Hugely popular games site Miniclip has seen its user base increase from 22m to 35m this year, helped by a redesign and the launch of new services and content. We spoke to founder Rob Small about its future strategy.
Nielsen//NetRatings says you are getting around 1.3m visitors per month from the UK – what figures can you give us on customers, revenues and profitability?
We estimate we have around 4m unique users in the UK and 35m unique users worldwide.
Miniclip.com is currently the internet’s largest website, in terms of unique users, still in private hands. We are in the fortunate position having never needed to take venture capital or other outside investors which has given us the freedom to focus on building our brand.
We have been profitable for the last 5 years.
What’s your outlook for next year?
We expect online games to be even hotter in 2007 and we will be releasing lots of new exciting games.
In addition, as our audience grows globally and with over 98% of our users on broadband we are able to plug in other entertainment channels, most recently cartoons and ecards. Both these channels are an excellent fit with our audience and we are very encouraged by the initial traffic numbers.
You will see more channels plugged in next year, as well as enhanced community features across the site.
How does your revenue break down between licensing, advertising and subscriptions and how do you see that changing going forward?
I am afraid we are not able to divulge our revenue breakdown.
Can you run us through the main aspects of your re-design in the summer, and the reasons behind it?
We relaunched our new website back in July 2006. The new site was re-built from the ground up with a focus on making it easier to navigate and more intuitive to use. A lot of the suggestions came from our users, many of whose requests were incorporated into the new site design.
Some of the main features of the new site included; Game Search, a favorite games list, recent played games, more detailed support and FAQ’s, RSS feeds and optional full games/section lists on every page.
As our user base is so chatty we wanted to offer uses a way of recommending games to their friends adding a selection of ways to share games via email, IM and an easier way to use our copy/paste feature for blogs and websites which we originally introduced back in 2001.
Another factor that influenced the redesign was that we wanted to offer an enhanced environment for advertisers. We developed a new and innovative range of advertising formats including rich media overlays, pre-roll video, homepage takeovers and our unique Advergame buzz campaigns offering tens of millions of plays for an advertiser’s game.
What’s uptake been like of the RSS feeds, and do you have thoughts on any other Web 2.0 type features?
We have been happy with the take up of RSS and we believe that with the release of Vista its usage will continue to grow. In terms of Web 2.0 features we are going to including a lot more community features across the site.
What can you offer to brands and advertisers in terms of advice on advergaming?
Advertisers such as Warner Brothers, Disney, Coca Cola, Gillette, and Starburst run advergames with Miniclip.com and are taking advantage of the incredible opportunities for game players to interact directly with their brands.
Our user base responds very positively to this content and played Gillette’s Jet Ski game more than 80 million times making it the most successful advergame on the Internet.
Interactivity with the elusive younger demographic is achievable on a very large scale with the most expansive online game distribution network and the ability to guarantee an advertiser tens of millions of game plays with unlimited upside potential for their games.
Miniclip.com is a larger website than MTV or any of the “big” companies entering the game sector, so we will simply continue push growth as we have consistently done over the past five years.
Many of the “big” companies have numerous smaller websites which they call their “networks” but they have difficulty promoting any consistent message between them all. The advantage of having large amounts of traffic on one website like Miniclip.com is that it allows us to more easily promote and generate a huge buzz for new games and products.
How often do you receive takeover approaches, and will your ownership structure definitely be the same in six months’ time?
We of course have been contacted by the major buyers you see in the market and by venture capitalists for many years. We do not need outside funding and are too busy working on exciting new products to be thinking about selling at this time.
The sale prices you see now in the market may appear high but you have to take into account that there is only a hand full of websites left in private hands with any significant traffic while at the same time there are more buyers looking to acquire those websites.
What are your plans for other gaming platforms – consoles, mobiles and iTV, for example?
We will soon introduce Miniclip Mobile which will allow Miniclip users to play Miniclip games on mobile phones and allow cross platform multiplayer games via the Internet and Mobile. So you could play a multiplayer game on Miniclip.com against a Mobile phone player or visa versa.
Any plans for further geographic expansion?
We are already the largest online game website in most countries worldwide but we will at some point push into China with via dedicated servers inside the country. We will also be expanding on our existing foreign language support to include Italian, Portuguese, Korean and Chinese.