Ian is the founder and owner of Marapets which has been online since 2004, and we had the chance to chat with Ian for a little while, and here's what he had to say:
Some people hate Marapets for the ads, why did you decide to bring ads to Marapets? Can you tell us why ads are important for any true business owner?
Ads provide steady, reliable, predictable income. When we started in 2004 the internet was unpredictable and changing fast and for me to make big decisions and to do risky investment i needed some stability. Those who are pissed off by ads just adblock all sites anyway, and others ignore them. You don't open a newspaper and cut out all of the ads before you read it.
One of your competitors, Subeta claims to be the second "largest pet site", and yet, Marapets has near 5 million members. How do you feel about this claim?
I don't have any feelings about it. Don't know or care much about them or any other site. I prefer to just get on with my work and get stuff done. While others are talking, I'm working.
I don't have competitors. Only competition I have is with myself to keep outdoing myself in terms of new features and work.
How do you feel about Neopets? Do you feel that they're one of your competitors, or no?
I don't think they are a competitor because they're different from us. They are a billion dollar corporation that got so huge through investors. We have no investment other than what we earn each month through site income.
In terms of account security, how does Marapets protect its users?
We log everything a user does. And that means everything. Every item on the site an admin can click and watch every single movement that item has done since it was created. The same applies to pets. Information is the key. If someone is scammed, we can fix it. Ask any marapets player about being scammed our account safety and you'll only receive good feedback.
Here's an example of my account, cpvr:
remember the Equilor Amulet you bought from nilabygirl for 449MP on 14th Sep 2009 04:16 PM??? or the 5th Birthday Cake you bought on the 11 march from minnwild07? Well he bought it from Insane_Vampire on 23rd Feb 2011.
Our logs show us everything and go back to 2006
You sold a lot of
crystals for 2,000MP on 14th Sep 2009 04:43 PM
Your art differs from other pet sites, but then again, content is what Marapets strives for - do you feel that your art style doesn't matter?
I'm happy with it. Yes it could be better and some of it does need a revamp, but it has never held us back. Looks aren't everything... I would have thought most virtual pet players would understand that.
Marapets currently offers 152 games and 51 flash games - are there any plans for more flash games?
Eventually. They were fun to work with but took too much time and gave me more trouble then they were worth in the long run. New players love them but once you've played them a couple times they get boring quick - same with all flash games. And I think 51 is enough for new players to enjoy.
How old were you when you created Marapets? How old are you now?
Since Marapets opened in 2004, Ian created Marapets at the age of 14, possibly going on 15. He's 22 now.
I get bored easy so with making Marapets I liked to keep the news interesting. Everything had to make sense and be released for a reason and I tried not to make predictable news. I guess that helped keep people interested.
How much traffic does Marapets currently receive on a daily basis?
Between 75,000 and 250,000 vists by 50,000-175,000 uniques. Approx 8,000-20,000 registered users login each day.
The highest we have had we had was 411,596 visits by 243,715 uniques.
Which had an online count of 3,640 at its peak with 39,405 players logged in that day.
We do between 3 and 6 million pageviews a day, but had a peak of 12.5 milllion once before.
What made Marapets have so users online that day?
it was back when credit was cheap, advertising was cheap and before the recession hit and people had more disposable income to spend online. We had a lot of money for investment and a good return on it. Marapets is 7 years old, look back over the years at the cost of living, price of oil, etc and you'll see the trend pretty much follows marapets online count haha
How do you feel about Facebook and Twitter? Do you use these networks much to post Marapets updates?
I don't understand twitter but we have a facebook page. I don't really see them being connected much more than that. Facebook is personal and Marapets is a virtual online game. I don't think the 2 mix.
In terms of activity, and traffic, what year do you think was the best for Marapets? Do you think its possible to surpass those stats of before?
The 2007-2008 was our best year for activity and traffic growth, but we reached the peak we could handle and it cost us a lot to upgrade/reprogram and keep it sustainable. We can now handle this traffic and some so it will be possible to surpass those stats.
Do you feel if Marapets opened before 2004, do you think it would be as successful as it is today?
No I don't think it would be. I'm a different person now to what I was 7 years ago. I've been working on Marapets for a third of my life. When I was younger I would never ever give up and thought I could do anything no matter what the consequences. I was a child when I started, a teenager when it grew big and now I'm an adult that wouldn't be able to take the same risks.
Looking back at Marapets, what is one thing that makes you so proud?
That a small group of people from all around the world could work together to create something that millions have viewed and that has changed thousands of peoples lives. Laimay and I worked together for 3 years before we even knew what we both looked like!
What do you do for Marapets for those that don't know? What's your job?
I do all of the programming, server and network set up and maintenance, database setup and maintenance, the planning and organising and manage/release everything - even the news updates. Laimay draws what I tell her to draw. And the rest of the staff are mods and admins, who look after the site's users and offer support and moderation.
How do you feel about pet site owners who try to become internet celebrities? Do you feel that this is annoying?
Some pet site owners do seem to want to be famous or popular by running a pet site which I find really pathetic, especially when they create websites, blogs and videos all about themselves. I don't realy understand why anyone would do it other than to recreate themselves online because their life offline is sad. I like to keep as much of my offline life private and while I am online I just get on with my work on Marapets. It doesn't annoy me, but I don't really understand it.