Editor’s note: Kibi Games caught our attention because they tried something new. Most KaiOS developers build their apps to fit the full screen of a smart feature phone (240×320). They then monetize through ads that either take up the full screen or appear as rolling banners.
Kibi Cross takes up 80% of the screen and has a rolling banner ad running the whole time. Because of this, it has gained a good number of ad impressions. Also, if you restart the app, you have to see the ad again, which has helped increase the clickthrough rate.
Learn more about Kibi Games, Kibi Cross, and strategies for creating successful mobile games below.
Who’s behind Kibi Games?
Kibi Games is Mala, the designer; Pn, the artist; and me, the programmer. We are all Taiwanese and based in Taipei. We’ve been making games for over ten years.
What’s the story of Kibi Games? Who started it, when, and how?
We’ve known each other for years and worked together in different companies. Three years ago, we teamed up for Adventure Jam, which challenges you to build an adventure game in two weeks. After Adventure Jam, we kept on making games.
What’s a day at Kibi Games like? Do you have an office?
It’s usually pretty busy. We share an office with friends, so besides working on our projects, we sometimes help them with theirs.
Do you work exclusively with mobile games?
We don’t like to limit our platform options. Our primary project right now is on PC. We’ve built web games and console games. We’ve built for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, PS3, and Nintendo Switch. If a platform is appropriate for a game, we’ll give it a try.
What made you decide to build on KaiOS?
We were choosing side projects to work on to increase our visibility and maybe even our revenue. Since we’re a small team, there’s always one primary project we’re all working on together. We don’t have a lot of energy or resources left to dedicate to other large projects. We’d heard about KaiOS and smart feature phones, about how they have small screens and limited performance. We figured that these limitations would help us create games. Since we wouldn’t need to invest a huge effort to build one, we decided to give it a go.
Did you face any challenges? Which?
We build 2D games with GameMaker Studio, a game engine that exports html5 builds via its web module. We couldn’t find any articles or posts about developing for KaiOS with GameMaker, so any issues or questions we had about HTML5 and KaiOS, we had to sort out ourselves.
How did you get the idea to build Kibi Cross?
After we launched our first KaiOS game, Treasures Of Pirates, we got helpful analytics and feedback. We realized it was better to create static games, like puzzles, and that they needed to be fun, playful, and kind of addictive. That’s why we chose the nonogram as a core gameplay to create Kibi Cross.
Kibi Cross is pretty popular right now…
Since it was published on December 17, 2019, it’s gotten around 6 million impressions and 13,000 ad clicks.
Why do you think it’s so popular?
I think the gameplay of the nonogram is very solid, like 2048 and Tetris. It’s challenging and fun. We added many levels to it, too – there are about 300. And there’s the “World’s Best” mode, where players submit their scores to our global leaderboard to compete with one another. All of this makes the game more enjoyable to play.
How do you promote Kibi Cross?
We self-promote like this: all our games read a JSON file we put on our website. When we have a new game out in the KaiStore, a “News” button appears in the title of our games, and players can get more info and images. (More on their strategy below.)
What advice do you have for developers wanting to build apps on KaiOS, especially games?
We suggest going to the KaiOS Webstore to check out all apps in the category you’re going for and exploring similar apps. This will help you create something special. If possible, get a 256MB KaiOS device. The QA team reported that there are issues that only happen on 256MB KaiOS devices. If you can’t get one, you’ll have a little trouble debugging. That’s our case, since we can only buy the Nokia 8110 4G (512 MB) here.
What are you launching next?
The project we’re working on now is called Mountain’s Spirit. It’s a PC game inspired by the Taiwan Black Bear. Our goal is to complete and launch it this year. We’re also sketching our 3rd KaiOS game project.
Interested in building your own KaiOS apps? Head on over to the Developer Portal to get started, or get in touch with Asis at email@example.com for any questions you might have.
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