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NEWSFLASH: WebkinzInsider.Com Interviews Webkinz Creative Director!!

WI users and Webkinz fans everywhere, the answers to all of your questions are here!!!

As many of you may recall, a few weeks ago, WebkinzInsider.Com was granted an exclusive interview with the Webkinz Creative Director.  We were allowed to ask 20 questions, so we decided that it was best to ask all of our members what questions they wanted asked. 

We sorted through over 1,200 posts, most containing multiple questions and selected 20, which were sent on to the Webkinz Creative Director for the interview.  We felt that these 20 questions best represented the members of WebkinzInsider.Com and all Webkinz fans, young and old.

Included in this article is the entire interview.  Our questions are in bold and the Creative Director's answers are in italics.  We'd like to thank all of our members for getting us to this point that we have been recognized by Ganz.  Without all of you, and your passion for Webkinz and WI, this would never have happened.

[... Read more for the interview ...]

Thank you for all of the great questions. Before I begin I need to say that a lot of you want to know what exciting ideas and features we have in store, and that's understandable. Unfortunately we can not give out specific details about these features or exactly when they will be ready. With this in mind, I've answered the questions to the best as I can.

Question 1 -- Asked by multiple About rooms: Will we ever be able to enlarge our room size (after they are bought or after adoption) and/or move/sell them? Further, will we ever be able to move/eliminate doors?

While I can't go into the exact details of what we have planned, more control over your house layout is something that we've put a lot of thought into and is something that we definitely want to add to Webkinz World. We know that our fans put a lot of effort into designing their homes and we have a number of upgrades planned (including some you'll really be surprised by).

Question 2 -- Asked by multiple About you: What is the best and worst thing about your job as creative director? Do you actually play Webkinz? Whats your favorite webkinz and what is your favorite part of webkinz?

The best part of my job is seeing work that we've being thinking about and working on for months finally get onto the site and go over well. The Academy is a great example of this, as was the Fall Festival. The worst part is having to wait to see the many ideas we've come up with get onto the site. The fact is you can only develop so much in one year, and you have to prioritize. That means that features I think would be a lot of fun sometimes have to wait while we work on something else.

Of course I play on Webkinz! I play everyday and not just because it's my job. I play all of my dailies, tend to my garden, take my classes, and get in some games of Cash Cow 2, Home Before Dark or DiceKinz. You probably think I have millions of KinzCash and every item as well. I don't. My account on the live site has just one pet, and has never had any KinzCash or items added. It's important for me to know what its like to play just like everyone else. Each person on our creative team plays regularly and was just as excited to get their Crown of Wonder as you were.

I love dogs, so my favorite pets are the dogs. My one pet is a St. Bernard, so I'll go with that. I also really like the Husky and the Black Lab (the upcoming Collie is amazing as well). I can't really say I have a favorite part of the site, but I'm really proud of how the Curio Shop and Employment Office turned out.

Question 3 -- Asked by multiple About WW functionality: Will we ever be able to move more than one of our pets at a time to a particular room? A "calling all pets" type of button?

We get this request from time to time, but there are really too many issues with the idea such as figuring out where to put all of the pets and what do to if there are more pets than spaces in the room. I'm not saying it won't happen, but it isn't a priority.

 Question 4 -- Asked by multiple About "Seasonal": We all would like to know what the distinction is between "retired" and "seasonal"? Basically, your fans want to know, will "Sherbet Bunny" and "Love Puppy" ever return?

First, as we have said before, retired is retired. It means the pet will not be back in stores once it's gone. Seasonal pets are intended for a short release around a holiday. Because they are around for such a short time, we want to keep the opportunity open to release them again if we decide to. The Sherbet Bunny and Love Puppy will not be returning in 2008, but they may return in the future.

 Question 5 -- Asked by bearbowler About the future: With other companies going to the internet with their worlds such as Kookeys, Penguins and the newest one being Build-A-Bearville; does Ganz have plans on updating Webkinz World to be able to walk around town, down streets, into shops, restaurants, gas stations, etc. as these other worlds are doing? If not, how does Ganz plan on keeping ahead of the crowd?

If you could hop into a teleporter instead of driving to the store, would you do it? We want to put the effort into the places you get to so that you have a lot of fun while you're there. That said, we know that it's a lot of fun to play as your pet, so we will be expanding this way of playing in Webkinz World in some really new and fun ways.

And this is how we'll stay ahead of the competition. Never following. Always taking our ideas in exciting directions.

Question 6 -- Asked by multiple About the themes: Will there ever be any other new Rare themes like the Egyptian, Medieval, & Science Theme? A Greek theme, a Parisian Theme, Roman theme, etc... Would it be possible to make a series of room themes based off of different countries from around the world?

We have an amazing new rare theme all ready to go. We're just waiting on a couple of fixes to the Curio Shop before we release it.

Question 7 -- Asked by fairlyoddmom About a child's perspective: As a mother who enjoys your product on her own, who has a child who enjoys it on her own AND who enjoys playing on this site WITH her child, what steps you all take to make sure your site is designed with the child's perspective in mind. Do you have a group of parental advisers? Do you ever consider the opinions of child psychologists or educators? Do you employ parents on your creative team?

We created the site from the start for kids aged 6-13 and have designed features to meet how kids of those ages play. Of course we want the features to be fun for us as well (like I said, I play daily) so it is no wonder that the site works so well for both kids and adults. As for the other questions, all I can say is that we do have a teacher and an early childhood educator on the creative team, and that I never really grew up.

Question 8 -- Asked by Tamster About Webkinz creation: What is the creative process you go through in picking and choosing what animal you decide to create for Webkinz world, and there Pet specific items?

Ganz has a long history of making great plush toys, so our plush department decides on which new pets will be arriving in Webkinz World each year. We create their Pet Specific Items though, and that's a fun process. We have some specific rules we live by for PSIs and we strive to make every item exciting, original, and be distinct for that pet. We're really proud of some of our upcoming PSIs. The Love Frog (next Valentine's pet) has a gorgeous heart-shaped pond with animated heart-shaped ripples!

Question 9 -- Asked by LilyPad1394, kuwlkinz About KinzChat Plus: What are the main reasons you closed kinzchat (plus), and do you have (an approximate date) as to when it will come back? Will you ever come out with KinzChat PLUS for our Webkinz homes? So we can talk to the people that we invite over?

I'm surprised this is question 9. I expected it to be number 1. KinzChat Plus was very popular, but a few bad seeds showed us that we needed to make sure that our system was even better. I will say that we learned a lot from the few months it was open, lessons that have driven a lot of creative design for 2008. Unfortunately the KinzChat Plus update has taken a lot longer than expected. We really want to get it back up and active, but we want to make sure that our solution is the best on the market. Can I tell you an exact date? No, but let me say that this is very high priority.

Note that some of the other improvements we've made to the Clubhouse will be arriving very soon.

Question 10 -- Asked by multiple About interaction: Do you have any plans for pets to interact or acknowledge each other? For example, the 'best friends' from the Bio do something special when they see each other?

While we won't be adding full A.I. to our pets - we like the idea that you decide how they play - we will be giving our pets some exciting new tricks in 2008. I can't go into detail, but we've got some great ideas cooked up.

Question 11 -- Asked by multiple About Cheekys: We've all heard that "Cheeky news" is coming and know that the Cheeky Dog/Cat won't be coming back as Webkinz. Will they be coming back as Lil Cheeky Dog and Lil Cheeky Cat?

The new Cheeky pet won't be a Lil' Kinz. All I can say other than that is that I've seen it and it's really cute.

Question 12 - Asked by multiple About Inventory: Is there any way to implement an inventory system and integrate it with the map somehow? Or a "search" so we can select "find Humvee Toy SUV" and it will tell us where things are?

This is what I'd call a "Power User" feature. While it's great for someone with 50+ rooms and 1000 items, it's not really needed by the vast majority of our members. Let's all remember that most Webkinz members are quite young, and would never use such a tool. Like many things, we have discussed it but have decided not to make it a priority.

Question 13 - Asked by multiple About storage: With the new dock limits, do you plan to implement storage options for coupons, wallpapers, flooring and anything else that can't currently be stored?

There are a number of ideas we are working on to help with storage. We're working on much higher capacity items, such as fridges that can hold 24 pieces of food. We will also address the coupons/coverings issue.

Question 14 - Asked by multiple About trading cards: Many people were disappointed with the low amounts of KinzCash given as prizes and how difficult it was to complete the set. Will series 2 have higher value prizes and/or be easier to fully unlock?

All I can say at this time about Series II is that it will be much easier to unlock your binder. The collection feature we added to Pet of the Month (where you don't get duplicates) will be added to the packs for the hard-to-find inserts.

As a bonus bit of info, the free pet code cards will now be a surprise when you register them. And we've included some our hardest to find pets in the pool of codes.

Question 15 - Asked by UNKNOWN, multiple About boys : Since you have added a charm forest and a kinz style shop, will you be adding any '"boy things" to extend the appeal of Webkinz World to boys, perhaps with sport-style games etc?

We have some good games planned for 2008 that we think boys will really enjoy. As well, we will continue to do rooms themes, like Automotive, that are more for our male fans. Finally, we're going to be adding some new competitive features to the site - stay tuned!

 Question 16 - Asked by multiple About Kinz Cash : Does Ganz have plans to implement a bank with savings accounts, CDs, or other investment opportunities for us to earn KinzCash by learning responsible saving/investment habits? Are there plans for people to be able to buy virtual pets or Kinz Cash directly?

That's cheating a little, these are two completely different questions ☺. For the first, we do have plans to add a bank to Webkinz World, and we've designed it to be one of the best implementation of a bank on the net. As for the second question- well, you'll be getting an answer very soon.

 Question 17 - Asked by rmwife1 About pets/ideas: What are some Webkinz ideas that turned out to be rejects?

The first room we built was awful. It was just a sticker book and it wasn't fun at all. I mean you could put a basketball on the ceiling and it would just stay there. So we pulled out the stops and made the great room we have now (that everyone else is copying). We actually had the feature that you could kick the soccer ball around the room as well, but it wasn't very good, and just seemed weak in comparison to the rest of the site, so we pulled it. It happens. We only want to put the best ideas onto our site, and not everything can make the cut.

Question 18 - Asked by zookeeper About language: As you may be aware, your target age range also corresponds to the ideal age for foreign language learning. Are there any plans to create a section on Webkinz geared towards that?

There are no plans to add teaching foreign languages to the site.

Question 19 - Asked by multiple Time zones: Can you please explain the new time zones option and what it means for Webkinz World going forward?

If you make a new account, you can now choose to play in European (London) time or Australia/Japan time. Everyone is still playing the same world, and can still play with anyone else, but your KinzTime clock (and hence your Today's Activities) will be at a different time. This will allow kids from around the world to enjoy all of the fun that Webkinz has to offer.

Question 20 - Asked by multiple Future Webkinz: Besides the "known future Webkinz" (Charcoal Cat, Collie, Easter Duck, Love Frog, Penguin, Turtle), can you tell us of any new ones?

Sorry, no. We can't discuss new pets before our retailers have been informed about our new releases. That said, we do think that some of our 2008 pets will just fly into your hearts!

There you go. Thanks again for all of your great questions. Everyone on the Webkinz team works very hard to make our site as fun as it is, and it's a great feeling to have such amazing fans.

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