Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kingsisle's Interesting Lean Toward Disney

It was a big news media blitz yesterday. The Fred Howard and Ben Conrad Marketing/PR team had a busy weekend at PAX 2010 chatting up some rather ginormous news about Selena Gomez coming to the spiral. Then, BOOM, Wizard101 posted, Massively posted, What They Play posted, MMORPG posted, At least 14 Wizard101 bloggers yesterday posted (just look at the blog roll on the right) about Selena Gomez coming to the spiral . . . Why even Celebglitz posted! Everybody in the freaking world posted. And a good chunk of Selena Fans asked this question, "what's Wizard101?"

Me? I was at work, but even I twittered about it. Cripes, people, it was the perfect media storm for Wizard101 yesterday.

But, I have to say something about what I've noticed Kingsisle doing and that is a crazy new dance move I call The Disney Lean. Let's do a search on the term "Wizard101 Pixar" . . . what you're going to find is that Kingsisle has been dropping the Pixar reference for a while now. With this Selena Gomez addition to the game, it's like Kingsisle is passing a note in the hallway to the popular kid (aka Walt Disney . . . or one of his living relatives) that's basically asking them on a date. OH MY WORD KINGSISLE WANTS TO DATE DISNEY! As was said in the Massively article yesterday, "KingsIsle feels that this is a huge vote of confidence for the legitimacy of MMOs in mainstream pop culture."

So let's wander down the path of buyouts. You may remember when Pixar was bought by Disney . . . no? Well it was in 2006 and came at the price tag of 7.4 billion dollars.

The owner of Kingsisle is Elie Akilian. I haven't talked much (or pretty much at all) about Elie Akilian on this blog because he's mostly behind the scenes. You do get to see him in the very first Wizard101 video though. He says with excitement, "Here. Hey! You want to see something cool? I mean like really really cool?" Yup, that guy there is one smart businessman.

If you go to the University of Texas at Arlington's website and look at their list of Distinguished Alumni, you'll see Elie listed down on 1998. Here's what it has to say about him:

Sam Simonian and Elie Akilian both graduated from UTA with degrees in electrical engineering. Family friends who grew up together in Beirut, they left Lebanon as teenagers to escape the country's civil war and eventually came to study at UTA. In 1989, they invested their savings in an idea they and another friend had mapped out on the back of a napkin at a Denny's restaurant late one night. From that late-night encounter, Inet Technologies was born, with Simonian as president and CEO and Akilian as executive vice president. Inet became a multimillion-dollar international company with almost 300 employees, supplying telecommunications products to a customer base that included AT&T, MCI, Sprint, Southwestern Bell and British Telecom. From 1996 to 1997, Inet sales more than doubled, jumping from $17 million to $42 million. The company's success has been recognized with several awards including Dallas' Fastest Growing Company (SMU 1993), Entrepreneurs of the Year ( Inc. Magazine , 1994 Southwest Region), Fastest Revenue Growth Private Company (Dallas Business Journal 1996) and Inc. 500 ( Inc. Magazine 1996)

That blurb needs to be updated . . . fast forward to 2004 . . . Inet is bought out by Tektronix for a price tag of around $325 million.

Concerning that deal, Elie is quoted as saying this:
"We are very excited about this opportunity," said Elie Akilian, President and Chief Executive Officer of Inet. "The synergies between our two companies - in terms of products, sales channels, customer care and strategic focus - are substantial. This transaction provides Inet the scale needed to successfully capitalize on the significant growth opportunities in today's mobile data and VoIP markets. Our stockholders should be pleased with the resulting combination - a global market leader offering a broad portfolio of products that address the entire technology life cycle to the world's leading network operators and equipment manufacturers. This also provides a great growth opportunity for our employees to become part of a $1 billion company with significant worldwide resources and footprint."

So what am I saying with all this? Well, if I was Elie Akilian, which I'm definitely not (picks lint from pockets), I would put my sights on Disney, and it wouldn't surprise me if we see in another 13 years this same message only with the names of Kingsisle and Disney replacing those of Inet and Tektronix and that silly talk of mobile data and VoIP replaced with talk of MMOs and entertainment.

What do I think a buyout of Kingsisle by Disney would do for us as players of Wizard101? Well, I think we'd see a whole lot more plushies and pins and clothes and TV shows and feature length movies and EVERYTHING that a full scale, powerful Disney commercial blitz can muster.

Here's a fun picture of J. Todd Coleman giving PC Gamer a cute little hand-crafted plush gobbler.

That little plushy at this point is a one-of-a-kind. If I was PC Gamer, I'd lock that sucker away $$$.

. . .

THEN AGAIN, Disney already has a video game company and lots of games and they don't even need Kingsisle. They have the Toontown MMO and they totally failed on the commercial blitz that could have happened with that, so what's that all about Friendly!? I don't know . . . to me Disney uses their video games as part of their commercial blitz and not vice versa. They don't blitz their video games, they blitz their products with video games. Disney scooping up Kingsisle would bring them a whole *NEW* set of characters that are begging to be blitzed.

. . .

Obviously I don't know jack about the corporate strategies of Kingsisle or Disney. I'm just a blogger who tries to take notice of the writing on the wall. When I see Kingsisle dropping Disney metaphors all over the place and Selena coming to the spiral, I think positioning for a buyout. Is that bad? No. Happens all the time in business, and the fans would probably get a lot of the power of Disney that the staff of 120 at Kingsisle couldn't possibly provide us.

Just something to ponder.

Happy Dueling!


Kestrel Shadowthistle said...

Personally, I have a feeling that if Wizard101 gets all Disneyed, we're going to have to pay more for exclusive benefits you can only get by purchasing the 2 disc blu-ray special edition of the Wizard101 Pixar movie. Seems like I'm gonna have to pay more to play the game I'm already fine with. That is, IF Disney buys Wizards...

Anonymous said...

As the saying goes " if it's not broken don't fix it". KI doesen't need Disney,they are doing great things all on thier own.If this game goes all " mickey mouse " on us , then I for one may be looking at other MMO's for my gaming fix.
~my 2 cents
~Marcus Deathwalker

Heather Raven said...

Whoa Nellie! Who said anything about Disney? Has Disney even been metioned? No. Has Selena's visit mentioned anything involving Wizards of Waverly or Disney? No. It's about her album.

I don't think it's so clear yet. So let's not count our chickens before they hatch.

The Evil Theurgists said...

Disney's customer support and relationship with it's fansite=0 Disney has got to be the worst in customer support from my experiences. I would be very sad if a buyout of Kingsisle where to happen. Disney just wants the money they will make a big update and hint that something bigger is coming and then never deliver, Toontown has yet to had a update in 2 years that actually has new playable content. Not just a new "feature"

The Evil Theurgists said...

Wait wait wait, Fred and Ben where at PAX!!! I thought the people wearing all that Wizard101 gear was just fans! D:

Beast Master said...

I will stop Plaing, Disney messed up the Power Rangers, would would they do to my all time favorite game.
I dare not to think about it :(

John Spiritshade said...

Lol! No, Power Rangers were messed up before disney.. Joke! ( they just werent my cup of tea! )

Personally I think KingsIsle has its charm, they have plans for their own future games, and I don't they will sell up... I can see in the future ( however far away it may be ) KingsIsle being a major games company. But you never know. I think any company buying another is almost always a sad thing, so I hope that KingsIsle stays and strives to be even bigger and better on its own. :)

But anything to do with plushies- count me in. Haha!