You've probably read plenty of articles in newspapers and other mainstream media, telling you how MMORPGs destroy lives or how gaming makes you a serial killer. What most people fail to understand is that when it comes down to it, MMORPGs (or video games in general) are just like any entertainment medium: you can either use it to better your lives, or completely ruin it – the choice is yours.
Here's the story of a couple who, driven by their love for MMORPGs, started a small hobby that grew into a means of livelihood, and eventually into a lucrative business!
I've met a lot of nice people while playing World of Warcraft and this humble couple was no exception – Justin and Joy are the joint owners/founders of the Ejeet Network, a successful guild hosting company that provides various game-related services to players for a small fee. I was curious to see what drove them into starting such a unique business, and I had a ton of questions on my mind; so I decided to go ahead and interview them. After all, it's always inspiring to read success stories about those who follow their passion. And Justin had some great advice on setting up an online business, so read on...
Me: Hi Justin, tell us a little about what you do for a living.
Justin: My wife (Joy) and I run a small-medium business that provides websites to video gamers; the service is really aimed at MMORPGs right now, but we plan to expand in the future.
Me: What kind of service do you offer, and for which games?
Justin: We offer exclusive guild websites for people from online games to be able to communicate with each other in a realtime environment, and a forum for leaving comments or game plans (for Raids etc.). Right now we offer direct support for World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online and Age of Conan. We do offer a hosting plan that supports any video game, but you'd have to design the site yourself in this case.
Me: Tell us a little about the different plans you have, and how much you charge.
Justin: Well, with our exclusive gaming plans that are tagged for games like (say) World of Warcraft, we offer clients a preloaded website that has everything they need built-in, without any intervention from their end. If the client requests something they feel is left out, we add that at no extra charge.
Right now our cheapest plan is $6.47 a month, which is a promotional plan for the launch of the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, which gives clients a real deal. Our most expensive plan would be WoW Xtreme, which is really loaded with features. This plan costs $14.87, and all plans are on a recurring payment.
Me: What does a guild get when they go for the overloaded plan?
Justin: With Xtreme guild hosting, the overloaded plan, consumers get a traditional webpage that is 100% themed to World of Warcraft, and a DKP system (which stands for Dragon Kill Points and is used for in-game loot distribution) that can be viewed outside of the game, on the website.
Next are our raid planners; with Xtreme you get phpraider, wowraidmanger, and Raid Planner for eqdkp. The raid planners let people sign up for raids outside of the game and allows for detailed planning and class roles to be fulfilled. Also some of these programs have addons that work in the game by pulling data from the website, so it's like a live uplink technology.
We have integrated our websites with Blizzards armory, allowing clients to use the armory directly from their site, so they can look up characters from their own site. They can also access their in-game bank, which acts as a team roster for the guild. Our licensed cPanel allows the user to control advanced aspects of the website, such as FTP connections, databases, web-based file managers, and more. The sky is the limit; there's nothing you can't do.
Me: Basically you offer everything a guild would need (other than the players!) How lucrative and successful has this venture been? And how was it when you started off?
Justin: This venture started off as a hobby, to be honest. We created a few guild websites for friends, for free. One day we had someone contact us after visiting a friend's site; they were so impressed with the website that they wanted to know how much we charge to make one. I was shocked that someone loved our work so much they wanted to pay us to make a website for their World of Warcraft guild! From that point on, we decided to start a small business.
Today Ejeet Networks has grown to be a small-to-medium sized business – we have over 150,000 customers. Only two people work on the main aspects of the website, and a handful of others help with security and billing. More importantly, the venture has provided me and my wife with an income that's substantial enough to let us live without having to work for anyone else. The best part is you get to be your own boss!
Me: That's really awesome! What kind of skill set would one require to start something similar, or any sort of online business?
Justin: You really only need to have a burning passion inside you to start an online business – and a lot of sleepless nights! There's nothing that can stop you from reaching the same place that Ejeet Networks has reached today if you're driven enough.
Me: So how does one go about setting up the basics?
Justin: Setting up the basics is really easy. When you start out, get yourself a PayPal account, or another trusted online merchant that doesn't require the user to share credit card/bank information with you. Payments are accepted in USD; this seems to be the universal currency for the Internet and has nothing to do with being in the US – we live in Canada. There on, you will need to have your idea mapped out either in your head or on paper. You will need to purchase web hosting from someplace or, if you know how, set up your own web server at home (assuming your ISP allows this – mine did not).
Even if your idea's already been done, don't give up. We went head-to-head with some competitors who had millions of dollars in funding, so don't be dismayed. Creating a website is easy for someone who's been trained in PHP or another web language. If you lack the skill you can get many free open-source editors that look like Word applications but make pages in HTML. So don't worry about not knowing HTML/PHP/CSS/Java at this point – you're just starting out!
A word of advice directly from me: customer support is everything. Kindness, understanding, and compassion are needed to establish a good customer relationship; all our clients simply love Joy!
Me: That's a lot of good advice. Thank you for your time Justin! Any parting words?
Justin: Well, this interview has been great, and on behalf of everyone at Ejeet Networks we would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to be interviewed by Tech2.com.
To all those reading who have dreams of running a gaming business, it can be done – all you need is lots of time and effort. Video games are good for business; that's the bottomline. Even major eduction isn't a criterion; I think grade school is needed, but after school is over you do not need to go to a fancy college to become something great in life. I wasted my money with my certifications, and that's a fact! Focus more on developing your skill sets, and not your educational qualification.
Published Date: Nov 11, 2008 11:27 am | Updated Date: Nov 11, 2008 11:27 am