Despite a year that saw it incur financial losses, less-than-stellar subscription uptake for its flagship MMO Age of Conan, plus layoffs and a delay for its next major title, The Secret World, Funcom has announced that it's launching a subsidiary called SweetRobot to publish family/kid-friendly MMOs. "Our passion and dedication for high-end online games remains the same, and Age of Conan and The Secret World are still our primary focus," company CEO Trond Arne Aas said in today's announcement. "But we are also eager to explore new opportunities within the industry, and it felt natural for us to step into the social gaming segment especially considering our outstanding experience with making online worlds and communities."

SweetRobot's first title, the free-to-play Pets vs. Monsters, has yet to be stamped with a release date, will be entering beta soon. Aas feels that "the fact that these productions require significantly lower budgets and smaller teams to develop" makes games like it attractive, since "it allows us to try out several concepts instead of placing all our resources into one single bet."

It also lets Funcom, er, SweetRobot do things like make a game that looks sort of like Diablo, only with robot frogs and trees covered in snot. Hey, it's what the focus groups said the kids want!

This article was originally published on Joystiq.