Mochi Media Announces Social API, $10 Million Fund for Flash and Social Games

Mochi Media, the Flash gaming platform company that sold to China media giant Shanda Games for $80 million earlier this year, is continuing to focus on social. It’s announcing new tools for developers today, allowing them to provide ways for users to play games against friends and share activity to their social networks. It’s also offering a new $10 million fund for Flash and social games, in conjunction with its new corporate parent, to help finance promising new ideas.

The company worked last year to apply concepts from free-to-play social games to the Flash widget games on its site, introducing a platform-wide virtual currency, Mochi Coins, and a way for users to find friends from social networks and share things like high scores with them.

Mochi had begun live providing ways for developers to integrate pre-roll and other advertising into their widgets. Developers can then let anyone embed their games anywhere the web, and make money for themselves (with Mochi also getting a cut). On top of this, Mochi provides game analytics tools so developers could track usage and figure out where to improve their products. The company now says it reaches 150 million monthly active users, who play 15,000 games on 40,000 different web sites.

The Social API (application programming interface) lets users sign in to play a game via their identities on Facebook (using Facebook Connect), MySpace or Twitter, then play friends from across these sites and and access each site’s communication channels — say, posting a big gaming win to your Facebook wall.

But the API goes beyond what the company launched last fall, as vice president of product management Ryan Nichols tells us. It’s a layer on top of these other networks, and mimicks Facebook’s API so a social game developer on Facebook could easily port their game to it. Once a user adds a friend on Mochi from one of the social sites, that person becomes their Mochi friend — if Facebook goes down, for example, Mochi can still maintain its connection between the two people. The API =also includes a way for developers to message all users on a game, regardless of which social platform they are on.

This is a smart idea, but one issue is that many social gamers prefer playing games on social networks. Why? Many don’t even realize that they’re playing “games,” per se, but rather passing the time doing something entertaining with friends on the site.

The $10 million fund, meanwhile, “will be managed by members of the management team of Mochi Media and Shanda Games. Through participation with the fund, developers will gain access to technical, design and testing resources from Shanda Games, as well as a host of development tools and distribution….”

The big picture here is this: Shanda Games, a publicly-traded company controlled by Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd., wants to compete outside of China. Mochi offers distribution and monetization services that allow it to do so; the social features are another step in that direction. The fund is, too. The other interesting angle we’ve been hearing is that netbook usage is exploding in China, and the lightweight devices can’t handle the processing power required for many of the downloadable and massively multiplayer online games popular in the country. The company has organically gained millions of users in China — people who have just found Mochi-powered games on their own — so Shanda is aiming for Mochi to bring its 15,000 games to bear on the Chinese market.