Gamer-turned-CEO chats about making money from games

It is confirmed. You can make money from game playing.

It is confirmed. You can make money from game playing. Miniclip.com, the self-funded start up has over 400 free games on offer, from single player through to hard-core massive multiplayer games, and nearly 45 million unique users. The business was launched in 2001, with a £40k (AU$90,000) investment by CEO Rob Small and his business partner, and took one year to start paying for itself. It was named this year by Deloitte as the fifth fastest growing UK tech company.

Good Gear Guide talks to Rob Small, the gamer-turned CEO about how Miniclip.com came to be where it is now. Small talks about some of the secrets behind his business, and how you can make money from games. He also offers suggestions to other budding entrepreneurs wanting to start an online business.

What took up your time before you started Miniclip.com?

I was at university doing a management degree.

Do you have a technical background?

I have no specific technical background but have taught myself Flash, HTML and have a working knowledge of all the technologies Miniclip.com utilize in house.

Are you a gamer and if so, what is your favourite game?

Yes I have been an avid gamer since I got a Spectrum ZX 128k on my tenth birthday. Currently my favourite game is Age Of Empire.

What age did you start playing games and which was your first one?

I started playing when I was 8. Pong was my first game.

What gave you the idea for Miniclip.com?

It was clear back in 2001 when we set up Miniclip.com that there was a huge opportunity to build a high quality online entertainment site, to rival offline companies like MTV and Disney.

We knew that first mover advantage would be very important so we focused all our efforts on growing the audience as quickly as possible. Our strategy was to develop topical games around political figures such as George Bush and Tony Blair. These early games like Bush Shoot- Out, Dancing Bush and Bush Aerobics had hundreds of millions of gameplays and helped to publicize the Miniclip.com brand globally. As this content was so viral we were very quickly able to build a large organic userbase all through word of mouth marketing.

Most people back in 2001 were on dial up connections so we had to ensure the content was small in file size and thus easily accessible to all. We were certain that even moving forward there would be a big demand for bite sized browser based entertainment and even today although we have MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing games) and more advanced 3D games there is also a big demand on the site for easy to play, low file sized games.

How difficult is it to start an online business?

There are certainly less barriers to entry on the internet, if you have a good idea there is nothing to stop you setting up a website but for that very reason it's difficult to come up with something that hasn't already been tried before.

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Dahna McConnachie

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