Ty -- the company behind Beanie Babies -- has teamed up with Animax to take on Webkinz with a somewhat similar online service called Beanie Babies 2.0. Unlike Webkinz, the different levels of service will only unlock when children buy new real-world Beanie Babies. The toys ship with some sort of registration code that will progress the account to the next level when entered at the Beanie Babies 2.0 website.
Usually we're glad to see virtual worlds and online games adopted by the culture at large, but we're not so crazy for this one. It looks less like a meaningful experience for kids than it looks like a sneaky attempt to use technology to sell more Beanie Babies. Sure, Ty is a business, and it needs to profit. But we're more quick to admire businesses that try to do something constructive with their products as well -- like Fluid Entertainment and its environment-friendly kids' game. At the very least, the game should be fun on its own, right?
Beanie Babies 2.0 has no such aspirations. The New York Times thought it fitting to call it "Catalog 2.0."