Online pioneer plans to grow hugely popular online world - but not through a publisher deal

Mind Candy to self-fund DS Moshi game

The team behind popular online kids property Moshi Monsters are planning to self-fund and self-publish console games.

London-based Mind Candy is responsible for the hugely popular virtual-pet-meets-Facebook site, and in a bid to grow the brand further has signed key licensing deals – with console games the big priority.

DS and 3DS is the first target, with Mind Candy hopeful it can use its fast-mover online web smarts to work with an established independent console developer and have a game developed and out in just a year, and on sale by Christmas 2011.

The plans were unveiled at a central London press conference this afternoon where Mind Candy also detailed a range of toys, books, a print-on-demand magazine, and retail packs that will be on store shelves in a matter of weeks. 2010’s tie-in products are just the first step in a bid to grow the franchise.

Mind Candy says that as of 9am this morning it had 27,089,797 registered users from ages 4 up to 14. The firm’s in-house research claims 1 in 3 UK children have designed their own character in-game.

Speaking to Develop after the press conference, CEO Michael Acton Smith explained that the firm had originally pursued a traditional licensing deal with a publisher – "but the numbers didn’t add up".

"Instead we want to really be a part of making Moshi work on DS – it’s a really important format to our young players; the most asked question they put to us is ‘When is the DS game coming out?’

"And why farm that out to a publisher when we are already experts in marketing and have lots of game development experience already?"

Instead, Mind Candy wants to closely manage and control the production of the game itself, and make it consistent with the online world, and also link back to it through offline play.

But it won’t build an in-house team – discussions are already ongoing with potential development partners, but nothing is signed yet. Acton Smith said that Moshi is open to ideas from other developers interested in working on the property.

Mind Candy says the DS/3DS title is its first console game – but it won’t be the last. Acton Smith told Develop he expects there to be more console games as Moshi Monsters develops further.

The firm has already developed a fun iPhone App, due out on September 29th, that players can hold up to their face to make their mouths look like an in-game character’s.

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