Kano/Apps finds success in social core game scene by listening to and building relationships with players

kano_apps-4541Canadian game developer Kano/Apps recently released its new mid-core strategy game Kingdom of Thrones on Facebook. We recently sat down with Kano/Apps Co-Founder Tim Teh to chat about the new game and how the studio managed to attain (and maintain) profitability.

Kingdom of Thrones is a notably different game from those previously developed by Kano/Apps. Prior to this point, the company had found success with its text heavy RPGs Viking Clan, Pirate Clan, Zombie Slayer and Mob Wars: La Cosa Nostra. Kano Apps was founded in 2008, and managed to bootstrap itself into profitability during the same year with these kinds of games.

Teh tells us it was much easier to grow a hit without spending a lot of cash on user acquisition at the time. “The popular game at the time was Mob Wars. It was this game that popped up and made people notice there was a viable industry there,” he notes. “All the viral channels were really open and not clamped down at all. So we were able to grow and become profitable within the first year.”

kot_app_iconKano/Apps is still profitable, he tells us. Although the company’s grown, it’s still a smaller shop, with only 20 full-time staff in its Victoria office. However, the studio’s managed to double its team year over year.

Currently Kingdom of Thrones has approximately 50,000 MAU, a number Teh is happy with while the team continues to work on iterating the game. He notes the game was released as “a minimal viable product” that can be evolved to meet players’ desires as it continues to grow on the platform.

Players are responding well to the usual features Kano/Apps has in its games like social features and factions, but Teh says the most popular part of Kingdom of Thrones is its ever-growing, interactive world map. Likewise, the deep gameplay is also going over well.

“The game itself looks very basic from the top, but once you start playing you realize there’s a lot of depth,” he says. “There are in-depth skill trees, we have hero development where people can increase skills and traits on their heroes to help in battle.”

Kingdom of Thrones is receiving constant updates right now from its dev team, with one to two updates being rolled out every week based on feedback from users.

Like most other social developers, Teh says Kano/Apps is looking at bringing the game over to tablets but won’t commit to anything yet because it’s so focused on iterating the desktop version right now. “We don’t want to have a half product on two platforms,” he explains.

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The studio is a prime example of how developers with relatively small user bases can still succeed on the social platform. Even though the company less than a million MAU, its games are still profitable after five years. Teh says a large part of Kano/Apps’ ongoing success is that it has cultivated and maintained a strong relationship with its user base, as well as the fact that it doesn’t aggressively monetize its games.

“Our method is to gather feedback from our users and provide them with the game they want,” he explains. “We spend a lot of effort listening and providing quality customer support with our users. We don’t aggressively monetize people; we’re much more interested in building that long term value for our non-paying player and avoiding the churn and burn rate that other larger companies often have.

“With all these players in the social gaming space that have been burned and put off social games, we want to let them know that we’re here and we’re a developer that listens to users.”

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