What does it take to create great products for kids? Dedication, imagination and a commitment to providing kids with engaging content that helps them learn and develop. Mantas Kavaliauskas is a veteran in the kids tech space, for over 7 years his company has provided tech products for kids, and now he is leading a team that brings some of the most popular mobile games to kids.
TutoTOONS has over 70 million downloads, with more than 1.5 million game plays every day. Mantas spoke with us about how he lead his company, TutoTOONS, from a small game developer studio to a growing community that enables non-programmers to create games, and what it takes to create great apps for kids.
Give us the elevator pitch for TutoTOONS
TutoTOONS is a platform for artists and illustrators to make games without coding. We work with a different market than other game studies because you prepare your own graphics, and the game is built without coding.
We started the platform 2 years ago, with the goal of removing the development aspect and have been publishing games for one and a half years. Currently there are 160 games published on the App Store, Google Play and Amazon.
What was your inspiration for founding TutoToons?
TutoTOONS was established 7 years ago as a game development studio dedicated to educational games. All primary schools in Lithuania use our educational tools, and as we were looking for a way to get into the global market mobile became popular. So we pivoted our focus to the TutoTOONS development platform.
What’s important to keep in mind when creating a product for kids?
Games for kids should be easy. Many game designers think that games should evolve and get more complicated as you progress in levels. Kids like staying in the same level, and we find that if you create 5 mini games in an app at the same level they keep playing.
It’s also important to keep the game fun, with crazy things like sounds, or animals doing strange things they don’t do in real life. Graphics are very important, our tool takes care of the game mechanics, so the more time you spend on graphics the better the results are for your game.
What are goals and challenges in developing for kids?
How to make a game that is interesting to kids, when you are not a kid. It’s important to get into the mind of kids. We’ll look at trends, such as movies coming out. If Disney is showing movies with bears in the north, and putting advertising money into the movie this indicates these topics will be big with kids.
Now let’s get personal. What was your favourite game as a kid?
The classics – PacMan, Super Mario, Prince of Persia and Doom.
What’s your favorite TutoTOONS game?
I really like Jungle Animal Hair Salon, which is on the 3rd version now. You can do fun things that you can’t do in real life, like shave the legs of a giraffe.
What are your favorite games for kids, that aren’t TutoToons?
I really like Tocca Bocca electronic toys. They give freedom to kids, and I enjoy building and adding components.
What do you do, when you’re not at TutoTOONS?
I enjoy sailing, surfing, snowboarding, and kiteboarding. In Lithuania we also have snow ice kiting in the winter.
What advice can you give to developers who are starting out?
Start doing things. Keep working every day toward your goal or idea. Keep on imagining and dreaming, and it will help you succeed. It took 7 years for us to be profitable, and it is important to keep going.