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Can Ganz's Webkinz--plush animals with online alter egos--stay ahead of the copycats?
Webkinz are the hottest things in toyland--and competitors have noticed. The little plush animals come with codes that activate an online version of the toy in a virtual "Webkinz World." At least eight other companies are trying to follow Webkinz's lead, with similar new products that link real-world toys with the Web.
Virtually every toy-industry heavy hitter is involved. Dollmaker Russ Berrie is selling Webkinz-like Shining Stars at Toys 'R' Us and other major retailers. Mattel has created a new online world for Barbie. And Hasbro's Littlest Pet Shop has a VIP ("virtual interactive pet") section.
So Ganz, the privately held Toronto company behind Webkinz, is trying to stay ahead of the pack with a push into accessories. In addition to $15 stuffed animals, Webkinz fans also can buy $7.50 lip gloss, $9 bottles of mango body spritz, and various charms, bookmarks, and clothing items. Like the animals, each accessory has its own code that redeems a prize for pets' online avatars.
Webkinz are sold in a variety of stores, including card shops, gift shops, and some big chains like Target. Hallmark stores have sprouted accessories displays just as big as the cases of stuffed animals. At Limited Too, a hip mall shop where tween girls go to see and be seen, 11% of store transactions involved a Webkinz product in the last quarter. "The pink polka-dot hoodie for these animals...is just one of the best-selling items we have anywhere in the store," says Robert Atkinson, who directs investor relations for Tween Brands, which owns Limited Too. Ganz, which doesn't disclose its financials, must now strike a delicate balance: maximizing profit from the fad without alienating parents and kids. Visitors to Webkinz.com spent more than a million hours there in November, but the site is free. As a result, "they haven't made anywhere near as much money as you'd think," says Sean McGowan, an analyst at Needham, who guesses Webkinz sales are north of $100 million. He adds that none of the nascent competitors has figured out how to capitalize on kids' Web time, either.
Indeed, Ganz has stumbled trying to cash in. In mid-December, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood noticed ads on Webkinz World for the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. More than 1,000 protest letters were sent to Ganz. In October, Webkinz ran a similar campaign for Bee Movie. Ganz spokesperson Susan McVeigh says no further online ads are planned, but she did not rule them out for the future. Ganz has "selective standards about what we would consider."
I think this post is going in the wrong direction. Skittlebug7 wanted people to understand it is frustrating but it is not the biggest problem in the world. If Ganz did shut down the site for a couple of days to fix the issues there would probably be about thousands of posts of people who hate Ganz because they could not log in for 2 or 3 days. It is a situation that Ganz can't win. I know it is upsetting to lose an item but I also know how much time and money it takes to keep a website like webkinz up and going. An example is Microsoft. When Microsoft released Windows XP, there were 60,000 KNOWN bugs and glitches. (That's why there are updates for computers) So please, before you complain, look at the bright side. There may be glitches and problems but as a whole, the site is a lot of fun and I enjoy playing the games for fun, the KC is just a bonus. I have fun trying to beat my high score. My Goober's Lab high score is now over 102,000
PEOPLE!!! Please STOP making these theards! I know we have had promblems but I haven't seen them in forever! They just cuze fights right now! I'm sorry you had good points but I don't think we need these at this time. Thank you
Well, I can say that I gained or rather 're'gained from this thread about complaining. It IS true that WW is only a website and the pets are virtual- NOT REAL. I've become addicted - yes, Im an addict - to WW and have taken things way too serious lately about the 'inconveniences' on the site.
After reading a few of these posts, my negative thoughts have turned positive by appreciating the site for what it 'virtually' is... A website designed for entertainment purposes. A website where I, as a parent, feel very comfortable allowing my children to play (and Learn) online. These sites are rare.
Shame on me!! Ill try to control my frustrations while learning patience.
Ganz's best solution is to shut down the site over night from hour x to hour y so they can do all the updating and fixing that is required. My Brother is a computer programmer, most of the companies he works for do have planned shut downs, either over a long holiday or over night. If it is announced ahead of time, and If they could do something special for the kids, a little thank you gift for your patience, for instance, a two day shut down wouldn't cause any issues for anyone, unless they're hopelessly addicted. I think Ganz had an amazing idea that just blew up far faster than they had anticipated, so now is the time to take a tiny step back, breathe, and fix what needs fixing and move on, that way they'll still be far ahead of the rest of them in terms of quality AND more importantly, improved customer service.
I'm starting to think that there's more threads complaining about people complaining then there is threads that are complaining about Ganz. I totally agree though, If someone looses and Item they shouldn't go parading around saying how much they hate Ganz, they should try to contact them about it. I was also appauled when I saw the words "Ganz is greedy" in someone's siggy. The first words that popped into my head when I saw it were "Well then why the heck are you playing on webkinz if you hate them so much?" Lol, some people make me mad.
Well, I am that person who had those exact words in my avater. I never said I hated Ganz. When did you see me say "I hate webkinz?". Can you name a time? No. You can't. Because I never said that I hated Webkinz. I actually enjoy it a lot. But the truth is, they are gettting greedy. They are adding all this stuff that you have to buy something to unlock. They fix the glitches that help us. but when was the last time they fixed one that ruins our day on WW? I never paraded around saying that I hated Ganz. I am suprised that appalled you. You said: "Well then why the heck are you playing on webkinz if you hate them so much?" Saying Ganz is greedy does not imply that I hate them. It does not at all. You also were putting words in my mouth, which most consider rude, including me. Please think before you post something like that. One last time: I never said that I hate Ganz.
To whoever started this thread(and whoever is thinking the same!): Don't post anymore of these threads! It will only bring more complaining!
Thank you for the news article Webkinzmama! I still can't believe people complained about the Bee and Alvin ads!
I understand why people were upset about the movie ads on Webkinz. Those movies also produced other products, movie tie-ins that aren't just cute little outfits for the Webkinz, but toys, clothes, games, so mostly the complaints were that on one hand it's supposed to be a place kids can play without being bombarded with ads saying "BUY ME" yet here were ads for movies that have tie ins that were being pushed, however subtley, on kids to "BUY ME" Personally I wasn't worried about it, but I understand why some parents may have looked at is being a little sneaky way to advertise to the kids more than just the movies.
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