Miniclip is a pretty interesting company. It’s the world’s biggest private games portal. Founded in 2000, it is profitable with 120 people in 6 countries, and never took outside funding. It has 65 million users. And for once, here’s a company that’s very successful making casual social games — outside Facebook.After we named Miniclip one of the 10 most valuable startups in Europe, we caught up with co-founder and CEO Rob Small in an exclusive interview to talk about the company and important trends in online gaming like Facebook and mobile. Here’s what we learned:
What Miniclip does
Miniclip is a games portal. People go to Miniclip.com and play casual Flash games. The company had its biggest month last December with 65 million unique visitors, Smalls said.
Small started Miniclip out of his bedroom out of college with a friend. Their first game was called Dancing Bush, a Flash game where you could make George W. Bush figure dance to disco music (hey, it was 2001). Small remembers filming the moves to the dance with his co-founder a camcorder in their kitchen. These types of animations and games are common nowadays but it was new then. The game went incredibly viral and brought them 2-3 million unique users. Boom! They were in business.
The company has grown hugely since then, mostly through word of mouth and great SEO (Miniclip.com is the #1 result for “games” in Google). They have 800 games now, from quick 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 Miniclip makes (and how)
Miniclip, which has been profitable from year 1, generated between 20 and 30 million euros in revenue in 2010, Small told us. Most of that comes from advertising, but the company also sells subscriptions and virtual goods, and is betting big on mobile, especially iPhone and Android.
What sucks (and what doesn’t) about FacebookIt’s refreshing to see a games company that doesn’t want to dive headfirst into the gold rush of Facebook gaming. Small says he doesn’t want to risk losing their direct relationship with their audience by shifting to Facebook, and the shift to social gaming hasn’t really affected them, because they’re mostly focused on a younger audience. (Most players of Facebook social games are middle-aged.)
Facebook can be big as a source of traffic for them, however. Like so many other media sites, they’re adding Facebook Connect, they have a huge fan page, and they want to use Facebook to drive traffic. But they’re not betting big on Facebook games, which is pretty interesting.
What sucks (and what doesn’t) about Android
Instead, Miniclip is betting big on mobile. Small confirmed what we’ve been hearing pretty much everywhere else: Android sucks at getting people to pay for apps. The payment process is too unpolished.
Miniclip is still going after Android, because it’s just so huge. So that’s one thing it’s got going for it.
What sucks (and what doesn’t) about Apple and GameCenter
Apple‘s app store is much better at driving revenue. The games that are going to generate the most revenue, however, are going to be freemium: free game but charge for add-ons. Just like the web.
We also asked about GameCenter, the social network for gaming Apple baked into iOS. It’s pretty good and Miniclip uses it, because it’s easy to implement and allows for a standardized way to give out awards and unlock achievements, which gamers like and makes the games stickier. What GameCenter’s not too good at, which other social networks are good at, is helping games spread virally and attracting friends to those games. For that you still want Twitter and Facebook.
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