In one of the odder news items of the day, Michael Jackson's estate announced a brand new licensing deal with a Los Angeles virtual reality company to design and create a new online world based around the storied pop star's life. Entitled 'Planet Michael,' SEE Virtual Worlds are developing the alternate reality as an add-on for the Entropia Universe -- a multiplayer online game that carries nearly 100,000 active users on a daily basis.

Developers have pointed out that the world differs from popular violence-based online platforms such as 'World of Warcraft.' According to those involved, they are sticking to MJ's message of non-violence and racial harmony. Instead of fighting, users can complete goals for charity. Within 'Planet Michael,' fans will be able to collect and trade MJ merchandise and earn game credits by completing challenges that are modeled around the singer's iconic music and dance moves. The world is set to go online in late 2011.

"No artist unified the world like Michael Jackson, so it is fitting that in 'Planet Michael' his fans will be able to join together in such a unique way online," said John Branca, Jackson's longtime lawyer, in an interview.

While virtual worlds are still an emerging field, other artists such as Jay-Z have also begun to engage their large user base. Last year, Hov licensed his Rocawear clothing line for a game called WeeWorld that targets teenagers. The big question with 'Planet Michael' will be how much the younger demographic that spends time in virtual worlds will crossover with MJ's older fan base.

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