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On top of the world at Google App Summit

This year’s Google App Summit in in Dublin, had numerous of sessions relevant for game developers. Chief Marketing Officer, Jan Møller attended to the summit and brought back most interesting news on the Apps and VR future.

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If you thought that VR and AR was a one hit wonder you were wrong. The new initiative from Google on DayDream and Tango prepared phones adds a totally new dimension to the field of an instant scanning of the surrounding, reskin the real world in VR or AR. It gives unlimited possibilities to bring virtual world to the real world. Sky is not the limit any longer, when future games are developed using these technologies.

According to Google the future of search engines is speech and customization. In the future your search engine is your Ultimate Personal Assistant. Already now search by speech in general is growing, error margins are low and better better engines decoding natural sentences are developing. When working with kids in their pre-reading and pre-writing phase, this will bring using the search functions further down in age and will open up new options for social game developers.


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Working with gaming in Copenhagen

There is something very unique about working with gaming in Copenhagen. Not only has Denmark been declared the planet’s happiest country but we also have the best combination of interesting jobs and a life to write home about.

What is different about being a game developer in Copenhagen than somewhere else in the world? Technically it can be more or less the same, but the difference is in the culture at the workplace and outside of the work.
By joining the games industry in Copenhagen you’ll become a part of a booming industry filled with great ambition, that is very open and where people like collaboration in positive manner. Here you are given space to pursue your small hopes and big dreams.

You’ll be living in the most liveable city of the world and you have enough spare time to enjoy it. Your new home country is world’s happiest country and second safest country.
In Copenhagen we have it all: beaches and bars, calmness and culture, fun and festivals and just about everything else you might enjoy.
Moving to Copenhagen requires some guts, but don’t worry, tens of thousands have done it before you, and very few of them regret it.

Consider yourself invited.


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Meeting future game developers

On September 21. – 23. our Lead Programmer, Dagbjört Jónsdóttir, participated in DADIU, as an Industry Specialist.

DADIU is The National Academy of Digital, Interactive Entertainment that educates future game developers. The students participating in DADIU come from art schools and universities in all of Denmark.

During the three days, Dagbjört had half a day sessions with each of the six DADIU teams. Each team presented a game they had developed in five days, based on a children’s book. Dagbjört sat down with the programmers and gave good advice on how the inner structures could be improved for better collaboration and continuous agile development.

At the end of each session, the teams got the opportunity to pepper her with questions about working on a real live game.  Dagbjört, of course, used the opportunity to evangelize about how amazing it must be to get to make a game that 11 million kids love, like MovieStarPlanet.

All in all, Dagbjört had a lot of good and inspiring talks about being a programmer, making games and loving every minute of it.


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Kulturnatten 2016

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Here at MovieStarPlanet HQ in Copenhagen, we love inviting our users over to the office for special events.

Last Friday, we opened our office for Kulturnatten (“Culture Night”), annual cultural event where organizations around Copenhagen open up for public hosting entertainment and adventures for both kids and adults.

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At MovieStarPlanet the Kulturnatten crowd were given an opportunity for an introductory tour to gaming studio and to join a workshop hosted by our developers and content artists.

Over 50 kids participated to the workshops throughout the evening. They seemed truly thrilled seeing where the hugely popular game is made and trying their own skills in coding and content creation.

In addition to the workshops, our safety and marketing teams had a blast showing their work to the users and their parents, and the whole MovieStarPlanet crew had great fun organizing the event.

We are very inspired by the participants and their enthusiasm towards our games and we are already planning next events.

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Summer Competition on MovieStarPlanet

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Summer has been upon us, and we know it is a time where all our movie stars enjoy being off from school spending time with their friends, families, and of course on MovieStarPlanet. We were curious about what they were doing in their summer vacation so we asked them to send us a summer greeting. It could be a postcard, a drawing, a letter, the sky was the limit. But it could not be digital.

It was with great anxiety and excitement we launched this analogue competition in a digital world to a digital generation. We therefore decided to increase the stakes and draw a winner from each country every week of a 1 month STAR VIP membership. At the end of the competition we would draw a winner from each country of a 1 year STAR VIP membership.

However, all concerns were put to shame – kids still know how to make amazing drawings, write beautiful letters, and express themselves in long sentences and not just through smileys and abbreviations.
We were simply BLOWN AWAY by the creativity of our movie stars.
And how many letters did we receive?
1.971 Letters!!!!

The country sending the most contributions was France with a stunning 682 letters.
France was followed by Poland and then US, UK, Holland and Germany as the top 6 countries.
During the competition we posted videos and photos of how the boxes of letters grew on Social Media, and we announced the winners on each MovieStarPlanet domain. It created an excitement on the domains and in the office throughout the summer.

So what do you do with 1.971 letters and drawings? You use them as office decoration!

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Optimizing RoboBlastPlanet with Intel

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During this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Intel was holding optimization sessions for mobile games. This was a lucky coincidence since our Principal Programmer, Javier Abud Chavez, was attending to the conference to talk to a number of our technology partners. We jumped on the chance to have our games inspected by experts from Intel and expanded our knowledge base by learning some lesser known optimization techniques that Intel recommended we do.

Thanks to this, RoboBlastPlanet spent an entire release doing optimizations with the result being a more stable and faster performing product, which in turn translates to a more responsive and improved experience for our users.

We finally teamed up with Intel to write an article about what we optimized and how we did it. This article can be found in Gamasutra, under the title Optimizing RoboBlastPlanet with Intel GPA


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Growing strong

MovieStarPlanet achieves new record – 11 Million monthly active users!

One of our stated goals is to connect kids in the best social network. The team has worked hard to make this happen. 11 Million kids playing MovieStarPlanet per month proves that the hard work pays of.

We look forward to continuing to provide the world’s most inspiring social network for even larger group of kids.


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Brands Come Alive on MovieStarPlanet

To the MovieStarPlanet users’ delight, many exciting brands have been paying the MovieStarPlanet universe a visit during the spring. Not only have the users welcomed the sponsored characters with open arms, but the brand owners have been thrilled to see their characters come to live.

MovieStarPlanet users have had the chance to meet and mingle with lots of exciting brand ambassadors. Who wouldn’t want to meet Apple Blossom, the cute and bubbly apple girl, who helped to launch the oh so popular collectable toy series, Shopkins, in the Nordics? Or edgy and cool Mal from the Disney Channel hit series Descendants, who brought her unique styling tips to MovieStarPlanet? Thousands of MovieStarPlanet users befriend the characters with open arms and eagerly participated in fun competitions and gained well-loved branded virtual gift items in the process.

Integrating a brand in the MovieStarPlanet universe, in the form of a sponsored character, gives the brand owners a unique opportunity to bring their brand to life in an environment the kids love and feel comfortable in. A great example of a brand who has done just that is Libresse, who by sponsoring a big sister like character Liz, has taken on the challenge to educate the MovieStarPlanet girls on a topic that can sometimes seem a little awkward to a tween girl.

Being an integrated part of a kids’ universe is proving to be a win-win situation for many brands – the users can be excited about making cool new friends and learning more about them, while the brands can grow their reach to include passionate and creative MovieStarPlanet users.


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Keeping a Close Eye on New European Data Protection Regulation

MovieStarPlanet has vast experience working with children’s data privacy regulations through having been certified as COPPA compliant by TRUSTe in the United States. We are following the European development carefully and preparing for appropriate course of action, once EU Member States have reached their decision on age threshold.

MovieStarPlanet have been closely following developments in relation to the reform of the EU Data Protection Regulation and how this will affect the service we provide to children in terms of online privacy and data protection.

In December 2015, The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached agreement on the new data protection rules. This will establish a modern and harmonised data protection framework across the EU. Each EU member state has to implement the new data protection rules by May 2018.

In terms of the rules that will affect children and their use of social networking sites, there are significant changes that member states have to legislate for. To comply with the New European Data Protection Regulation, MovieStarPlanet is reviewing its current data collection processes. Consent for processing the data of a child must be given or authorised by the holder of the parental responsibility over the child. The age threshold is for Member States to define within a range of 13 to 16 years’.

The aim of this specific provision aims at protecting children from being pressured to share personal data without fully realising the consequences. It is impossible for online social networking services to make changes until each member state decides what age they will implement for when parental permission is required.

“We do not collect any personal information on our users unless it is absolutely necessary and any data that is collected is stored correctly and confidentially. We are awaiting the interpretation and implementation on the appropriate age for parental consent in relation to children accessing Social Networking Services. The European Data Protection Regulation has given an age range of 13 to 16 in which parental permission must be asked for when a child accesses online social networking services. Member states need to decide what the age will be before we can act on this.”, says Head of Safety, Vernon Jones.

MovieStarPlanet has experience in working with similar children’s privacy legislation through our operational site in the United States, where the COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) legislation has been enacted since 1998. MovieStarPlanet has been certified as being COPPA compliant by TRUSTe, who have been approved by the Federal Trade Commission as a COPPA Safe Harbour certification provider since 2001.


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At eyelevel with our users

Written by Pernille Lundgreen, Communication Manager, Symbion.

MovieStarPlanet: At eyelevel with our users

MovieStarPlanet was started in 2008 and today the platform is used by more than 10 million active user profiles per month and provides a double digit million profit. Their head office is at The Orbit, a part of Symbion, and we have asked CEO, Claus Lykke Jensen, some questions related to the startup of an entrepreneurial company.

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How did the idea to MovieStarPlanet start?
The idea started in 2008 based on a desire to develop learning games to children in the age 8-13 years with the purpose to increase their English skills. The idea was that children should be able to develop animated film in English; record lines in English and share the films with their friends afterwards. Slowly the focus shifted from learning to games and entertainment, after which the user reach and the revenue increased.
What is according to you the main reason that MovieStarPlanet has become such a success?
The success is quite clear our user focus and our constant ability to innovate and to deliver new features and content to the game. Each week we release a new theme and each month we release a number of new features which means that the universe of MovieStarPlanet frequently is renewed. Furthermore we ensure that we are at eye level with our users, the children between 8-13 years, and we often get visits from school-classes which we interviews in focus groups so that we are constantly aware what they think is working and where they think we can improve.

What makes your concept unique?
MovieStarPlanet provides, together with BonniePlanet and RoboBlastPlanet, the largest social network for children in the age of 8-13 years by offering digital entertainment, creativity, interaction and safety connected in one big social network. The children can play all three games and interact with their friends across the games. Thus, when one child plays RoboBlastPlanet he or she can chat with a friend playing MovieStarPlanet.
Your system is based on user participation. How did you reach the number of users necessary for the platform to function?
First of all our main focus has continually been to deliver a good product the kids would play. Furthermore perseverance, marketing and mouth-to-mouth has been a part in creating our user database with 10 million active user profiles per month in more than 16 countries.
What does the future offer? Have you got any side projects going on which you would like to share?
Our main focus is to be available where our users are. That means we have to be both at web, tablet, Smartphone etc. etc. We are also working getting our youngest games, BonniePlanet and RoboBlastPlanet to play a bigger part in our social network.

Can you give a good advice to startup companies?
My advice is to keep believe in the idea – even though it sometimes seems unmanageable. Most often it takes a lot longer than you think to start up a new company and therefore you have to keep fighting until it succeeds. Believe in it and work hard to make it succeeds.

See more here: www.symbion.dk