No – they are not the same company.
Sadly Kiwi Melissa Clark-Reynolds’ MiniMonos is closing down. It’s a virtual world for kids full of monkeys, and seems to have had a good run, so this is a tough time for Melissa and her team. The tag line is “love to play, love the planet” and it was aimed at younger folk.
The problem was stated as losing member numbers. My take is that their target market was ever changing, as kids grow up, which means the site would have to constantly get a new generation of kids on board. Meanwhile the technology and gaming world moved quickly on to the next thing, in this case iPods, iPads and iPhones. It seems that their outstanding customer service and other efforts came at a cost that was to high versus their declining revenue.
and that app on iTunes is doing very well:
2446 reviews, a very high rating along with that and a long list of potential in-game purchases. This looks like it’s well loved and making good money. The game promises that you can “collect, raise and battle your way to greatness”, and is aimed at everyone.
Aside from the names and cartoon look, it is a little random to compare these two businesses. But doing is interesting to show how the world has moved.
I see three definitive differences between the games:
- MiniMonos is Flash based, aimed at kids using computers, while MinoMonsters is iOS based, aimed at people using iPhones and iPads. While Flash is still surprisingly huge, the world has shifted hard towards Flash-less mobile devices.
- MiniMonos is a wander around and touch world aimed at small kids, MinoMonsters has battle element and is attractive to people of all ages. Older people have more money to spend and ability to spend it.
- MiniMonos is played in a virtual world with others, MinoMonsters on your own device in your own time. A virtual world needs other people in it to interact with, and once others start disappearing the reasons to stay evaporate. iOS games have various techniques to bring in gaming with friends and strangers, but they are often playable when the other party is offline.
So what should MiniMonos do?
It looks like they have done the right things.
Firstly they have launched not one but two iOS applications. The first, MiniMonos Flight was released in 2010, panned by the handful of reviewers, and best left alone. The second, MonkeyMe, which seems to have just been released, seems much better. It has 7 reviews in the US store, all positive, and while the cynic in me discounts the first few reviews, the current paying customers if MiniMonos will come across to try out their free coins. The app lets players create monkey avatars, share them with friends and enter a daily competition. It’s an interesting approach that keeps the community aspect of MiniMonos while allowing offline play. Time will tell how it works out, but at the very least it will be a lot lower cost and maintenance than the MiniMonos flash site.
Secondly they made the hard call and closed down the MiniMonos site. It’s hard to watch something that you have poured a lot of money and effort into get switched off, but it’s the right thing to do as it frees up that time and money to focus on other internal or external work. If the paying customer numbers are not rising, or start to fall, then in general teams need to take a hard look at the reason why, and either change things up or walk away.
And thirdly they will surely try again. There are a lot of learnings on the path to failure, and while the iOS app may or may not be too late, the MiniMonos team no doubt has plenty of other ideas to dive into.