UK-based Mind Candy, developer and publisher of child-targeted MMO Moshi Monsters
, revealed that its free-to-play game has reached 29 million registered accounts spread out across 150 countries.
Of that total, 20 million accounts were registered in the past year -- 35 percent from the U.S. and 30 percent from the U.K. According to a report
from TechCrunch, one in three UK children aged 7 to 11 years old has signed up to play Moshi Monsters
In the MMO, users adopt and raise a monster, earn and spend Rox (in-game currency), purchase accessories and decorations for their virtual home, and play over 150 million puzzle games designed to test skills like basic math, spatial awareness, logic, and vocabulary.
Though Moshi Monsters
is free to play, a £5 ($8) monthly subscription option is available for access to exclusive areas, features, and more Rox. Mind Candy hasn't disclosed how man subscribers it's accumulated, but the studio has been profitable since last year.
Mind Candy says it attracts subscribers by keeping the maximum cost players can spend on the game at £5, and not running scam-like advertisement offers to give out virtual currency. The game's limited social networking features that allow kids to communicate with friends have helped, too.
The online game will also break out with real-world products
next year, as licensing deals for Moshi Monsters
toys already in place for the U.S. and UK. Adding to that, Mind Candy has partnered with Penguin to publish a series of books based on the MMO's setting around the world.
CEO Michael Acton Smith ambitiously projected that the retail value of all Moshi Monsters
-related merchandise sold in 2011 will come out to $100 million: "We have major retail commitments for many of the lines so have a pretty good idea of how revenue numbers will stack up. That said, it is only a forecast and we've got still got a lot of work to do to achieve it."