MiniClip was built by offering free games to users since 2001. Despite the competition in the rising free-to-play games market, MiniClip CEO Rob Small is optimistic because of the way they built their company.

“We’re not a bunch of analysts who see the game space as an interesting window of opportunity – want to come in, build a business very quickly using someone else’s money and sell it quickly before people can actually realize there’s no substance behind it,” says Small. “In terms of scale we have about 100 million monthly active users across those platforms, and those 100 million users were all acquired through the same methods we used way back when we were setting the business up in the bedroom of the flat.”

“We don’t have a paid advertising model and we don’t have any marketing executives in the company so all of that traffic is through word of mouth. We still believe wholeheartedly that investing money in building better games reaps far better rewards for us than buying users at some of these horrific prices that you hear in the industry now, I think up to $8 a user. Which is just not part of the DNA of our business.”

While MiniClip employs 165 people, many of which are making games, they’re keen to emphasize they’re up for working with anyone. “We have in our catalog of games about 900 in total, and Alex has over the years sourced almost all of those games, and those games have been some built internally, about 10-15 per cent built internally, the rest still sourced from developers all over the globe,” says Small.

“From over 75 different countries now, but we probably, on an ongoing basis, are looking at about 30 different countries at any one time. We have about 80 or so games in the pipeline, in production, at any one time as well,” adds Alexander Williams, MinClip’s head of games. “We’ve always been strong believers that we don’t want to work with people who are any one particular size and shape, we’ll go wherever the talent is. And so for instance if it’s a 10 year old kid that’s making an amazing game, then we’re going to go with that game.”

Interestingly, MiniClip nearly ended up powering Facebook’s game platform, and Small notes (but not bitterly) that it might not have been the best decision. “Ironically very early on when Facebook was a very very small business we actually were talking to them about whether or not we would work with them to power the games part of that platform, and like all small businesses that are growing fast, we found it a very painful process to understand technically how we would go about doing that and we decided not to do that opportunity,” reveals Small. “But we felt that as an owner and an operator of our own platform, and our own users who are ultimately are very loyal to us as a brand it was a mistake for us to pick up all our content and just plonk it on to Facebook. We were just encouraging our users to leave our own platform and cannibalizing our own growth.”

While MiniClip has started to shift to mobile, they’re keen to emphasize that they will continue to focus on unique and innovative games. “There’s a lot of very good mobile developers out there who can create some incredible games, but most of those mobile developers don’t own their own customers. They’re reliant on Apple or Google to feature them, or they’re buying traffic,” says Small. “We’re slightly unique because what we try to create is this strategy where we co-release our mobile and web games simultaneously, so we will actively drive users from our website into Android or iOS app stores. Give the user a nice, entirely free-to-play game on the web, and use that for marketing the entry point, if you like, to sell them into downloading the mobile version.”

“When you think about the move in social and obviously mobile now, everyone’s a gamer. We’ve always believed it, but now everyone is a gamer and everyone is playing on different devices and that’s super exciting,” small concludes.

Source: GamesIndustry International