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 In-App Spending is Under Control

Earlier this month we published new research on children’s in-app purchasing habits. Despite fears that children are prone to excessive spending in mobile games our work has shown that parents have a greater hold on the virtual purse strings than many would believe.

The research shows that only 2% of kids have ever spent without their parent’s permission, and not one of the 500 kids surveyed had ever spent more than £10 on a single purchase. Furthermore, only 17% of children are ever allowed by parents to spend money in-game, and they rarely spend more than £2 in one go.
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Trends in Children’s Ownership of Gaming Devices

Children have been playing video games at home since the launch of the first games consoles in the 1970s, but with kids now having access to tablets, phones, PCs and consoles it’s never been easier for children to sit down and play a game.

But what does the future hold? As we can see in this report, produced in Q1 of this year, while children’s access to iPads has more than doubled, their access to traditional games consoles dropped by more than 20%. Access to PCs and laptops has also declined over the past two years but at a less alarming rate.
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Children’s Favourite Gaming Brands

Watch out Mario, the Angry Birds are after you! Or that’s what we would say if we could talk to portly plumber, as when we asked 500 children in the UK and America what their favourite video games were Mario only narrowly beat Angry Birds – if we only look at the stats for American children Mario actually comes second, if only by 1%.

Other titles that are chomping at the heels of Mario and Angry Birds include breakout success Minecraft and, rather worryingly, the violent (18 rated) war simulator Call of Duty. The reason we asked children what their favourite video games are (they could pick three) was because while it’s interesting to know sales figures it’s something special when kids say you’re their favourite – it’s these games that are ripe for licensing!

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Taking Heritage Brands Online

Over the course of the year we’ve been travelling across the UK and America presenting our work on how brand owners can take heritage IPs online and leverage the characters and stories they already own.

Since we took our work to the iKids conference in New York we’ve fine tuned the presentation and added more learnings and improved upon our adaptation model. We’ve now presented this work at the Children’s Media Conference in the UK and Digital Kids in San Francisco.

The focus of the presentation is our adaptation models and processes for evaluation the IPs and how they’re translated digitally. Our work also looks at children are consuming media and the brands they and their parents want brought back.

Our latest slides are available below and include extra insight from Brad Jashinksy, director of digital media t Summertime Entertainment – the team behind the forthcoming feature film Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. The virtual world of the film is being developed by our in-house development studio.

If you’d like to know more about the data behind the presentation, or would like help bringing your brand to life online, then get in touch!

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Learn how to take heritage brands online at CMC 2013

At the start of July our head of research will at the tenth annual Children’s Media Conference (CMC) presenting our research and processes for taking heritage brands online.

This year’s CMC takes place in Sheffield and is designed to look back, as much as it is to look forward, as it examines how children’s media has changed over the past ten years. So, it seemed like the perfect place to showcase our insight into how children and their parents want classic IPs brought into the digital age.

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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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How to make games kids love

In over a decade of designing virtual worlds and mobile games for kids games we’ve had our fair share of mistakes – in 2004 we didn’t believe anyone would ever pay for virtual goods, we were wrong! But we like to think we’ve learned from our mistakes over the years, and because we’re not very good at keeping secrets we’re sharing our five rules for kids’ games.

1. Create fans not addicts

Moshi ShopJust because 84 million people played FarmVille at its peak doesn’t mean that the game mechanics are appropriate for children. Facebook games often use the same tactics employed by casinos to keep players coming back time and time again. But ultimately we resent that which we’re addicted to – resentful customers are not a recipe for long term success!
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What parents think of fake toys

At the beginning of the year we teamed up with Toy News to investigate the counterfeit toy industry. Fake toys are a danger not just to children but they also have a huge impact on the entire toy industry, did you know up to one million Rubix Cubes are faked every year!

Forming part of the Fight the Fakes campaign we used our award-winning Clickroom focus group software to interview a group of parents on their attitude to, and experience of, fake toys.
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The ten best social gaming articles of 2012 – part 2

Amongst all the cat pictures and Gangnam Style tributes there’s a wealth of social gaming knowledge on the internet. For over two years we’ve been collating the best social gaming articles and publishing them in our This Week in Social Games (TWISG) newsletter. Read by over 1,000 subscribers.

With the year coming to an end it’s time to highlight the best of the best – the ten most insightful articles based on the percentage of clicks by our readers. From finding out what’s in Zynga’s ‘secret sauce’ to how to get your first 1,000 players, plus a handful of articles on making money by giving stuff away from free, it’s all here.

If that’s not enough, you can also read part one of this blog from back in June and get the twenty best social gaming features of 2012.

If you’re not signed up to TWISG yet, you can do that by clicking here.

So let’s begin with….

1. The secret sauce of social games

Reading this article from The Verge is the perfect way for anyone new to social games to become an instant expert! Featuring contributions from Zynga, Kixeye and Storm8 it looks at everything, such copycats, in-game spending, Whales, trends in game design and much, much more. Even if you think you already know it all, you will still find something new.
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