Yes, all MMOs have avatars in them, and Xbox 360 will now have avatars in it, too. But the MMO that Nickelodeon is unveiling this September is about the pseudo-anime TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender. I guess I'm not up on what the kiddoes like these days, because I thought the Avatar craze was kind of over, but Nickelodeon says its recently-wrapped Season 3 finale was its highest-rated TV show ever. M. Night Shyamalan is even making a live-action movie called "The Last Airbender" based on the series, to debut in July 2010. With Avatar interest at an all-time high, Nickelodeon seems to have decided the time was right to make an MMO that serves as a "prequel" to the TV series. Regardless of how you feel about Nickelodeon cartoons, this is actually an immensely cool idea — when Nickelodeon re-airs episodes of Season 3 in the fall, fans tuning in will get episode-specific hints from the TV show about unlocking things in-game. Having a multiplayer online game that runs concurrent with a TV experience is a great way to encourage players to be more involved with both game and show, I think. Full announcement follows the jump. By the way, which TV show would you most love to have a tie-in MMO going on with?
NICKELODEON UNVEILS NEW AVATAR MULTIPLAYER ONLINE GLOBAL GAME IN SEPTEMBER Gaming Event Continues Momentum Following Highest-Rated Series Performance Ever, the Avatar Season Three Finale NEW YORK–July 25, 2008–Fresh off of its highest-rated performance ever on TV, Nickelodeon will treat Avatar: The Last Airbender fans to a unique experience this September with a brand-new, multiplayer global online game. In the game, Avatar: Legends of the Arena, which will serve as a prequel story to the series, players can create their own Avatar character and test their skills against players from around the globe in several 3D online arenas. Each game level will introduce and unlock new content, challenges, custom character outfits and more on an ongoing basis. The global game will live on a dedicated website http://www.avatarlegends.com and the beta version of the game http://www.tinyurl.com/5j6j6j* will be unveiled at Comic-Con International in San Diego on July 25. "The launch of this multiplayer online game gives Avatar fans the opportunity to immerse themselves in the storylines during and beyond its tenure on-air," said Jason Root, Senior Vice President of Nick.com. "This property has always had a deep online connection with its audience and the game offers a natural extension of the franchise to keep fans engaged with the property indefinitely." The global gaming event, which represents Nick.com's (http://www.nick.com) first 3D multiplayer online role play game, will take place in 81 markets in ten languages, including: the United States; United Kingdom; Australia; New Zealand; India; Southeast Asia; Canada; Mexico; Argentina; Spain; Italy; France; Korea; Japan; Israel; Holland; Northern Belgium; Germany; Brazil; and Portugal. A total of 77 countries will launch the game on Sept. 15, with the remaining markets launching through the following months (non-domestic territories will vary). Each 3D online arena within the game will host battles featuring up to four players at a time, but combat isn't the only focus of the experience. Players will also be able to engage in role play, building their characters through training and arena duels. As players advance, they can upgrade their characters, unlock new bending moves, and acquire outfits and other exclusive equipment to make them the envy of others. The animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, has inspired M. Night Shyamalan's "The Last Airbender", a live-action epic adventure from Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies which will debut in domestic theaters July 2010. Series' creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko will serve as executive producers on the film. This fall, Nicktoons Network will serve as the on-air home for Avatar: The Last Airbender, and will feature a Sept. Avatar event and season three episodes of the series throughout Sept. and Oct. Additionally, Nicktoons will offer fans a chance to get in on the Avatar game, asking them to tune in on Fridays at 6:30 p.m. for episode-specific hints that will unlock exclusive content in Avatar: Legends of the Arena. Available on DVD July 29, Avatar: The Last Airbender - Book 3: Fire – Volume 4 features the kid hero's return to the Fire Nation to prepare for a final confrontation with Firelord Ozai. Fans will also have a chance to get their game on with Avatar The Last Airbender:Into the Inferno, a new action adventure video game from THQ, in stores this fall. Launched in February 2005 on Nickelodeon in the US, the epic story of Avatar: The Last Airbender follows the journey of Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen), a 12-year-old boy torn between fulfilling his fate as the long-awaited Avatar and just wanting to be a regular kid. The Avatar season three finale, Sozin's Comet, recently earned the series its highest ratings ever. The previous week's season three new premiere episodes reached a total of 19 million total viewers (P2+). Avatar is a top ranked show on Nickelodeon's international channels, and is number one on Nick in Holland and Germany. DiMartino and Konietzko serve as executive producers of Avatar: The Last Airbender. DiMartino is an award-winning filmmaker and has worked on the prime-time animated series King of the Hill, Family Guy and Mission Hill. Konietzko was a character designer for Family Guy, assistant director on Mission Hill and King of the Hill and a storyboard artist and art director for Nickelodeon's Invader Zim. About Nickelodeon Nickelodeon, now in its 29th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in more than 96 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 14 consecutive years. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B).