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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A New Model for Free-to-Play Games Design

Our friends over at GamesBrief have been working on hard on creating a graphic to represent a new model for creating great free-to-play games. As free-to-play has turned games design on its head it’s no wonder that GamesBrief has opted to use a funnel to represent the business of free-to-play and a pyramid to represent the game.

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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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The ten best social gaming articles of 2013

Minecraft, Clash of Clans, Candy Crush and the mess at Zynga…these were only four of the many topics we covered in our This Week in Casual Games (TWICG) newsletter this year. Twice a year we review TWICG and pick the ten most read articles of the year (twice!). If you’ve not signed-up for TWICG yet, click here and get the week’s most insightful casual game articles sent to your inbox in one handy weekly email.

Here are ten stories that our readers have clicked on more than any other, so far this year.

Why Candy Crush is so addictive 

Because it’s awesome, right? That’s the simple answer, but we don’t do simple here, we want to know what makes Candy Crush the most addictive and highest grossing game on the app stores. Thankfully Michail Katkoff has written this thorough post that details the mechanics, virality and monetization techniques that have made CCS a smash hit.
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Free-to-Play: making money from games you give away

Will Luton is a free-to-play consultant and the author of Free-to-Play: Making Money From Games You Give Away. Covering economics, gameplay, monetization, analytics and marketing it’s a great guide to the business model that’s changing gaming.

We took some time to talk with Luton about his book and his advice on making the most of free-to-play.

Is there a game that isn’t free-to-play that you think should have been, and how would it have been changed? 

I think Ridiculous Fishing by Vlambeer is an almost perfect F2P game, except that it’s paid and features no IAPs. It uses great goal system in collecting fish, a lot like Pokémon, to draw the player through the game, but that’s complimented by a brilliantly balanced virtual currency and items that create a good sense of progression.

The only changes I would have made are making it near endless by constantly adding new fish, locations and items, plus some infinite resource sink. Possibly some light social elements too using the in-game social network Byrdr and making it free and adding IAPs for virtual currency, of course.

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Ten reasons why Candy Crush Saga became a hit!

In May 15m people were playing Candy Crush Saga (CCS) every day on Facebook, it’s topped both the Google Play and App Store charts, and is currently number one on the iOS Top Grossing chart. But CCS isn’t the only match-three game out there, so why has it done so well?

1. TV advertising

Mind Candy, creators of Moshi Monsters, declared TV advertising their secret weapon. We’ve run several TV campaigns for games and every time the acquisition costs (CPA) have been fantastic. More games should follow CCS and advertise on TV.

CCS have done a remarkable job with their UK campaign, their adverts are well placed; being mass market (advertising on prime-time UK TV around shows like Coronation Street) they nail the target market perfectly. CCS even appeared in PSY’s follow up to ‘Gangnam Style’, ‘Gentleman’. it’s rumoured that King paid $1m for the Candy Crush placement which gives us an idea of the kind of marketing budget King are playing with.

Industry insiders have also suggested that the CCS adverts aren’t there to just drive play but to make the game more of a house-hold name as King seeks to monetize away from the digital product (licensing). 
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