Disney delays 'Pirates' MMO game

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Disney has officially moved the launch date for its massively mutliplayer online game "Pirates of the Caribbean Online" from summer to fall.

The MMO, which is based on the popular amusement park ride and film franchise and has been in beta testing for the last several months, was originally scheduled to be ready closer to the theatrical release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." (HR 5/29)

In a statement, Disney Online cited the need for additional development time as reason for the delay.

"After a careful internal assessment of the state of game development as well as a review of external feedback, we have elected to spend additional development time," the company said Friday. "We will use this extra time to further enhance the game, respond to additional data we've collected during beta testing and incorporate more of the input we have gathered."

The MMO, which is designed as a computer game set in a virtual world, is an important one for Disney because it is deliberately geared toward a nontraditional gaming audience. While it incorporates a multitude of community features and will provide a wealth of demographic information about its users, it is also Disney's largest effort thus far to create a virtual world experience as an extension of a Disney franchise.

While the game is subscription-based, participants can play it a third of the way through without subscribing, although they will be subjected to ads.

Disney Online said it planned to conclude the game's first beta phase by July 1 and its second phase in December, and plans to keep interest in the game through various community outreach efforts on the site.
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