Ten Year-Olds Versus the Triple-A Market
Fight My Monster's Dylan Collins explains why the next generation of gamers are going to destroy the internet
"I have this line I use where I say 'kids are going to destroy the internet' because we just haven't a clue what they particularly want," says Fight My Monster chairman Dylan Collins.
He's talking about the tricky under 13's market, something that he knows a thing or two about. His company caters specifically for them with virtual trading card success Fight My Monster.
He argues that the players FMM is catering for now will have completely different expectations of gaming by the time they're ready to start buying and playing triple-A titles.
"Kids are definitely going to change the landscape, simply because it wasn't designed for them in the first place"
"This new generation of kids who are growing up who are under 13, they've had access to things like iPads and the internet in general from pretty much the age of two or three. We've never seen that before," he explains.
"There's never been a generation like that. So they have a completely different expectation of what interactive engagement is, what a user interface should be, and they're pretty ruthless about what they will and won't use."
Basically all those things we oldies love, like Twitter and Gmail and social networks, are based on our experiences, which are very different from a kid's who has been playing with a screen or a mobile since before they could talk.
"I'm not saying it's going to be the end of Facebook or anything crazy like that but they are definitely going to change the landscape simply because it wasn't designed for them in the first place."
And they're not just passive users, we're entering an unnerving place where the kids that are starting to play games are also able to make them.
"And they're able to create their own games, they're able to create their own apps, I mean every other day you see a 10 or 12 year old coming out with a new game. I think in terms of what they're going to do next I think frankly we don't know, but I'm pretty happy that we're this side of the demographic rather than the other one."
It's important to point out that Collins, along with his business partner and Fight My Monster CEO Dominic Williams aren't exactly struggling. The game released some new stats at Easter that showed the game was being played by 1.1 million boys, playing for, on average, around 41 minutes at a time and who had enjoyed over 32 million battle challenges.
And these are gamers with no Facebook account, no Twitter, no Tumblr, and often no email address.
"I think a lot of the triple-A publishers are looking at this tsunami of kids going 'holy Jesus, what is going to happen?' Activision has done a great job with Skylanders but there have been an awful lot of companies who have tried and who have failed to make that happen," he adds.
"I think the trick in such a transitioning time is to be small and nimble, because you can react. I think when you're a large company, when you're a multi-billion dollar company it's really hard to react and to make changes quickly based on what your users want."
Collins believes that for FMM, success is going to be down to what he and Williams say no to, rather than spreading themselves too thin. One thing they are doing is a TV deal with Octonauts studio Brown Bag Films.
"I've personally never seen a company grow this fast in all the companies I've been involved with, it's nuts," he admits.
"And when you look at the demographic and how hard it is to get to them the thing is really a force of nature at this stage. And in terms of where we can take that I think there's some pretty huge opportunities there."
Of course for other companies to make the most of those opportunities and find success in this difficult demographic, they need investment. Which just happens to be a subject that Collins is incredibly passionate about.
"I think if they could collect about a third of all the VCs in the country and shoot them that would be helpful," he jokes, as he talks of improving the relationships between UK investors and the games industry.
He argues the problem lies with the venture capitalist, not enough of the firms have partners who have been part of a recent start up, and without the relevant experience they're nervous about committing to games projects.
"Games expertise tends to be fairly specific anyway and there's not a huge amount of it around in terms of game start-ups and things like that," he explains.
"If we could collect about a third of all the VCs in the country and shoot them that would be helpful"
"So you've got that being added to the situation where VCs don't know how to choose winners. Because that's essentially what they get paid to do, we're going to put money in the companies we think are going to be big, but if they don't have a games background it's pretty hard for them to do that."
FMM has LA based investors, which is reaping rewards on the media and entertainment scenes, and German supporters, who have strong contacts in the online space. He says a good investor can be crucial to a project, and that that relationship matters almost as much as the money. But it's up to the UK and European VCs to make sure they can compete.
"I think you're going to see the appetites are opening up for more European deals and it is a case that if your European investors don't step up, then the Americans are going to come in and take their lunch," he warns.
"You look at guys like Zynga, and they were all turned down by a huge number of investors when they were starting. Frankly, when everyone is telling us we're right that's when I really start to get worried."
Right now Collins and Williams are excited to see just how big FMM can get, and are certainly aiming to reach and go beyond Moshi Monsters' 55 million users. Both want to build the game into "something special."
"There's a lot of boys in the world, we're happy to try and entertain all of them."