《Moshi Monsters》是浏览器上的一款儿童游戏。如果回到孩子们还未拥有主机，并且父母监控着他们的上网时间的年代，这便不是问题所在。在受到监管的年轻用户群体面前，浏览器将会打败主机。但是在Mind Candy推出《Moshi Monsters》时，乔布斯的苹果以及改变了游戏规则，iPhone和iPad的出现更是改变了孩子们与技术的互动方式。
最近来自Common Sense Media名为《Zero to Eight》的报告指出，63%8岁以下的美国儿童会在家使用智能手机。40%会使用平板电脑（不管是iPad，Android或其它），并且该数值是在2年内从8%跃升到这里。甚至38%2岁以下的儿童也使用过手机设备。
当《Moshi Monsters》发行时，市场非常宽阔。主要的竞争是源自Club Penguin等网站，以及像Miniclip等儿童电视频道和门户的免费Flash游戏渠道。现在，儿童们越早开始在触屏设备上玩游戏了。这便意味着像《Hay Day》，《Dragonvale》和《Candy Crush Saga》等游戏创造了更多压力，同时吸引年轻目标用户到非触屏体验中也成为一大问题所在。
儿童品牌拥有两个策略。一个便是永葆青春。小的时候我便很喜欢《Mr Men》和《Thomas the Tank Engine》。而现在我的孩子们也很喜欢它们。授权是从把用户小时候数值的内容发展成产品然后再脱离它而受益。
对于《Moshi Monsters》的目标用户群体我并未进行深刻了解。但我恐怕其用户正在不断变老。在市场的年轻一端，儿童们是伴随着触屏体验成长，而不再是鼠标和键盘。他们习惯于使用触屏在不同游戏间切换着。浏览器游戏是停留在学校设备上（PC）而不是乐趣设备中（平板电脑）。所以说《Moshi Monsters》的用户群体在变老。可能当他们是10岁或12岁时还是合理的。但当他们成长到14岁或18岁时是否还会玩《Moshi Monsters》？
在笔记本电脑上，《Moshi Monsters》可能是目标选择。但是在平板电脑上，它便是众多应用中的一款，需要与《龙谷》和许多来自Toca Boca 的应用竞争。轻敲一个小图标去关闭一款应用并选择一个新应用图标是一种重要时刻。
我害怕这种情况会发生在Mind Candy身上。从内部看来发展似乎很顺利：《Moshi Monsters》仍拥有很好的成绩，授权收益不断增加，在即将到来的圣诞节将会推出新电影。但是如果投资者开始将其当成是一种成熟的业务，世界上的所有业务增长将不再抵消并联而来的衰退。
Mind Candy需要一个全新的IP。这很难。但是它必须重新定义创业态度，不再围绕着《Perplexcity》和《Moshi Monsters》转悠，开始进行新的尝试。
Mind Candy需要明确如何管理儿童用户。如果它不能发行一个全新IP，它最大的希望便是将《Moshi Monsters》定位成一个长青品牌。
Trick or treat: The trouble with Mind Candy
By Nicholas Lovell
I like Mind Candy very much, and I hope it will become the British Disney. I am, unfortunately, not convinced that it will. A confluence of issues are causing headaches for the company, and it needs to hurry up and sort them out.
1. Tablets, tablets, tablets.
Moshi Monsters is a kid’s product that lives in the browser. That was fine, back when young kids didn’t have consoles and their parents wanted to be able to supervise their online time. Browsers beat consoles for that young demographic who often played with the supervision or involvement of their parents. Since Mind Candy launched Moshi Monsters, though, Steve Jobs’ Cupertino behemoth has changed the rules of the game not once not twice, launching the iPhone and the iPad and changing the way kids interact with technology for ever.
A recent report from Common Sense Media entitled Zero to Eight says that 63% of American children under the age of eight have access to a smartphone at home. Forty per cent have access to tablet (whether iPad, Android or other) and that number has jumped from 8% in just two years. Thirty eight per cent of children under the age of two have used a mobile device for media.
When Moshi Monsters launched, the market was uncrowded. The competition came from sites like Club Penguin, the free Flash-based gaming channels of the kids TV channels and portals such as Miniclip. Now, children are starting to play games much earlier on touch devices. That means that there is much more competition from other games like Hay Day, Dragonvale and Candy Crush Saga, as well as a problem attracting a younger demographic to a non-touchscreen experience.
2. They grow up so fast
A kid’s brand has two strategies available to it. One is to be evergreen. I liked the Mr Men and Thomas the Tank Engine as a child. Now my kids like them too. The franchises benefit from a renewing supply of customers as kids grow into the product and then grow out of it.
The other is to age with your customers, a strategy which Lego has managed well (although to be fair, it has done very well at the onboarding end of the process too).
I have no insight into Moshi Monsters’ demographics. But I fear that its audience is ageing. At the young end of the market, kids are growing up navigating touchscreen devices, not the mouse and keyboard. They are used to switching between games with the touch of a button with little loyalty. A browser game risks being on the school device (a PC) not the fun device (a tablet). So Moshi’s audience ages. Which is perhaps fine when they are 10, or when they are 12. But will 14 year olds be playing Moshi Monsters? Or 18 year olds?
If I am right, and Moshi’s demographic is aging, it is in for trouble in a couple of years time.
3. Fickle kids
On the laptop, Moshi Monsters is a destination. On the tablet, it is one of many apps, competing for attention with Dragonvale and the marvellous apps from Toca Boca and tens of thousands of other apps. It is the matter of a moment to tap that little button to shut down one app, select the icon of a new app and be playing a different title.
Moshi has to adapt to no longer being a destination in a competitive world. It is the same problem that Facebook faced as the world became increasingly mobile. It can be navigated, but it is hard.
4. When growth stalls, valuation plummets
Next year, Mind Candy could see its revenues and profits double but its valuation halve. I’m not making a specific forecast here, I am just making a point about what happens to valuation when a company shifts in the minds of investors from being a growth stock to being a cash-generative business. All businesses are valued on the basis of future cashflows. (In technical terms, the value of a business is the present value of future cashflows of the company, discounted – i.e. adjusted – for the risk that the company does not achieve those cash flows).
For a long time, Mind Candy was the golden child, proving the European companies could be successful at creating Intellectual Property with global appeal and longevity. Its star was high. But what happens if growth stalls? If the US launch is harder than anticipated? If the audience is aging?
The answer is that the valuation falls, even as revenues and profits rise. Investors will often value a company based on a rule of thumb based on comparable companies. A growth company might trade at 40x forecast earnings, or even more. A mature company might trade at 10x earnings. That might be the same company, that feels the same internally, suddenly seeing its valuation fall by 75%, even as revenues and profits rise.
I fear that may be happening at Mind Candy. It feels great internally: Moshi still doing well, licensing revenue growing, a movie out this Christmas. But if investors start thinking that this is a maturing business, all the revenue growth in the world won’t offset the fall in multiples.
What is Mind Candy to do
I very much hope that I am wrong in my concerns. I would love Mind Candy to become the British Disney. For that to happen, several stars need to be aligned.
Mind Candy needs to be on tablets. Right now. In any form. MVP, MDP, Minimum Awesome Product. It needs to be learning and iterating on a fast-changing medium before it is too late.
Mind Candy needs a new IP. This is tougher. But it needs to refind the scrappy startup attitude that allowed it to pivot away from Perplexcity and launched Moshi, and it needs to start experimenting.
Mind Candy needs to figure out how to keep onboarding young children. If it fails to launch a new IP, its best hope is to position Moshi as an evergreen brand, and that requires, well, being evergreen.
I hope that Mind Candy is on track to do all of these things. If not, it risks first its valuation falling as it transitions from being a growth stock to becoming a mature investment. Then it risks losing its audience as they age and migrate to Facebook or the next messenging app that teenagers adopt. Then it risks becoming an also-ran.
Please, Mind Candy, don’t do that.(source:gamesbrief)