Virtual World Licensing Virtual World Licensing is a Strategic Brand and Licensing Consultancy, working with Digital Gaming Brands (inc. Virtual Worlds, Apps and more) to roadmap and facilitate successful entry into the Toy Industry and other product categories in the real world. – Brand Profile

Posted in Uncategorized on 15 August 2013 – Brand Profile

EdCity_Ad is a brand we tracked for several years prior to our being appointed as brand licensing agents, as we believed very strongly from the point of first discovering the brand that it would readily lend itself to a licensing and merchandising program.

The brand & site are completely educationally focused, with content designed by expert Educationalists based on government regulated national curriculum content. So in terms of educational credentials the brand has them in abundance. Just as impressively from the perspective of potential Licensing is the high quality character universe and animation featured throughout. These cartoon style characters create a fun learning environment, as well as emphasising & defining the brand identity even further, increasing suitability for  merchandising.

The other overwhelming factor with is the sheer scale of metrics, combined with the depth and breadth of interaction. Key facts are as follows:

  • is used by more than 15,000 primary schools worldwide.
  • Actively used in 8,500+ UK primary schools = more than 35% of all UK primary schools.
  • Millions of online activities completed each month.
  • Extremely high customer retention.
  • 98% of schools would recommend to other schools.
  • Multi award winning including BETT Awards, Practical Pre-school Awards & ERA 2013 Finalist.

One of the most interesting factors with from a Licensee’s perspective is that the site is really popular with kids, as well as being well known & trusted among parents. Thus it can achieve the rarity of a double endorsement within the usual child targeted merchandise purchase dynamic.

We’re looking for partners in Publishing, Board Games & Puzzles, Apps (Mobile & Tablet), Science Kits/Toys and other relevant categories. Conversations are at advanced stages with several potential Licensees, so we welcome swift expressions of interest from interested parties!

To find out more about how acquiring an product license can work for you, please email:

Steve Reece: Steve Reece

Simon Kay: Simon Kay Partners With Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media For Brand Licensing Program

Posted in Uncategorized on 01 July 2013 partners with Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media for Brand Licensing program


London, UK – 1st July 2013 –, the world’s leading online provider of curriculum driven engaging educational content for schools today announced the start of a new licensing partnership with Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media to roll out consumer-facing educational merchandise and app iterations of the brand globally.

“ is a brand we have been following for some time.” said Steve Reece, CEO, Virtual World Licensing “With its huge installed base and massive metrics, combined with market leading educational content, it’s known and respected by both children and parents, and as such we see a significant commercial opportunity for licensees in multiple categories.”

AT New Media, CEO, Simon Kay said “With we have a huge opportunity to expand the brand into the consumer world of apps and tablets, to maximise the reach and educational influence of the brand. We’re working to secure industry leading app developers to work with in rolling out the program.” can be found at:

Since its founding in 1999, has remained faithful to its commitment to produce unparalleled educational experiences based on highly engaging content and exceptional quality.

Dedicated to creating new ways of delivering curriculum content, recognised with awards by educationalists and adored by children everywhere, pioneers the evolution of teaching with technology in the new digital learning era.  Today, is used and trusted by over 15,500 schools, including 43% of UK primary schools, with almost 3 million online activities completed each week.

Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media are leading UK based licensing agencies specializing in the world of gaming. With a team of interactive games and licensing experts they represent a growing portfolio of global game brands. Leveraging core brand strengths they create high performing product opportunities that extend virtual brands to the physical world.

“We are proud of the positive impact has on the educational development of children.” said Richard Whalley, MD, EducationCity Ltd. “We’re now looking to extend this positive impact beyond our core schools market via a program of carefully developed consumer-facing apps & physical products. Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media understand the unique nuances and integral educational credibility of our brand and will ensure that while our reach grows, the robust educational credentials of the brand and its positive educational influence are maintained.”

About is a leading developer and publisher of educational content for schools with offices in Rutland, UK, and Dallas and Minneapolis, USA. We employ over 100 people comprising talented artists, programmers, producers, trainers and school support teams. We have a large network of specialist educational advisors spanning the world.

In 2012 generated over £10 million in revenues and continue to invest heavily in both our online services and delivery capabilities. Including additional free product upgrades to maintain our market leading position, and ever greater capacity at our server farms housed in secure, enterprise level data centres in London, Minneapolis and Dallas, ensuring customers continue to enjoy faultless service provision.

For more information, please contact: Steve Reece

Space Heroes Universe – A Brand Profile

Posted in Uncategorized on 21 May 2013

Space Heroes Universe – A Brand Profile

Before we (Virtual World Licensing and our partners in this space – AT New Media) agree to work with App, Virtual World or Gaming Brands, we look at the level of ‘Toyetic’ appeal the Brand has, and how easily it will translate into other types of merchandise.

When looking at Space Heroes Universe, our analysis revealed a very high rating for Toyetic appeal & merchandising potential. Space Heroes is one of the most highly toyetic Virtual World brands we’ve looked at.

Once we were assured of this fact we began to investigate the story behind the Brand itself, and it’s a compelling narrative:

  • Created by an award winning developer in Australia.
  • A true multi-media Brand, with Virtual World, Apps, animated cartoons released via digital channels inc. YouTube.
  • A roadmap for development that’s platform-agnostic evolving from a traditional web-based context to a mobile future
  • Available in 15 languages.
  • Strong back story featuring the perennially attractive themes of Space, Heroes & Villains.
  • Strong character universe supporting all major merchandising categories.
  • Ongoing heavyweight marketing campaign.
  • A parent-friendly approach – focused on fun, but considering age-appropriate content,  safety and privacy
  • Massively engaged user base.
  • Opportunity for integrated marketing i.e. promotion of licensed physical products in the online experience.
  • Recognition from kids and parents, having secured Creative Child Magazine’s 2012 Game of the Year as well as the Mom’s Choice Awards Silver Medal and a Parent’s Choice Approved Award.

Based on this heavy hitting Brand story, we’re currently working to rollout Brand Licensing across EMEA for Space Heroes Universe.

To find out more about how acquiring a Space Heroes Universe product license can work for you, please email:

Steve Reece
Simon Kay


Bubble Gum Interactive partners with Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media for Space Heroes Universe Licensing program in UK and EMEA

Posted in Uncategorized on 02 May 2013

Bubble Gum Interactive partners with Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media for Space Heroes Universe Licensing program in UK and EMEA.

Sydney, Australia – 2nd May 2013 – Bubble Gum Interactive, the award-winning developer of highly compelling games, today announced the start of a new licensing partnership with Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media to focus on their rapidly growing kids online game Space Heroes Universe!

With a true focus on storytelling Space Heroes Universe is a multi-platform brand experience with an epic intergalactic adventure being told via the virtual world, mobile games and an animated cartoon series. Nearly 2 million players from around the world have signed up for adventure. In the free-to-play game, kids can personalise their hero, adopt virtual pet Kritterz, make new friends and explore an ever expanding galaxy full of quests, adventure and fun. Rated E for Everyone and certified kidSAFE+, Space Heroes Universe is a hit with kids and parents, having secured Creative Child Magazine’s 2012 Game of the Year as well as the Mom’s Choice Awards Silver Medal and a Parent’s Choice Approved Award.

Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media are leading UK based licensing agencies specializing in the world of gaming and toys. With a team of interactive games and toy licensing experts they represent a growing portfolio of global game brands. Leveraging core brand strengths they create high performing toy and merchandising opportunities that extend these virtual brands to the physical world.

“Whether exploring the galaxy in our award-winning kids virtual world, jetting off for adventure in our mobile game or following the adventures of our space heroes in our online cartoons, our fans are continually looking for new ways to enjoy the Space Heroes Universe! story.” said Phil Mason, CEO, Bubble Gum Interactive “Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media understand the unique nuances of game brands and will no doubt bring some amazing Space Heroes Universe! merchandise to our European fans.”

“Space Heroes Universe is precisely the type of property we look for with a unique and compelling story that can translate into a successful merchandising program.” said Steve Reece, CEO, Virtual World Licensing “With its strong UK presence and a rapidly growing fanbase in the EMEA, we’re certain Space Heroes fans will be delighted to extend their experience.”

Kids can strap on their jetpacks, fire up their starjets and blast off for adventure at

About Bubble Gum Interactive
Bubble Gum Interactive is an independent game development studio headquartered in Sydney, Australia. Our mission is to create compelling and engaging gaming experiences with a focus on fun, creativity, quality and story. Our first game, Space Heroes Universe! is a multi-award winning kids virtual world in which players create their own hero and explore a galaxy full of fun and adventure. Our first game for mobile, Jetpack Jinx is available for Google Play and Apple iOS with more games launching in 2013. Discover more at

About Virtual World Licensing & AT New Media
Virtual World Licensing was founded by Toy industry veteran Steve Reece to facilitate the entry of digital brands into the toy market. Steve previously worked for Hasbro, Activision and Imagination. He has managed Toy companies and ventures trading in over 60 countries worldwide, managed in excess of 200 commercial & licensing contracts and worked with brands valued at $billions in value. AT New Media is run by Simon Kay, the company offers consultancy and agency services that are solely focussed on licensing opportunities within the digital games, and gaming market. For more information, please go to or

New Venture To Deliver Toy Licensing Consultancy To Gaming & Social Brands

Posted in Uncategorized on 27 March 2013

New Brand Development & Licensing solution for Digital Content, Games Developers, and Publishers

Today we announce a new venture on behalf of our Virtual World Licensing division. Here’s the official release:

Leading consultancy groups AT New Media, and Virtual World Licensing today announce a new venture.

AT New Media Virtual World Licensing will offer Consultancy services to Gaming, Social and Virtual Brands seeking to enter the world of Toy Licensing.

AT New Media CEO Simon Kay said

“At a time when the gaming and app market is what everyone is talking about, it is important to offer the market high quality solutions. This new venture brings together two parties with strong and complimentary skill sets and contact networks, enabling us to offer a powerfully effective solution to those gaming and social brands who want to increase their revenue via toy licensing. By working with Virtual World Licensing we will be able to focus on delivering value using our intimate knowledge of the Gaming world.”

Virtual World Licensing CEO Steve Reece said

“We’re finding more and more digital brands are seeking to enter the Toy market. The challenge for many of them is that they have normaly done a fantastic job of building their brands, but don’t have the knowledge, resources or expertise in toy licensing and publishing to enable them to efficiently maximise the opportunity, while managing the brand and ensuring a two way flow of benefits – the brand creating licensing revenue, and the licensing program creating further ‘buzz’ and buy-in from consumers. By partnering with AT New Media, we combine our intimate knowledge of the toy market in the UK, Europe, North America and beyond, with cutting edge insight and presence in the Gaming world.”

Both companies are keen to stress that is a Consultancy first, and Agency second. The new venture will first manage the brand licensing roadmap for digital brands to ensure the brand’s are ready for licensing, and to allow for tweaking to increase likely revenue, before pursuing potential licensees and licensing partnerships.

For more information, please contact:

Steve Reece
Simon Kay

Trends In Toy Licensing

Posted in Uncategorized on 01 March 2013

Toy Licensing Trends

The past decade has seen some fundamental shifts in the world of Toy Licensing, this article looks at 3 major trends over the past few years, and for the years to come:


1. Toy Companies creating/controlling their own content – this trend seems obvious now. Why would major Toy companies with significant cash at hand choose to keep investing in other people’s Entertainment Brands when they can invest in their own? Well ast one point the focus was very much on who could win the boggest and hottest 3rd party licenses, with less focus on owned or controlled Brands. This has clearly changed – from Mattel’s massively ballsy and highly successful Monster High, to Hasbro’s movie strategy and The Hub, Toy companies are doing it more and more for themselves. This trend will continue.


2. Consolidation In Ownership Of Entertainment Brands – there is one very clear example of this in the last couple of years – Disney! Having bought Marvel and all those fantastic superheroes, they then swooped in for Lucasfilm, giving them ownership/control of even more of the top Entertainment Brands. This trend isn’t restricted to Disney though, ownership of TV production companies is routinely consolidated i.e. Mattel buying HIT Entertainment.


3. Brands coming from different media – the most striking examples of this would be Moshi Monsters and Monster High. Moshi being an online virtual world, and Monster High being driven by ‘webisodes’ versus the usual cartoons with TV placement. The opportunity for Toy Licensing from digital brands is strong. One of the most surprising features of thsi trend is that whereas TV properties with only average placement/viewer numbers appear to obtain Toy Licensees without too much trauma, there has of yet been very little backfilling for 2nd and 3rd tier digital Brands. Needless to say this is an opportunity our business has been setup to capitalise on, so if you’re a digital Brand owner seeking Toy Licensees, or a toy company seeking digital Brands, drop us a line!



Why Retailers Love Brands

Posted in Uncategorized on 16 January 2013

Why Retailers Love Brands

Anyone who has ever been in the vicinity of a sales pitch to retail will have noticed that retailers are vastly more likely to list a Brand they know than a completely new product or a generic/commodity type product line.

There are a few different reasons for this, but above all, the biggest reason is because Brands which the consumer knows, likes and trusts, and which have existing merchandise in market are vastly more likely to sell off retail shelves/via online stores.

In case you hadn’t realised, retail is a tough, cutthroat business. Buying product, to sell at a slim margin is hard work, especially when all your competition (of whom there are normally lots) are also selling the same products. The main criteria for success is buying the right products at the right price, getting them on shelf efficiently, then having hoards of consumers buy them at full price.

Stock of products which don’t sell are a major problem, they need marking down, which kills margin, the stock ties up cash, and warehouse space, which in turn reduces stockholding / cash to buy more of the top performing products.

One of the most critical measures in retail is the measure of how many days stock on hand the retailer is holding.

And so frankly, these factors do not combine to encourage retailers to take risks, to over support new untested products and to back out there innovations. Everything about retail encourages risk averse buying.

So known Brands, with a massive Entertainment footprint, or massive brand awareness, are favoured because they are a known quantity, and are much more likely to move product off shelves. They don’t entail huge risks for retailers, often sequels or brands with ongoing longevity are the easiest option.

So for those of us in Licensing, we can rest assured that retail will always want Brands which are hugely popular, tried and tested and have an existing retail sell through record which is encouraging.

How Digital Brands Have Changed Toy Licensing

Posted in Uncategorized on 03 January 2013

New Media Paradigms Creating Digital Brands & The Effect On Toy Licensing

The past couple of years have seen some amazing changes in the way Brands are launched, built and Licensed.

For sure the nuts and bolts of how we do Licensing deals may appear to be pretty much the same, but actually there has been a really seismic shift in some regards.

In previous years, Entertainment Brands which generated the best selling Toys were pretty much all originated via either massive blockbuster Movie events & subsequent Video/DVD release, the often more relentless effect of TV programming placed on strong channels, perennial classic Brands or occasionally book publishing.

And this relatively narrow selection of media from which top selling Toy Brands emerged tipped the balance of power in the favour of the Entertainment Brand owners, because while there is no shortage of TV content and Movie concepts, there are only so many Triple AAA budgets, and only so many slots during Kids TV programming hours on the TV channels with the greatest reach.

In effect, there were fewer launch pads for premium Brands with propensity to drive massive sales of Toy products.

Fast forward to today, and in effect the proliferation of different and more actively engaging media has had a profound and lasting impact on the Toy Licensing business.

The two most notable and evidential examples are Moshi Monsters and Monster High from Mattel. Moshi Monsters has driven a hugely successful Toy (and other products!) line, driven by active engagement and participation in a virtual online world by the target market i.e. kids. And behind Moshi Monsters is a whole raft of up and comers which will perpetuate this media as a launch pad for Toyetic Brands. More’s the point however, due to the nature of the experience with a virtual world, the universe of ‘registered users’ and those at least aware of the Brand grows and grows, combining this general mass following with an ardent, if somewhat transient hard core of massively engaged Brand devotees appears (at this point at least) to suggest greater longevity than many other hit Toy Brands.

While it is not unheard of for Toy companies to create or license the creation of their own Entertainment content (Transformers would be a particularly impressive example), it has been significantly less common for Toy companies to use different media to create their own massively successful Toy Brands, but Mattel have done just that with Monster High – and even more impressively, they have managed to create a Top 10 Toy Brand out of a Category (Fashion Dolls) where they already have the Number 1 (Barbie), with no apparent or reported cannibalisation. Frankly, in our opinion that is just sheer Brand building brilliance.

Moving on from ‘online’ Brands, we can see a number of App Brands with massive global following now driving very significant Toy sales. Angry Birds clearly leads this field, but there are many other really strong established Brands on the App store with tens or even hundreds of millions of downloads. If we compare this with a satellite/cable driven TV show getting 200,000 viewers per airing in the UK if it’s successful, clearly we can see that the App store is a massively under utilised source of well known mass Brands, some of which are already proven to drive Toy sales.

So clearly Brands which drive Toy sales are at least partly coming from different places today, broadening the options for potential Licensees, and challenging the status quo in a particularly disruptive fashion.

For sure, Movies and TV programming will continue to drive Toy sales, and long may that continue, but a significant new slice of the pie has emerged in the last few years. This has tilted the balance of power back towards the Toy companies (as they have a wider selection of Brands to choose from now), but this slice of the pie has of yet been massively under exploited, and is a long way from maturity.

The nuts and bolts of Licensing may not have changed that much (albeit we use different milestones to trigger MG payments i.e. total downloads/registered users versus number of TV episodes aired), but in actual fact there has been a seismic shift in terms of the universe of hot Brands available and the media they originate from.

And for those who see this as a progression from the scraps of Licensing revenue derived from video games decades back, that’s a little like comparing a single raindrop with a tsunami, while both can be classified as ‘water’, they are hardly the same thing…and therein lies the difference.

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How To Create Toyetic Entertainment Properties & Licensing Programs

Posted in Uncategorized on 14 December 2012

5 Top Tips For Creating Toyetic Entertainment Properties

There is a perception among some Entertainment companies that compelling Kids entertainment equates to Toyetic appeal, and should therefore lead to massive Licensing revenues.

Alas, although that’s part of the formula, it’s not quite that simple…

Here’s our 5 top tips:

1. Create an entertaining, immersive and compelling Entertainment experience – so yes, this is a critical part of the formula. You need to deliver entertainment or you have nothing, but that is merely the foundation. While your Creative Director may feel orgasmic about his creation/creations, the reality is that his award winning, highly entertaining masterpiece is just the start point!

2. Ensure maximum number of Kids are exposed to your property – clearly we’re starting with the most obvious ones first, nevertheless though, if you have a brilliant property but millions of Kids aren’t being regularly exposed to it, and feeling the full strength of what your Brand has to offer, you aren’t going to be able to create much in the way of Toy Licensing revenue!

3. Create distinctive, protectable Toyetic characters – this is the most obvious point to me, but seemingly not to some Branded Entertainment companies. Creating a property around a generic looking set of characters, when just a little forethought could create a unique character universe is a surefire path to not being able to generate much by way of Toy Licensing revenue!

As an example, we once ran Qualitative Focus Groups for a leading Toy company, who were testing a License which they were considering for Master Toy rights. The Toy company had literally £millions at stake, because it’s not just their minimum guarantee committments – it’s R&D investment and resources, oppotunity cost, marketing spend and inventory investment that’s at stake. The property they were reviewing was based around a collection of very generic animals, which could have been easily confused for hundreds of existing low price, white label plush Toys already in the market place. So frankly, the chances of avoiding knock offs and achieving on shelf standout / perceived premium value were limited.

There’s a reason why characters on successful Toy Licenses have quirky and distinctive features!

If you have a property based on cars, your cars need to be different from every other car out there, if you feature monsters they need to be distinctly different, fish, real people, mythical beasts – whatever, just make them distinctive and uniquely yours!

4. Cover more / all Toy categories – for those seeking to create strong Toyetic appeal and to drive significant Licensing revenue from Toys, this becomes critical. For instance, a particular ‘bug bear’ of ours is the absence of any vehicles in an Entertainment property. This category makes up a significant portion of the Toy business, it works at low pocket money price points, as well as driving significant sales at high end price points. Furthermore, there are comparatively large Toy companies who focus on this kind of Toy alone.

Clearly including vehicles needs to make sense based on the back story, and of the vehicles fitting the setting, but to not include vehicles where they could be included takes a meaty chunk out of your opportunity. So for instance, if you have a Robin Hood style Toy, you can’t include tanks or planes, but you could still include stage coaches. For a futuristic setting, maybe you wouldn’t include a common or garden bicycle, but you’d be remiss not feature some really cool air/space craft surely…?

5. Position yourself against what’s come before you – there is only so much new under the sun. You might be the 1 in 100 who has managed to create something truly original and unique, but more likely you have created something in an existing genre, or with strong similiarities to previous properties. If you ignore this fact and claim to be unique when you are not, your potential Licensees, their retailers and the consumer will make those comparisons anyway. So create a clear and distinctive positioning i.e. if you’re doing Fairy tales, that area has been done ad infinitum…so do it with a twist i.e. futuristic setting, flip a standard part of the setting etc. Just make sure you standout from the crowd, and aren’t perceived as just me too…

…me too doesn’t carry a premium!

So there you have it, 5 Top Tips on maximising Toyetic appeal in Entertainment Brands.

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5 Features Of Apps With Top Selling Merchandise

Posted in Uncategorized on 07 December 2012

Characteristics of Apps That Sell Merchandise!


You’d have to have been living under a rock to have missed the massive merchandising success of Angry Birds .

So does this mean you can stick out merchandise on any App and see it fly…? Alas no!

There are several fundamentals to consider:

1. Massive Metrics – if you just launched your App and have about 7 downloads, it clearly won’t be credible for merchandising! Even if you have a couple of hundred thousand it is unlikely to particularly influence anyone. You need to be talking about millions, and ideally tens of millions if not hundreds of millions. Clearly only so many achieve these metrics, but if you expect big merchandising success without millions of App downloads – sorry, but experience suggests you’re probably dreaming!

2.Strong Brand Identity – if you have millions of downloads of a very generic style App you will still struggle to find Licensees. The reason why Licensees pay to use Brands is because there is strong Brand awareness, which will help them sell more products. Without distrinctive and strong Brand identity you have next to no chance!

3. Characterisation – characterisation is critical in many Categories – not least of which would be Toys, Gaming & Publishing, which drive a large %age of the Licensing opportunity. So in the same way as you need a strong Brand, you also need strong characters in order to translate your Brand from the digital world to the physical world.

4. Apps with existing Licensing Programs – the first person to License your Brand takes the most risk – their investment will either pay back, or prove to be wasted if your Brand does not translate into merchandise sales. But once you have your first Licensee on board, you instantly become a less risky proposition for other Licensees.

5. Cross-promotion – traditional media companies would kill (metaphorically, not actually we hope!) for access to the Marketing opportunity offered by massively downloaded Apps. How can you cross promote merchandise within the App experience? Not sure? Well you need to figure it out, as this will make your Brand substantially more attractive as a commercial opportunity!

For sure there are other factors, but consider these carefully before investing time, effort and money in a Brand Licensing program.

If you feel your App Brand meets all 5 factors, or if you want to find App Brands which do, feel free to drop us a line!


Here’s a Q&A session with Simon Kay of At New Media:


VWL: What makes you think that there is a significant opportunity for merchandising from App Brands?



VWL: Why will manufacturers & publishers be missing out if they don’t feature App originated Brands in their License portfolio?



VWL: What extra opportunities come with App Brands that perhaps aren’t there with other media?



VWL: How many App Brands are out there with significant enough presence & following to drive significant merchandising sales?



VWL: Which Product Categories do App Brands most closely fit with?




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