Petz games are by the "hardcore" blog-reading crowd, kids apparently eat them up (the games, not pets). They're so important that, according to Ubisoft's Benoit Galarneau, the company's Montreal studio (Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Assassin's Creed) is handling development of the latest Wii game in the series, Dogz 2008. "We did this one internally," Galarneau said, "because we feel that as the casual market is growing, we feel that our Petz line will explode, and we need to raise the quality of the game to make sure that no competitor will steal our position as pet people."
This interview is actually the most we've heard Ubisoft open up about this type of game. Galarneau discusses the differences in regional markets, in-game advertising, and failure states in casual games. But the really interesting part comes at the end, when the subject of the Z came up. Ubisoft inherited the "Petz" naming convention from the original PF Magic-developed series, and kept it. Now the company sees it as kind of an identifying trademark. "But one thing we have to make sure of is that people understand that the one with the "z" is the one we're pushing. It's not just "Pets" or "Dogs", as any dog or any pet. It's Petz. My team would say "Dog Z" most of the time."
When told by Gamasutra's Brandon Sheffield that "Dog Z" sounds like a specific dog, Galarneau said "There will be Dog Z in the game, in fact."