Starting now, Mattel (MAT) is offering a premium subscription option to its phenomenally popular Barbie Girls web-based virtual world. Since beta launch April 2007, it’s amassed a record-breaking 13 million registered users, with over 2.3 million of those monthly active users.
At $5.99 a month, the new “Barbie Girls V.I.P” account gives girls a wealth of additional perks for their avatars, like a virtual pet, exclusive access to a “Extreme DreamPark,” and, of course, “a special virtual tiara.” Which that means starting this week, millions of parents will face a uniquely 21st century dilemma: Should they pay $72 a year so their little girls can enjoy playing with Barbies that don’t, in the strictest sense, exist?
Mattel’s subscription plan is an aggressively priced alternative, and many will be watching to see if this name-brand toy company can attract a decent number of upgrades. That’s far from certain, for while millions of teens and adults happily pay $15 a month to play World of Warcraft, $5.99/month seems like a high price point for pre-teens. Then again, a Barbie 3-Story Dream House Playset will set parents back $275, so maybe they won’t mind paying a lot less for the virtual version.
Image credit: barbiegirls.com.