Why HeyZap Coins and Mochi Coins fall short

Recently both HeyZap and Mochi Media launched virtual goods platforms for Flash games. In short they allow players to purchase game items with hard currency. Want to kill zombies more effectively? Buy this $0,05/600 Mochi coins double-barrel shotgun! With virtual goods being the “new advertising” as far as internet business models go, why does this effort fall short? Jussi, we thought you loved virtual goods!

Oh yes, I still love virtual goods. There is nothing wrong with the basic premise of the service offered by HeyZap and Mochi Media, but plenty of issues with trying to monetize primarily single player Flash game experiences. It’s the classic “If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there to see it, does it really fall” problem. I can buy a better shotgun, but without other players, my friends and my rivals , what is the point? Why would I bling out my virtual house if my friend’s can visit? Is there anybody to listen when I boast about my exploits? Is there anybody to best? Anybody to share this experience with?

Due to the nature of the games they serve HeyZap and Mochi Media are currently limited to effectively selling you “cheat codes“. It’s a hollow experience without the social context offered by persistent multiplayer games (e.g. MMOs or social games), and I don’t expect this to save Flash games developers. In HeyZap’s and Mochi Media’s shoes I’d be investing heavily into providing the tools to let Flash developers create these persistent multiplayer experiences (Nonoba is doing it). However, as a Flash developer I wouldn’t wait – I’d jump ship to social games this instant (massive & free distribution, social context, paying customers = the win).

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8 Comments on “Why HeyZap Coins and Mochi Coins fall short”

  1. Bob Ippolito Says:

    There’s nothing about the Mochi Coins API that makes it only suitable for single-player games. Minions on Ice is an example of a real-time multiplayer game that uses the Mochi Coins API. It’s already out.

    The Mochi Scores API is a subset of asynchronous multiplayer as it allows competition amongst friends in the way of scores, and you can see that used in several of the other Mochi Coins enabled games such as SAS 2 Zombie Assault. We’ve been spending a lot of time evolving this system and will continue to do so.

    I expect that you’ll start to see more multi-player Flash games using the Mochi Coins API and other microtransaction systems now that the economics are better. It takes longer to build and is more expensive to run a multi-player game, but the technology to build them is already widely accessible and easy enough to use, you don’t really need Mochi to build anything for you.

  2. Bob,

    my call to action for Mochi and HeyZap is to go beyond transactions and to help developers build the multiplayer persistent experiences. Mochi and HeyZap are both platform providers and in a position to develop these features and help Flash developers monetize. That is why the offering currently falls short.

    The title of the post could very well be “Why Flash games fall short with virtual goods monetization”, but because very few Flash devs are in the position to do anything about it, I rather want to provide a friendly nudge to both companies. The onus is on Mochi and HeyZap, because your goal is to help monetize Flash games.

  3. Colm Larkin Says:

    Just made this comment on the venturebeat blog, using the same example as Bob:
    @Jussi: the Mochi Coins ecosystem isn’t limited to just single player games; it can be used in any type of game. One of their launch titles, Minions on Ice, is multiplayer w/ persistance (profiles, friends, etc) on the Casual Connect site. It already uses credit card payments on that site to buy upgrades; Mochi Coins integration will simply let it do the same on ANY site hosting the game.

    I agree there may be more of a social ‘push’ to buy when a game does have a social/multiplayer aspect. But I don’t think it’s a must-have; plenty of people will be happy to pay for extras in a single player game they enjoy. In fact, NOT sharing that you spent $18 on weapons for a zombie shooter with your friends might be preferable to some!

    I think Mochi should perhaps look into enabling multiplayer stuff in the future, but I don’t think it’s necessary for Mochi Coins to be successful (ie be a better moneymaker for devs than ads).

    • Just a note: Castlewars Multiplayer, a game currently using MochiCoins, is indeed a multiplayer experience that is doing quite well since its initial launch.

  4. Colm, I totally understand that Mochi coins can be used for any type of game – single or multiplayer. With a pre-dominantly (99%?) single player base using Mochi Ads and other offerings from Mochi, the next step should be push more transactions using Mochi Coins. The way to do that is to add more social engagement.

    As Bob says, Mochi has already built a scoring system. It is a clear acknowledgement that developers are in need of these systems.

    There are definitely plenty of good infrastructure available for multiplayer games (e.g. Smart Fox Server), but how is a 2-3 person, part time Flash developer outfit going to handle building on top of that infrastructure?

    As Daniel Cook points out in his wonderful Flash Love Letter, Flash games are stuck in a rut until the monetization improves. I know this post has an inflammatory headline, but there are very few companies better set to do something about this than Mochi (and while doing so, make themselves even more indispensable as a platform).

  5. Virtual Goods News asks “Do Microtransactions Have Staying Power In Flash Games?” and finds the ARPU for SAS: Zombie Assault 2 halved in two months since the launch:

  6. Mochi takes the lead and launches Mochi Social to add social features. Great to see it happen! Article on VentureBeat: http://bit.ly/c62XUT

  7. I’m very glad you brought this up, I completely agree. In fact, I just wrote an article on how microtransactions need persistence just a few days ago. Take a look at it, I’m sure we’ll agree plenty. Nice article, keep ’em coming.

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