Ira Willey (OneMoreLevel) interview

Categories: Interviews

We had last week the opportunity to chat with Ira Willey, the creator of, that was sold in 2005 to Atomic Entertainment. He was kind enough to answer each of our questions in this email interview.

FreeGamesNews: Could you please introduce yourself and give us a quick history on, and your previous games site,

Ira: Sure, I’m 24 and I live in Victoria, BC Canada. I’ve made dozens of websites, some popular, more not…. it’s what I’ve always done and luckily enough it’s helped me avoid getting a real job. In the summer of 2002 I was playing Bejeweled and realized how popular these little browser games were becoming. I put together a list of the games, all on one page, with thumbnails. Apparently this had never been done before and the site took off. I went through about 5 webhosts in 6 months the traffic was doubling so fast. When I was approached to sell AddictingGames in 2005 it had about 700,000 uniques a day and was still growing. I wasn’t hosting any games on my server any more, I simply linked them in the weekly update. It instantly killed every site I linked, much like Slashdot used to do when it was still popular. AG got too big to handle and became more work than fun so I decided to let it go. It is #1 on Google for “games” and “flash games” which still blows my mind.

FreeGamesNews: You wrote that was sold in March 2005 and the deal was announced in November: what happened in the meantime?

Ira: AddictingGames has actually been sold twice since I sold it in March. First to Atomic Entertainment and then to MTV in a package deal. Lots of bigger fish snapping up the smaller fish. It’s crazy how much money is pouring into the whole “Web 2.0” era.

FreeGamesNews: When did you decide to create OneMoreLevel and why a second games portal?

Ira: I enjoyed the work and wanted to still manage a website, but a smaller one. I am also a flash game developer (still a newbie) so I have some original games of my own that I wanted a place to promote.

FreeGamesNews: How did you manage so far to increase your traffic without using affiliates program?

Ira: My traffic is mostly return visitors. I don’t use popups or excessive ads and keep the layout clean, so when I do get visitors they stay. I buy links on other sites occasionally but my main source of traffic is from original games. Ninja Rinseout for example is responsible for doubling my traffic to OneMoreLevel. In a matter of days every other Flash game site had “borrowed” it and the “Play More Games” link embedded sent a lot of hits my way.

FreeGamesNews: Talking about traffic, can we have an idea of your monthly traffic?

Ira: I get about 100,000 uniques a day.

FreeGamesNews: How do you manage all that traffic, especially to avoid down times?

Ira: A friend of mine (complex) manages the servers and I yell at him on IRC whenever something goes down…. which seems to happen a lot lately.

FreeGamesNews: There are today thousands and thousands of online games sites, with more opening every day: how do you imagine the online gaming business in two or three years?

Ira: I can see a lot more big companies taking advantage of the Flash game medium to promote their products. Nintendo just released a flash game for instance. It’s already becoming commonplace for movies to have viral flash games as part of their site. I also predict we’ll see more Flash based MMOs as they are very accessible and fast to play (World of Flashcraft?).

FreeGamesNews: What advice would you give to someone who wants to create his own games portal?

Ira: The market is very saturated right now and I think the only way to separate yourself from the pack is original games. A single hit game can have a huge increase on your traffic. for example became an overnight success with Bowmaster. Also make a site that YOU would want to bookmark and visit again.

FreeGamesNews: Anything else to add in closing?

Ira: Addicting isn’t a word in the context I used it. I feel proud thinking about how many kids that go to my old site are getting in trouble in class for misuse of the word. To me, that is my greatest accomplishment. I tried to buy shortly after I launched but he wasn’t interested.

Thanks for the interview!

Eric (FreeGamesNews Editor): Thanks a lot Ira for your time and all the best for OnemoreLevel in 2007 ;-)


10 Comments to Ira Willey (OneMoreLevel) interview

  1. Nathan says:

    Hi, i just love for it’s simplicity and usefulness and especially the non-existence of advertising, so i just wanted to say thanks for all the great games and have a successful new year to FreeGamesNews and OneMoreLevel!

  2. thehound says:

    merry christmas great game site maker HOHOHO!

  3. Ciaran says:

    i love, simply because it doesn’t annoy you with lots of advertising and a new game comes every week day – it’s brilliant!!! have a brilliant christmas onemorelevel!!!

  4. bob joe says:

    i love ur website

  5. harri xox says:

    i love onemorelevel its great i check it every day 4 new gamez!

  6. schneeblefish says:

    onemorelevel’s a great site (its my homepage), i just hope u get updating it again :-)

  7. George McG says:

    OneMoreLevel is excellent! Clean layout, not many annoying adverts, and a pretty good games rate, unless you spend hour upon hour playing.

    You must have raked it in having sold Addicting Games, well done!

  8. Daniel says:

    Dude i check onemorelevel to see any of the new games and then…. I PLAY EM

  9. joe kindle says:

    hey waz up i love ur site it keeps me from being bored when im not doing something else :) thanks for making it

  10. Harpish says:

    This guy has got to be very savy – he’s got 2 well known sites under his belt that I use. Surely in the next few year he is going to be a rich list millionaire types.