The Finnish gaming success is not just about the casual games from the likes of Rovio and Supercell. There are other gaming companies that deserve the attention, especially if they also have an added benefit of being education.
For instance there is Beiz, who have created the Lola Panda brand and several games to go with it. The company focuses on pre-kindergarden and elementary school kids, creating games that would aim at providing entertainment and education in one go. The most popular of those is Lola’s Math Train, where you try to drive a train to a party and solve math problems along the way.
All together, the Lola Panda games have passed the one million threshold last year and have since then been growing at a rate of 50-100% per quarter, reaching millions of downloads and over one million a quarter. This might not be a lot if you compare it to Supercell, but keep in mind that these are educational games for kids, so the target market is not quite the same. In addition to that, the business model is premium and not free to play, so all in all – this is very impressive. Especially if you do some multiplication maths of your own.
In terms of activity, just this September, there were five million game sessions and their games have hit the #1 spot in the Chinese markets and in total had more apps in the Chinese top 100 than any other Western developer.
To start things off, the company received €1.5 million from Inventure, a number of Angels and TEKES. Currently they have 20 developers working in Helsinki and Beijing.
According to founder and CEO Mika Heikinheimo, the concept developed after he “was trying to find high quality games for kids and it was difficult. Nothing even half educational. Even casual games are very hard to find for children.” And I can completely stand behind that statement, even though my kid is just one years old but browsing through the app markets – there is very little that I would actually pay for.
Coming back to Beiz, according to Heikinheimo, they are yet to publish any “big games”. That being said, for the past one and a half years, they have been working on a larger title and are hoping to release the game in the first half of 2014, and with that they might start looking at free to play as well. In the end, it is great to see successful gaming companies that provide education in addition to casual entertainment.