Nick splits games, virtual worlds

Promotions accompany division of unit

NEW YORK -- MTV Networks' Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group said Tuesday that it has formed separate divisions focused on gaming and virtual worlds and has promoted executives from within the Viacom-owned company to run the new groups.

Dave Williams will lead the Games Group and Kyra Reppen will head the Virtual Worlds Group; both will have the titles of senior vp and GM of their respective divisions. They will report to Steve Youngwood, executive vp digital media.

Williams, based in San Francisco, was senior vp and GM of MTVN's AddictingGames and Shockwave casual gaming sites. He will continue to manage those sites.

Reppen, based in Los Angeles, was vp and GM of and was, most recently, senior vp and GM of Nick's Neopets site. She will also continue to oversee Neopets.

The Games Group will be comprised of online, CD-ROM, handheld and console games and Shockwave and AddictingGames. The group will also look to develop retail games around shows like "SpongeBob SquarePants" and "iCarly."

In March, the company said that it would add 1,600 new games in 2008 to bring its total to more than 6,000 titles. This expansion is part of a $100 million investment in the casual gaming space.

The Virtual Worlds Group will encompass Neopets and virtual world Nicktropolis, which will expand to include a paid tier and a regionalized site in the U.K. The division will also oversee the company's recently announced projects, including a Neopets virtual world offshoot with the working title of World of Neopia, a virtual world based on "SpongeBob" and the original property Monkey World.

Nickelodeon said Neopets has a registered user base of 45 million.