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

Matthew Warneford

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.

Even though games metrics can show you why players are leaving your online world and what they’re spending most of their virtual currency on it’s how smart you are at implementing the insight that makes the difference. During his keynote at the 2012 Children’s Media Conference, Club Penguin co-founder Lane Merrifield spoke of how his team used a simple box to survey their players. The Club Penguin team started by placing a crate in the middle of one of their in-game dojos (where penguins learn martial arts), nothing was said about it, it was just left there. In no time at all the Club Penguin community was buzzing with rumours about what could be in the crate as players listed what they thought was in it and what they hoped it would reveal. The Club Penguin team used this insight to decide what would be inside the crate, maximising their chance of pleasing their community.

Companies are taking a similar approach in the real world. In October last year Mind Candy announced that they would be launching a new girl’s brand based on their Poppet character. Commenting on the launch Darran Garnham, chief business development officer at Mind Candy said: “Poppet is extremely popular with our girl fan base, and following their feedback, we decided to make her a hero character.” Poppet would go on to star in her own app, feature in the Moshi Monsters magazine and appear across licensed products for Accessorize and Claire’s Accessories.

Mind Candy knew they had a hit character on their hands. Their data showed that Poppet was the most popular Moshi Monster with girls and had been adopted over 16 million times. It’s this kind of data that licensees and retails love!

Aside from Poppet, Mind Candy can also tap into their Moshi Monsters game to inform their other media products such as their magazine (the most popular children’s magazine) and music releases (their Music Rox! album peaked at number four in the UK album chart). Before the end of the year there will also be a Moshi Monsters movie (you can see the trailer at the bottom of this post)!

We’ve been talking about the trend for using online as a testing bed for new IPs for a few years now, and in 2011 Toy News ran an article by me on the online toy revolution. We also wrote a feature for Kidscreen on how to de-risk IP development through games and research; you can read that on our blog.

If you’re interested in how digital can help you develop your IP then get in touch.

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