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Indie Spotlight – KANO/APPS Founder Interview (Part 2)

Last week we published part one of our interview with KANO/APPS. KANO/APPS is a mobile social gaming company based in my hometown of Victoria, Canada whose games have amassed hundreds of thousands of dedicated players from around the world. Their games foster communities and are some of the most addictive social/mobile games you’ll find around. Just give Zombie Slayer a try and I assure you that you’ll be hooked in no time.

I recently sat down with Tim Teh, one of the founding fathers of KANO/APPS to talk about the recipe for their success, the newly released KANO Games, and their future projects.

Check out part 2 of our interview with Tim Teh after the break.

KANO/APPS’ first game that’s still played by many four years after release.

JTM Games: Out of the games that KANO/APPS has created so far, which one, in your opinion, has seen the most success? Why do you think that is?

Tim Teh: All of our games have had quite a bit of success; interestingly enough, probably the first game we released (Viking Clan) has had tremendous amount of success. It’s been around for four years now and we still have players that have been there since day one playing the game.

Why exactly? I’m really sure. It’s a pretty niche market; our games aren’t huge. We don’t have those million monthly active users playing the games. We have smaller niche market user bases but they’re really passionate about the games and the mechanics. We’re also always releasing new content to the games including expansion packs so players that have invested time since the beginning are still able to get enjoyment because they always have something new to reach.

JTM Games: Speaking of expansion packs, do you think that the free-to-play method is a great way for independent companies to get players into their games? 

Tim Teh: Yeah, for us that’s definitely been the way that we’ve gone. We’ve gone with the freemium model; with microtransaction, virtual good, monetization model. We haven’t really had much experience with subscription-based gameplay or app purchases so I can’t really speak for that side of things.

As far as free-to-play model? Yeah I think it’s a great model; it works really well. The harder thing about the model is it’s harder to predict because if you’re acquiring users at a certain price point, you don’t have a direct idea of the lifetime value of the user coming in to free-to-play model.

JTM Games: Why did KANO/APPS choose to go with the genre of games that it’s been known for making? Do you see the company creating more graphically-intensive games in the future?

Tim Teh: When we started, the partners and I, we built the games ourselves so we used the technologies that we knew which for us meant working from a web background. HTML and Javascript was what we built our games on. We’ve seen tremendous success from that so as far as building graphic-intensive games, something that we don’t know, is not in our DNA. We’ve never done anything like that before; I’m not gonna say that we won’t do that either. But right now, we’re very excited about what we can do with HTML5 as a technology. We have some second-generation games that are coming, launching after the end of Q3 this year that I think really push the boundaries of HTML5 as a technology and you guys are gonna see really cool things to come.

KANO GAMES – Play. Share. Collect. Complete

JTM Games: Continuing on that, you’ve recently released KANO Games. Could you give us an overview of the product?

Tim Teh: KANO Games is a really unique product. We think it’s very different than any other flash/online gaming portals in that most of the flash/online game portals that you have available now are what we would call web 1.o style. We think we’ve created something that’s closer to a web app using cutting-edge web technologies to create a really fast experience for players to surface games that they want to play. We’ve integrated a deep social into the platform from the start, so that’s not something that we did as an afterthought.

We bring our social gaming experience over to creating a platform where players can customize their characters with what we call a KANO Bot avatar. There’s different mini-games that you can play on the site and players can gain achievements on the site by performing different actions through the games. For example by rating, commenting, following people, and finding other people that are playing similar games as to the ones they like. With the rating system, it really pushes up the quality; so we try to push in new content daily to the site but with the social interactions of people and because the site is live and vibrant, it allows people to really push up the quality games instead of having a catalog of  thousands of games where only a hundred of them are high-quality. You’re able to quickly find the quality games because of the rating system.

JTM Games: In your opinion, what is KANO/APPS’ secret to creating addictive social games?

Tim Teh: For us, like you mentioned leveling up, I mean it’s strong game mechanics. We have a  team of really strong game designers that understand the various game loops, so we take a lot of time to perfect a few strong game mechanic loops, gameplay loops within the games and really focusing on drawing that out and exposing that to the user.  That and always providing new content.

So, really strong gameplay plus new content to keep it going is what we try to concentrate on. Like I said, no high-graphic animation content rgiht so players are really using their imaginations. The other thing is the social channels that we have within the games; you’re able to play with friends. You’re able to perform co-op campaigns, work with factions, you can battle players in real-time on Facebook, and all of those are addicting qualities.

JTM Games: Are there any future projects that you can talk about today? 

Tim Teh: Yeah, look out for new social games from KANO/APPS in early Q4 of this year. Those will be HTML5, Javascript and you’ll be able to play those games on Facebook on your mobile devices. On KANO Games, look out for some really cool exclusive Flash content that’s going to be coming soon. And possibly some casual play mobile games.

Run Robo Run is Kano Apps’ first exclusive game on KanoGames.

JTM Games: Is there anything else about KANO/APPS that you’d like people to know?

Tim Teh: We’re hiring! Yeah, check out our website where you can read our blog, and learn more about our culture. If you’re in the Victoria area, we’re looking for mainly engineers, data analysts right now. If you don’t see a job posting on our site, apply anyway. We’re always looking for really good people to join the team.

Basically, what we want to do is build a really great team here. So have a lot of great people here now, we just want to keep expanding with great people. If you have skills that you to contribute to the projects that we’re doing, the new games that are coming, you should apply. If there isn’t a position for you, we’ll find one, we’ll make one and we’ll bring you in.

*End Interview*

I’d like to personally thank Tim Teh for having us over at the KANO/APPS offices for the interview and for offering insight into the culture of one of Victoria BC’s most successful indie game developers.

If you’re interested in trying out KANO/APPS games, check out their game catalogue.

If you’re interested in working for this up and coming independent game studio, check out their job postings.

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About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming. http://jtmgames.com/

Posted on October 4, 2012, in Indie Spotlight and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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