'Planet Michael Jackson' to launch
Michael Jackson will soon be getting a planet of his own, after the late star's estate entered a licensing deal with a Los Angeles company to create an online virtual world based on the King of Pop.
Planet Michael will live inside the Entropia Universe, a so-called "massively multiplayer online" game that has about 100,000 active users and is run by the Swedish company Mind Ark.
The estate will work with game publisher SEE Virtual Worlds to develop the game for release in late 2011. In it, fans will be able to collect and trade virtual Jackson merchandise, and earn credits by performing challenges related to his music and dance moves.
As in other virtual worlds, players can replenish their game accounts using real money.
Martin Biallas, CEO Of SEE Virtual Worlds, said game play will focus on Jackson's dance moves and adhere to his credo of non-violence, a departure from other online multiplayer games.
"With Michael Jackson, we're aiming at different game play," he said in an interview.
John Branca, Jackson's long-time lawyer and co-executor of his estate, said in a statement: "No artist unified the world like Michael Jackson, so it is fitting that in Planet Michael his fans will be able to join together in such a unique way online."
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Jackson's estate has grown immensely since his sudden death on June 25, 2009 at age 50. Ventures including a multiyear record deal with Sony Music based on unreleased recordings and a movie based on concert rehearsal footage have brought the estate more than 250 million dollars in the year since his death.