Bits and bytes

Arrr! Disney Pirates lands on-line
May 1, 2006

Arrr! Disney Pirates lands on-line

Disney Online is getting set to unveil an early version of Pirates of the Caribbean Online at E3. The Massive Multiplayer On-line Role-Playing Game, based on the planned movie trilogy, is one of the only of its kind inspired by an existing family-targeted property.

Although Pirates of the Caribbean Online joins two other video games supporting Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest (set for theatrical release in July), this one has a twist. Kids will be able to design their own pirate characters and go on adventures with fellow players, taking the interactivity quotient to a new level.

Originally slated to launch this summer, the game’s debut has been pushed back to 2007. Petrina Walker, marketing director for Disney Online, says that the game was delayed to coincide with the release of the third Pirates film next year. Disney will be offering the game as a free download from When the trial period expires, users will have to pay a monthly sub fee to keep playing.

Hi-tech trading cards

Australia’s Forest Interactive, a division of prodco Yoram Gross and Germany’s EM.TV, is set to turn the world of trading card games on its head with MobiStax, a new technology that will let kids collect virtual cards via their mobile phones.

The Java-based tech works by downloading an applet to a mobile phone, purchasing virtual currency with a credit card or through the wireless carrier and then downloading virtual cards from a database. These new-fangled cards are sold in packs just like traditional trading cards, and buyers will not know which ones they’ve acquired until they ‘open’ the pack. The digi cards will come in different bits-and-bytes formats including straight text, pictures, audio and animated video. Cards can be swapped between phones and friends can also play games together to win more cards and purchasing points.

Geoff Watson, managing director of Yoram Gross, says the technology sparked a lot of interest at this past MIPTV and he’s looking for licenses, particularly popular kids and sports IPs. ‘We expect to go live with our first property by the third quarter of this year,’ he says, adding that MobiStax will initially launch in Australia with North America, Europe and Asia expected to follow in 2007.

PhoneTag maps out new gaming opp

A new venture from California-based broadband wireless service Amp’d Mobile and entertainment property producer LivePlanet is aiming to add another dimension to mobile gaming. PhoneTag will be played in real time, using Location Based Services technology. It’s kind of like a digital game of hide and seek, where linked players try to find and avoid each other using info transmitted to their handsets. Participants view the location of their targets on a map displayed on the phone’s screen and communicate via text messaging while in the throes of the game.

A game of PhoneTag can be organized through the Amp’d website (, where kids can set up a private match with their buddies or join a game organized by the company. Once in the game, players hook up to the website via their internet-enabled handsets to track the session’s progress.

PhoneTag will be available to Amp’d Mobile subscribers later this year for a yet-to-be determined monthly fee and LBS advertising and sponsorship programs are in the works. LivePlanet’s CEO Larry Tanz says the tech can be used to encourage players to interact directly with advertisers. If Pizza Hut signed on, for example, Tanz says Pizza Hut logos indicating the outlet locations would be inserted in the mobile city maps. Upon entering a highlighted location, players could unlock special features embedded in the game.

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