is a pretty interesting business. It is the largest private gaming portal in the world. Founded in 2000, it is profitable with 120 people in 6 countries, and has never had recourse to external financing. It has 65 million users. And for once, here’s a company that’s very successful at making casual social games – outside of Facebook.
After naming Miniclip one of Europe’s 10 Most Valued Startups, we caught up with co-founder and CEO Rob Small in an exclusive interview to talk about the company and important trends in online games like Facebook and mobile. Here is what we learned:
What does Miniclip do
Miniclip is a games portal. People go to Miniclip.com and play occasional Flash games. The company had its biggest month last December with 65 million unique visitors, Smalls said.
Small threw Miniclip out of his room after leaving college with a friend. Their first match was called Dancing bush, a Flash game where you could make George W. Bush dance to disco music (hey, that was in 2001). Small remembers filming the dance moves with his co-founder on a camcorder in their kitchen. These types of animations and games are common these days, but it was new back then. The game has gone insanely viral and has brought them 2-3 million unique users. Boom! They were in business.
The company has grown enormously since then, mainly thanks to word of mouth and excellent SEO (Miniclip.com is the # 1 result for “games” on Google). They now have 800 games, from fast-paced casual games to massively multiplayer online games for hardcore gamers, and a global network of 200 developers, from hobbyists to businesses, who make games for Miniclip.
How much money does Miniclip earn (and how)
Miniclip, which is profitable from year 1, generated between 20 and 30 million euros in turnover in 2010, Small tells us. Most of this comes from advertising, but the company also sells subscriptions and virtual goods, and bets big on mobile, especially iPhone and Android.
What Sucks (and What Not) About Facebook
It’s refreshing to see a games company that doesn’t want to dive head-first into the Facebook gaming gold rush. Small says he doesn’t want to risk losing his direct relationship with his audience by switching to Facebook, and the switch to social gaming hasn’t really affected them, as they mostly focus on a younger audience. (Most Facebook social game players are middle-aged.)
However, Facebook can be a great source of traffic for them. Like so many other media sites, they add Facebook Connect, they have a huge fan page, and they want to use Facebook to generate traffic. But they don’t bet big on Facebook games, which is quite interesting.
What sucks (and what doesn’t) about Android
Instead, Miniclip bets big on mobile. Small confirmed what we’ve heard everywhere else: Android sucks at getting people to pay for apps. The payment process is too rude.
Miniclip is still going after Android because it’s so huge. So that’s one thing that’s needed for that.
What Sucks (and What Not) About Apple and GameCenter
Apple’s App Store is much better at generating income. The games that will generate the most revenue, however, will be freemium: free play but paid for add-ons. Just like the web.
We also asked about GameCenter, Apple’s social gaming network built into iOS. It’s pretty good and Miniclip uses it because it’s easy to implement and allows for a standardized way to award rewards and unlock achievements which gamers love and makes games stickier. What GameCenter isn’t very good at, what other social networks are good at, is helping games go viral and attracting friends to those games. For that, you still want Twitter and Facebook.
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