China-based game development studio TribePlay has raised $750,000 from Dutch and Asian investors to ramp up production of its Dr. Panda educational children’s games. The company is aiming use the funds to produce one title per month in 2013.
Founder Thijs Bosma moved to Shanghai from the Netherlands seven years ago, before eventually moving to Chengdu to set up TribePlay. The company did outsourcing work for Facebook games before creating its first Dr. Panda title earlier this year.
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“Half a year ago, in March, we decided to go for our own products, to go completely mobile. We’ve also decided to go for kids,” Bosma told The Next Web. “The goal of the company is to really establish a kids’ brand for preschool and is at this moment definitely focused on apps.”
Since then, TribePlay has released four Dr. Panda titles, including Dr. Panda’s Restaurant and Dr. Panda’s Hospital. Combined, the titles have garnered more than 1.2 million downloads. The studio’s paid apps have reached the #1 position 47 times across the iOS App Store in the Education and Kids Games sections around the world.
Bosma said working from Chengdu has been a plus for the company, as the costs are cheaper than bigger cities in China and the city has a “big supply” of programmers and 2D and 3D artists.
“I think it’s a very good place to do development to get your people, to keep your people because the competition on human resources is a little bit lower here than in Beijing or Shanghai,” he said. “It’s also the reason we’re working with the the brand-name of Dr. Panda because it’s the home city of the panda.”
Dr. Panda is mostly focused on the international market, though it has seen some success in China. The games are meant to be role-playing experiences that are still accessible to young kids. So, rather than creating alphabet or arithmetic apps, the company goes for deeper gameplay like simulating a doctor helping animals or a cook at a restaurant.
TribePlay plans to pursue a paid app model for its Dr. Panda games, though it does offer free versions of some of the titles and it is looking into merchandising options. Freemium games wouldn’t work for toddler apps, since it’s parents that are buying the app for their kids. The company gets 3-4 times as much revenue from iOS as it does from Android, though Bosma did say that Android is “catching up.”
“Despite the fact that iOS is a better monetizing model, you do see Android growing, but iOS is still responsible for the majority of revenues.”
With 12 games planned for next year and fresh funding that should go a long way out in Chengdu, Dr. Panda’s games don’t seem to be at risk of becoming an endangered species anytime soon.
Image credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP / Getty Images