SEE Virtual Worlds and the Michael Jackson Estate announced Planet Michael, a virtual world based on the late pop star and "the global issues that concerned him", which will launch next year.
Planet Michael will provide a massively multiplayer online setting themed after visuals drawn from Michael Jackson's music and life. The virtual space will feature "continents" designed to celebrate the King of Pop while allowing fans to connect with each other and join in collaborative in-game activities.
The online world will serve as the first out of a "virtual reality universe of connected planets", each planet tied to licensed film, TV, sports, and music franchises produced by SEE. The firm hasn't yet identified those franchises, but it's previously worked with major brands like Star Trek and Titanic.
SEE will build Planet Michael and future planets with MindArk's Entropia Universe platform. Though Planet Michael will be free-to-play, it will feature a real cash economy allowing users to earn money by taking on "dozens of different occupations" and to buy digital items (or contribute to a charitable cause).
This isn't the first time Michael Jackson has appeared in a video game -- along with his roles in titles like Moonwalker and Space Channel 5, he's the star of Ubisoft's upcoming Michael Jackson: The Experience music games for Xbox 360, PS3, PSP, Wii, and Nintendo DS.
"When we first approached the Estate and talked about creating Planet Michael, one of our primary goals was to build an interactive environment where fans from all over the world come together to affirm Michael's life-long dedication to fostering global friendships," says SEE Virtual Worlds CEO Martin Biallas.
He adds, "In building a space worthy of those global connections, we envisioned a magical, enjoyable place that will capture that zest for fun and life that was at Michael's very core. Throughout his extensive career, the King of Pop was well-known for his visionary contributions to music, dance, fashion, entertainment and philanthropy, and it was critical that we somehow incorporate all of those elements into the game."