My Week: Oli Christie of Neon Play

Gaming entrepreneur Oli Christie has had quite a week: a cameo on BBC 2 and a pool party round Lord and Lady Bathurst's for starters. Here's a sneak peek into life at the code-face of Neon Play.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

As it turns out, this has been a pretty interesting week for me. I was on telly yesterday, speaking on the BBC 2 Politics Show about growth businesses and the mobile games industry – something I know a bit about as the founder of Neon Play. It’s not every day you have to go down to Westminster for a live broadcast so I was a tad nervous. The slot was only six minutes and, after being assaulted with a powder puff in make-up, I was on, vying with two other guys to make short, succinct and lucid answers that did my company proud.

From TV Thursday to Frisbee Friday: I’m taking the team out for a mini sports day this afternoon. We rent our office space in Cirencester from Lord and Lady Bathurst and our back door literally opens out into their huge, beautiful gardens. We invited them to our second birthday party back in June and Lady Bathurst, an avid tweeter, posted a tweet saying ‘Neon Play is the coolest company in Gloucestershire. I wish I could work there.’ I said, if you let us play Frisbee in your garden, you’re hired. So, this afternoon, they are making us lunch, we’re playing games in the garden and going for a dip in the pool. That’s the life!

But I don’t want to give you the impression that life is all garden parties and chat shows. Most days, I’m in work by 8:30, home by 6:30 to put the kids to bed, then straight on a Skype call with our customers in the US. We’ve usually got about four of five games in the making at any one time (we tried ten once but that was a bit too manic) and, as one of the ideas men of the business, I like to be involved in them all, suggesting tweaks or coming up with new characters. Unlike many games makers, we don’t do any gun-for-hire work. Making our own games, the revenue potential is never-ending rather than a capped fee from a client.

Our games are doing pretty well too. A simple benchmark for a successful game is at least one million downloads. We’re at 42 million downloads for our games now. Our latest one, Traffic Panic London, has been downloaded four million times in two months. And that’s without us spending millions on advertising. In contrast, some of the big Japanese companies are spending $1-$2 per person to download a game and losing money while doing so.

The market is getting increasingly competitive. If we’d started today, it would have been nearly impossible to make an impact. But we’ve had a few lucky breaks. Last year, Apple ran a countdown to its 10 billionth download. Our game, Paper Glider, was the 10 billionth! We were only eight months old and on the map. But it’s important not to get complacent so this year, we decided to do a huge social media push. In the past two months, we’ve grown our Twitter followers from 5,000 to 55,000, and our Facebook likes from 100,000 to 250,000. As a small business, you need all the free marketing you can get. Speaking of which, I was very lucky to be somehow named the Business Person of the Year in Cirencester and the local press want a snap. Now where’s that powder puff...?!

Find out more about Neon Play

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