POP GOES THE REBOOT
Poptropica , the digital story-based learning environment created by Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney that targets K6-12 and has 2 million monthly active users, is getting a remake as to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The new incarnation, Poptropica Worlds, provides the StoryArc Media division with a more seamless experience between web and mobile along with enhanced games mechanics, greater customizability and new graphics. Abhi Arya, president, FEN Learning and StoryArc Media, and co-founder of Sandbox & Co, gives CynKids the low-down.
What are the key elements you’ve learned about the Poptropica audience thus far?
Poptropica recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and is still very popular among its key, and strongest, age demographic of 8-12 year olds. The Poptropica player’s journey of story-based islands combined with a customizable avatar is appealing to this audience and longstanding players now in their teens. Poptropica’s session time–one of our key engagement metrics–has maintained consistently high over years.
A more robust mobile app is part of Poptropica Worlds. Can you provide details about the mobile experience?
We’ve noticed a big shift to mobile over the years. We wanted to ensure that the Poptropica experience is as seamless on mobile as it is on web. As a result, we are launching a Poptropica refresh that provides seamless cross-platform experience on mobile and web. Also, we are slightly moving Poptropica toward learning so that our audience can learn newer skills thereby making the game a win-win for parents, teachers and our audience. Poptropica Worlds is built in Unity. This allows us to make a perfectly seamless experience across mobile and web: kids can begin playing Poptropica at school on a computer and pick up exactly where they left off when they get home to their tablet.
How does Poptropica fit into the overall Sandbox offering for kids?
Sandbox is a millennial education company; our goal is to help millennial children acquire the knowledge and skills they’ll need for today and tomorrow. We have an overarching learning framework that is embedded in every product in our portfolio. As we look at the journey of a child, we wanted to build an ecosystem that spans from birth (FamilyEducation for parenting advice) to preschool (Hopster) to early school years (Tinybop) to K-5 (Funbrain) to grade 3-8+ (Poptropica) and 8-12+(Factmonster & Infoplease). This way, we can cater to a specific learning and fun needs for each age segment.
DEVELOPMENT & PRODUCTION
Count Amazon among the OTT services making a play in the family entertainment realm. The service, which already has a stronghold in the kids arena, is developing The Dangerous Book for Boys, an original half-hour series from Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston and Superbad director Greg Mottola. The project, based on the book of the same name, received a straight-to-series six-ep order. Originally housed at NBC during the 2014-15 season, the series centers on brothers whose whimsical father leaves them with a copy of The Dangerous Book for Boys upon his death. One of the brothers, Wyatt, uses the book to enter a fantasy world, where he reconnects with his dad. Mottola will direct the series, which begins filming in NY this summer.
Raven-Symone ’s big Disney homecoming now has a date. Spinoff sitcom Raven’s Home will debut Friday, July 21 at 10p on Disney Channel, immediately following the premiere of Descendants 2. New episodes will then air in their regular time slot of Fridays at 8:30p.The new series returns the character of Raven Baxter from That’s So Raven, as well as cast mate Anneliese van der Pol as the free-spirited Chelsea. Leading up to the premiere, every episode from the four seasons of That’s So Raven will be available on the Disney Channel app and VOD beginning Thursday, June 1.
Arthur may have been on the air for 20-plus years, but this month marks the first time his witty little sister advances in age. D.W. is turning 5 in the one-hour special D.W. & the Beastly Birthday, airing May 29 on PBS Kids and encoring June 2. Young viewers will learn a valuable lesson about handling disappointment as D.W.’s birthday celebration goes awry. Additional new episodes of Arthur will air throughout the week of May 29 and will be available on streaming platforms in June.