TinyTap, a Tel Aviv-based platform that allows children to create their own mobile games and “playable” books, is now expanding from the iPad to the iPhone, as it also launches its own social marketplace for apps. Here, users can sell their TinyTap creations to others, or just share them for free. The move comes roughly six months after the company announced its half a million dollar seed round and detailed its plans for this “app store within an app.”
While Apple has long since banned apps mimicking its own App Store, TinyTap’s “app store” shouldn’t be of concern – it’s really more about selling additional content through in-app purchases than it is about promoting applications for profit or to game Apple’s charts, which was the problem Apple had aimed to address.
Instead, users can now build their own games or interactive stories using TinyTap’s various game engines and included content, as well as customize those games with their own photos, camera shots, music, narration and more. For younger children, it’s a small step towards teaching them the concept of how games are made, using simple templates and step-by-step game-building wizards. However, this is no “kids learning-to-code” program, as TinyTap is a visual game builder meant for children ages four and older, to give you an idea of its target market.
But the new TinyTap Social Market is different. The resource is used primarily by teachers and parents to promote their own creations. Since its launch two weeks ago, over 5,000 games have been shared here – 45 percent are English, 25 percent Spanish, and 10 percent are Chinese, the company says. Publishing here is currently free, but may be a paid service in the future.
Users also receive their own profiles to promote their educational games. For example, here’s a school in the U.K. that produced a series of astronomy games; here are games produced by a teacher for assessing visual perception; here are some games in Chinese; and here are Spanish games with original illustrations.
Many of these games today are sold for free, with just a few customers using the in-app purchase option, which has only been available upon review and request, co-founder Yogev Shelly tells us. Kids animation studio TuTiTu is one early adopter, and another for-sale game was built by a baby’s toy company, which Shelly is not permitted to disclose by name. The app review process takes around three days, and the games sell for $0.99+.
Shelly says TinyTap’s install base has just crossed over 200,000 (60 percent active), and has been growing at 500 percent per month. The team hopes this number will now grow further with the official launch of the marketplace and the debut of the iPhone version of the application, he adds.
Also new today is another service that will allow these creators to reach the larger App Store market, by having TinyTap package their game as standalone apps for $199. (More on that here.) While it’s doubtful that such a move would result in the next big kids gaming hit, it could be a good starting point for testing the waters of the larger market before committing to more serious app development, or just for more casual game-development efforts in general.
The updated version of TinyTap, now iPhone-optimized, is available here.