Tech Talk: Game Co. Ups Play Time with App
Mochi Media is a San Francisco-based company founded in 2005 that created a gaming platform at www.mochigames.com and distributes developers' Flash games across the Web. The company, which now has 48 employees in the U.S. and Shanghai, developed an online app this summer that has driven up playing time with the games it publishes and also increased the variety of games players utilize, Ryan Nichols, Mochi Media's vice president of product, tells IncTechnology.com.
Elizabeth Wasserman: What does Mochi Media do?
Ryan Nichols: In 2005, Jameson Hsu and Bob Ippolito founded Mochi Media in order to foster the growth and prestige of independent game developers around the world. They were both involved in building or producing online Flash games, but were doing it mostly for client work. They found these Flash games were very popular and would spread across the Web like viral video. The developers were creating a lot of value and got nothing in return because there was no way to monetize the games. Mochi Media was founded to fill this need and help them make money.
We've grown to be world's largest network of browser-based games. We act as both a publisher and a platform for playing the games. On the platform side, for developers we provide a number of tools and services for monetization, such as ads for advertising and selling virtual goods inside the games. We provide the technology to do that and to track the games -- where they are being played, how long they're being played and the demographics, what is going on inside the game and how to make the game play better through analytics. Our catalog of games has grown to 15,000 and we reach about 140 million players a month through this catalog. We also have over 3,000 active developers. In addition, we work with over 40,000 third-party sites to distribute these games all over the globe.
Wasserman: Why did you decide you needed an app?
Nichols: From the publisher's side, our mission is to distribute these games cross-platform and globally. We saw apps as a unique platform through which users are inviting you into their world through their phone or their desktop. Typically, we pull users to a website. We're not where they are every day. Our Flash games are something they play while on a break. You're doing work, studying, or relaxing and you take a quick break to play these games. By having an app installed right into the browser, you don't have to take a break to have access to your favorite games.
Wasserman: There are a variety of platforms on which to develop applications, why did you choose the one you did?
Nichols: Looking at the various technologies, this platform by Conduit is my favorite way to play our games. It provides a great user experience for casual Flash games. It's extremely flexible. The updates we can do instantaneously. On other mobile apps or platforms you have to wait two weeks to get accepted or approved. This was a great way to take everything we had on MochiGames and put it in a great package.
The first thing we liked was that it was installed right in the browser. The tool bar is installed right below the address bar. Users have one-click access. They don't have to leave what they're doing. They don't have to leave their e-mail; they don't have to leave their spreadsheet. They see this window and get access to our games in another window.
Wasserman: When did you develop the app?
Nichols: We developed the first version early this summer.
Wasserman: Was it easy to develop?
Nichols: It was mostly using HTML so it was very easy to take what we had on the website and take it over. Using HTML meant my entire team could use all their skills and just change the format and user experience for what they wanted and just get it up. To get what we have now it took about two to three weeks with testing, which I consider pretty fast.
Wasserman: Have you been able to measure any results?
Nichols: We looked at results from the first version in the summer to test that out, and the engagement times -- the time spent overall in the game -- were up 50 percent higher than the time spent on a website or our partner sites. The second thing that stood out to us was that players played more games than they would on a website. They feel that if I'm going to travel to a website, I've left my work and I'm doing something else. This is just 'I can click a button and take a break.' The distribution is great. They have a broad network. Users like these apps and they like to play games in the apps and that is what we were really looking for when we started out.