The long line of fans zigzagging through the floor displays of the Toys 'R' Us Times Square store in New York recently to meet Mr. Moshi was indicative of the popularity of Moshi Monsters as well as a clear reminder of the popularity of virtual worlds among consumers.
Each of the executives in attendance from TRU, Mind Candy and master licensee Spin Master were pleasantly surprised with the large turnout of fans for the debut of the new Moshi Monster collection in the U.S. The exclusive TRU toy line features six plush characters, as well as 32 Moshling mini-figures that include secret codes redeemable for virtual items.
If you also consider the popularity of mobile apps–games in particular–then you will begin to realize that there is a major trend emerging based on the widespread popularity among consumers that has only begun to scratch the surface with regard to the potential of these viral properties in brand licensing.
Games continue to be the most popular app category downloaded, according to Nielsen research, and 93 percent of app downloaders (who have downloaded an app within the past 30 days) report they are willing to pay for the games they play. In contrast, only 76 percent of downloaders are willing to pay for news apps.
The fact is that virtual worlds, shows, game apps and the like, versus the more traditional forms of gaming and entertainment, garner almost instantaneous popularity among consumers, deliver a strong fan base and offer lower development costs thereby making these new properties very attractive for licensing.
The user numbers can be staggering and certainly deliver an audience that can exceed the audience for many television series in a fraction of the time–months versus years.
The topic of discussion for just about every industry and social meeting is what many consultants would term a "paradigm shift" in entertainment that has ramifications across almost every related industry from licensing to retail.
Consider some of the properties that have garnered huge popularity and are already developing major licensing programs with strong retailer support:
- Moshi Monsters–This social game now has more than 50 million registered users worldwide and its popularity continues to grow. According to Mind Candy, more than 850 million educational puzzles have been played and over one million virtual items are sold each day. Following the exclusive launch of its licensed products in the U.S. with TRU, an extensive licensing program is being developed.
- Annoying Orange–With more than 650 million views on YouTube, two million subscribers, 60 million video views per month and nine million fans on Facebook and Twitter, this property and its characters such as Midget Apple, Pear, Passion and Grandpa Lemon has also experienced huge growth. An extensive licensing program, which is being developed by The Joester Loria Group, will see teen and adult trend products begin to hit several major retailers this fall with a major multi-category roll out in 2012 and beyond. A 30-minute TV pilot is also being developed.
- Angry Birds–Developed by Rovio and released in 2009, this game has skyrocketed in growth boasting more than 200 million downloads and has become the number one selling app in numerous countries. The property continues to build an extensive licensing program handled by Striker Entertainment in the U.S.
- Talking Friends–Launched a year ago by Outfit7, this mobile app has also posted some incredible numbers with 135 million downloads. Beanstalk was appointed in June to develop a multi-category licensing program for its characters such as Taking Tom Cat, Ben the Dog and Gina the Giraffe.
While these are just a few top line examples, these properties demonstrate a huge opportunity that will impact the scope of entertainment, brand licensing and retail over the next several years and a lucky few will become bona fide long-standing brands.