Virtual Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon is building a virtual world in a bid to increase revenue in the real world. The company announced it is developing an entire virtual world, involving games, avatars and a strong social-networking component, based on network hit “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Nick also is expected to announce that it is developing Monkey World, a social-networking and massive multiplayer game based on an original concept and not tied to any of its existing franchises.The network also will announce that it will increase the interactivity on its Neopets site through a new virtual world called World of Neopia, and will add a paid tier to Nicktropolis, the overarching virtual world that’s divided into sections based on Nick television shows and other properties. SpongeBob, Monkey World and Neopia also will have paid tiers when they launch next year.

Nicktropolis currently averages about 1.5 million visitors per month, and executives said the paid tier will preserve that traffic by charging only for additional features like personalization. The company declined to disclose pricing details for the new tier or say what it might charge for various virtual words, though it’s likely that pay tiers could be a key part of its revenue strategy.

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