How Moshi Monsters Used Games as a Launch Pad to Dominate Kid’s Entertainment

Earlier this year Mind Candy founder Michael Acton Smith declared: “Everything we do will be about family entertainment and will always start on tablet. If it’s successful on tablets, then we will make the bigger bounce into toys, cartoons, films and everything else. [Tablets and smartphones] are where children are spending time, so that’s where we’ve got to go.”

Mind Candy is synonymous with kids online games as well as toys, with Moshi Monsters being the number one toy property by value (according to 2013 NPD data). But, as Acton Smith has stated, despite their success with toys, any new IP will start life as a game – allowing them to test the brand, make quick changes figure out what works before expanding the brand on other platforms, whether that’s toys, books or movies. Much is written about how metrics can help improve a game, but in Mind Candy’s case they can inform way beyond that.

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Children’s Magazines are Bucking the Trend

At a time when kids have access to more digital devices that ever before it’s good to see in that children’s magazines are doing great business – compared to the same period five years ago circulation has increased by a 29%!  The numbers look even better when put up against an ever declining “men’s lifestyle” magazines. Even women’s weeklies have seen sales fall.

These numbers come from the latest release of the audited circulation figures for consumer magazines (January-June 2013), which reveals sales of more than 2 million copies of children’s magazines and comics and an increase of 1.5% period-on-period.
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Which online games are 11-16 year-olds playing?

When we cover children’s online gaming we focus on games played by the under-12s But with so many children over 12 years-of-age still playing browser-based games it’s about time we posted on this age group too.

The slides below are from a survey of 732 children and highlight that while some children’s games suffer a significant drop-off as kids reach their teens it’s not bad news for all; some games, like Runescape and Lord of the Rings Online attract more users as kids get older.
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Key metrics from the biggest kids’ digital games

Last year we posted our social gaming glossary – a list of 13 terms and eight benchmarks that everyone working in online games should know. Now we’re adding context to this list by uncovering the key metrics from the biggest games on mobile and online. Want to know the Average Revenue Per User for Habbo? What about GREE’s Customer Acquisition Cost? Then read on.

Average Revenue per Paying User (ARPPU)

Definition: Average Revenue Per Paying User, usually measured each month. In other words, how much money does the average customer spend (most of your players will never spend any money, ARPPU only includes those who spend money). It can be calculated as total monthly revenue divided by total monthly paying users.


World ARPPU Age Range Source
Cafe fever $3.57 NA Inside Mobile Apps, August 24th, 2011
Street Wars $13 NA Social Times, November 11th, 2010
Puzzle Pirates $50 (per month) NA Gamasutra, June 9th, 2009
Habbo $29.53 (annual) Teens Paid Content, January 5th, 2011
Panfu $10 6-13 ICO Partners, January 29th, 2010
Club Penguin $5 6-14 Ivan Walsh, September 18th, 2009

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Kids demand toys based on virtual worlds

During a recent look back over our projects we found this piece looking at the demand for toys based on kid’s virtual worlds like Moshi Monsters, Bin Weevils and Club Penguin.

We conducted this study as toys based on kid’s virtual worlds are huge! You only have to look at look at the best selling toys during Christmas 2011 to see that. But how big are they and what could be the next big game-to-toy licence?
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More than half of UK children own a toy based on a virtual world

Children’s virtual worlds – like Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin – aren’t just popular online; they’re also proving a big hit as toys with new research showing over half of UK children own a toy based on a virtual world with some as  popular as Dr Who.

Dubit’s research department recently studied the popularity of toys based on online worlds, looking at Disney’s Club Penguin, Mind Candy’s Moshi Monsters, as well as Build-a-BearVille, Poptropica and Webkinz.

The study of 500 kids showed that an amazing 55 per cent of children owned a toy from at least one of these games. The most popular was Disney’s Club Penguin, with 32 per cent of children owning a branded toy from the online world. Club Penguin, which has 150 million registered users (globally) launched in 2005 and has spawned a series of books and video games. Each toy is connected to the virtual world as they’re packaged with a code that allows items to be unlocked in the virtual world.
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Ten things you didn’t know about Moshi Monsters

Since beginning in 2007 Moshi Monsters has risen to become an online game and children’s social network with over 50 million members worldwide. There is a good chance that if you have children they probably have a Moshi of their own, as half of the country’s six to twelve year-olds are members.

As Moshi Monsters gets tipped to become one of the must have toys for Christmas 2011 we present you with ten things you probably didn’t know about the Moshi phenomen.

Before it went social Moshi Monsters was facing bankruptcy

Mind Candy, the company behind Moshi Monsters, hasn’t always had it so good.  Speaking to The Independent, Mind Candy CEO, Michael Acton Smith said: “The real tipping point came in 2009 when we allowed kids to connect with each other and gave them a forum to discuss things. Until then, it had been a solo experience and we were on the edge of bankruptcy. It was when we added the social element that membership really took off.”

Education was the focus

When the game was built in 2007 the focus was on educating children. Acton Smith claims that teachers and parents loved it but kids just rolled their eyes.
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How many friends does a Moshi Monsters player invite? And what is Moshi Monsters’ viral growth?

Way back in 2010, as Moshi Monsters signed up their 30 millionth user, Michael Acton Smith (Moshi CEO) presented a breakdown of registered users by marketing channel.

There’s a couple of interesting snippets from Acton Smith’s presentation, I want to focus on two of them:

  • The power of TV advertising
  • Moshi Monsters viral growth

If you’re in a rush, scroll down the post to see Acton Smith’s presentation slides.

The Power of TV

For a long time online kids games and virtual worlds have left TV advertising well alone; it’s expensive, can’t be tracked, poor conversion, and all the other reasons (or if you prefer, old wives tales).

Those myths are just not true any more. At GDC 2010, Acton Smith revealed that Moshi Monsters’ targeted TV campaigns have been one their most cost effective marketing channels. And it isn’t just true for Moshi Monsters, we’ve seen very similar results with the campaigns we’ve run for our clients.
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What do the top 20 virtual worlds have in common? And what can you learn from them?

100% of the top 20 virtual worlds have some form of chat, achievements, and virtual currency. Nearly half (45%) have pets, over 4/5′s have user home rooms, but only 18% integrate with social networks.

How do we know this? We meticulously studied and catalogued every single feature in each of the top 20 virtual worlds, including Club Penguin, Moshi Monsters, Chimpoo, Poptropica, Barbie Girls, WeeWorld, Build-A-Bearville, Bin Weevils, and Hello Kitty Online. If you’re thinking this sounds boring and tedious, you’d be right! But the good news is we’ve shared the results, so you don’t need to.

We collected all this data to help us, and the folks building on our virtual world platform make better design decisions. Designing games for children is really hard! I’m pretty sure everyone reading this is way past their “kid-time” (like bed time, but past the time you stopped being a kid). So if we’re not kids any more, how do we know what kids find fun? What do children want? Should your players have a pet to care for? How important is chat? What about forums? Should there be a story?
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