How will you ever tell your little girl that her friend Jane is a special VIP in Barbie Girls Online, but you won't even give her a dented copper tiara? Jane's tiara is made of diamonds, platinum and unicorn hair! Your daughter: No tiara. You: resented in real life. But you're a good mommy or daddy, and you'll buy your little girl her VIP membership and her tiara will be gold, with rubies, because you love her just that much. Welcome to the wonderful world of getting to your wallet through your children.
It's not entirely new; Kid-oriented web sites such as Webkinz and Neopets have offered dolls with codes for use on their website for some years now, but they were real dolls, and the special perks on the website were theirs forever. They had something to keep when the computer was off. Now, your daughter's tenuous reign as VIP lasts only so long as you keep paying for a VIP membership. (Barbie Girls Online also requires a Barbie-shaped dongle/MP3 player to be plugged into the computer for full access but is not required for most of the site).