment are doing – making our living from figuring out ways to get kids to like our stuff and have their parents/caregivers pay for it.  

Sounds insidious, but we ARE in a capitalist society.  If you are going to pick something to make money off of, kids entertainment is a pretty fun choice for your own work happiness levels.  And it IS possible to do it in a non-sinister way, with high integrity and keeping an eye on your ethics.  It’s easy – just make games/cartoons/toys that don’t suck.  

LOL right? But really – make products that kids will love AND their parents will love.  Parents will be more prone to not mind paying for your product for their kids if it’s beautiful, fun and their kids like it.  Add a layer of learning in there and you are good as gold.  Make any of those factors superficial or not focus on it at all, you are going to start to see that revenue/profit fall.

Of course, you will have to make it legally and safely too.  But these should be pretty “Duh!” statements, right?

Legal – It is not difficult to comply with the regulations.  You will get fined or shut down if you are doing things illegally, so figure out what features trigger what laws (or hire someone who can help you), then decide whether to comply or remove the feature.  Easy as that.

Safe –  It’s also not hard to make your game or toy safe, either.  Figure it out.  If you can’t, seriously, don’t make it at all.  If you aren’t safe, or don’t have that as a priority, why are you making things for children in the first place?  There are tons of other demographics you can work with who are less concerned with safety being a priority.  Go there and make your money.  Please.  Leave the kids space to those of us who care and will continue to bend over backwards to keep the kids safe – not because we have to, but because we want to and we feel it’s the right thing to do.  

Bonus advice: 
Stop busting the balls of the person(s) on your team who are fighting for these things.  Thank them for being that person and having that drive.  Don’t make it a hostile environment for someone to bring up those sorts of concerns.  If they are bringing it up, chances are one of your audience will too at some point, so consider it a fortuitous heads up, not annoying nuisance.  

And give that person a raise too while you are at it (or at least buy them lunch sometime).  Most of those people fighting for the underdog aren’t making the big bucks, so a little goes a long way.  🙂

Posted in gaming, kids, marketing, virtual worlds

SOCIAL AND ONLINE GAMES LEGAL ROUND-UP

SPEAKER/S: Mark Methenitis (The Vernon Law Group, PLLC)

10 legal developments for 2010

1. What happen with “Glider?”
– EULA violations can be considered copyright infringement
– don’t be afraid to sue, but only for big ones
– What happen to Worlds.com
– patents case

2. Why should I care if kids are making content
– kids cant enter in a contract
– kids do have a valid copyright that is licensed
– prent is license – get permission
– cc’s are implied consent
– unclear stil
– assent to machinima rules
– does cc to service (xbox live) assent to all games
– user content when there is no parental license

3. You’ll never take me alive COPPA
– 13 is magic number
– must post privacy policy
– regulation on controls PII
– verifiable parental consent
– parents choose whether 3rd
– minimize pii collected and maintain
– COPPA 2.0 (little COPPAs) – extends to 17 and under
– NJ, NC, GA, IL, ME all have separate
– looking more like francise sale regulations, comply with the most stringent state
– COPPA ties into CAN-SPAM
– ecards and forwrd to friend
– requires an opt out list
– might have a issue with inviter and invitee emails

4. what is govt talking about
– COPPA 2.0
– FTC report on explicit content in VW for minors
– recommends age screenign and segregation
– more self-regualtion and possible lang filters
– No news on FTCs look into Dig Rights Management
– concerns over possible regulation on dig dist related to consumer protection
– Always worried about predators

5 Europe rules are different
– Server rules on privacy are complicated
– adequately protected data transfers – encrypted
– have to spell it all out in TOS

6. Cookies in Europe
– 11/24/09 – new rules in force by 2011
– cant use cookies unless the user consents after getting “clear and comprehensive info”
– or stictly necessary to provide services explicity requested by the user
– browser settings can be considered consent not clear

7. Biz model changes when taxed
– all income earned by US companies is taxed when it’s receieved
– only earn income when points are spent, even in wallet system
– income earned outside of US is taxable in both places
– get acct in intl taxes and attourney

8. What do you mean I might be a bank
– virtual currency considered bank
– anythign that can be bought with cash now and then cashed out later or as refund
– besides the poss implications in banking regs, you then may also be uner financial institution privacy regs

9 Hedging currency
– if you are running a global micro-transaction model, you should probably at least look at hedging currency
– buy insurance against price fluctuations
– micro-transaction model may find it especially beneficial b/c transaction volume can be erractic and over a long period of time

10. Zynga Poker
– subject of online gambling investigations
– gambling=
– consideration (payment of something to participate
– chance random element determines outcome
– prize – thing of value to be won
– sweepstakes are governed under gambling law
– take out consideration rule (no purchase ness)
– some states require bonds to insure sweepstakes
– check your rules, dont just cut and paste