Raf Mertens, Founder

Leuven, Belgium
The CrazyGames team. CrazyGames visuals.
Keeping gaming accessible

In 2013, Raf Mertens was studying computer science at Stanford. At the time, Flash had started its decline, and the future of HTML5 as a gaming technology looked uncertain. As a result, big players such as Miniclip and Kongregate pivoted to mobile apps. In the void they left behind, Raf saw an opportunity to fulfill the remaining demand for accessible games on any device and founded CrazyGames.

From the get-go, Raf wanted CrazyGames to be run with a player-first mentality. “We say that the players know best,” says Raf. “The games we show on the homepage are driven by user engagement above anything else.”

“We've always been focused on casual games that are super accessible,” says Raf. “As such, a paywall would add friction and turn off users. We think it's important that everyone can get entertainment for free.” To achieve this goal, Raf decided an ad-supported model would help him monetize his new site.

CrazyGames on a laptop.
Ad Manager makes the difference

CrazyGames’ monetization is completely centered around Google Ad Manager. Because most companies were very focused on app monetization, there was no existing game monetization solution available. After speaking with other publishers, CrazyGames decided to build its own on top of Google Ad Manager.

Ad Manager’s many features allow them to combine direct campaigns with programmatic demand from different partners smoothly. Open Bidding additionally enables them to access even more demand at the click of a button. Unified Price Floors let them protect their user experience by only showing video ads when high-paying ones are available. They use the statistics and reporting in GAM to improve ad performance as well as user experience, and to maintain a high ad quality.

“We’ve been blown away by Ad Manager,” says Raf. “It’s incredibly powerful for running direct campaigns, achieving great user experience, tracking, and combining different demand sources.”

In addition to all the useful Google Ad Manager features, CrazyGames has been helped massively by Google’s continuous work over the past years to bring together the HTML5 ecosystem through networking events and conferences. At these events, they met some of their best partners including Famobi and CoolGames.

“Today 99% of our revenue is coming from digital advertisements. It has enabled us to start our business and scale it up, creating an ecosystem for game developers, players, and advertisers.”
Growing like crazy

CrazyGames now has nearly 30 million unique monthly players worldwide, who together play close to 300 million games — making it one of the world’s leading browser games platforms. “Today 99% of our revenue is coming from digital advertisements,” says Raf. “It has enabled us to start our business and scale it up, creating an ecosystem for game developers, players, and advertisers.”

Over the past three years, CrazyGames has achieved an annual revenue growth rate of over 100% — more than doubling their business each year. And when the site wins, its partners win too. As part of CrazyGames model, they allow gaming developers to launch games on their site and monetize them. “Each year we pay out millions of euro to game developers in our network,” says Raf.

“It brings us great joy to see game developers making their living through CrazyGames,” says Raf. “We’re bringing both a massive audience and high-yield monetization to game developers while maintaining a good user experience.”

One recent example is UK-based developer Arthur Baker, who developed his first game as a student and published it on CrazyGames. He now runs his own game development company, which builds Bloxd, one of the most popular games on CrazyGames.

Raf has also been able to grow his own team in the process, with a current workforce of 26 people — half of whom are on the product/engineering side, and the other half managing the business.

But Raf is of course most grateful for the people who make the site possible in the first place: the players. He and his team receive fan-mail from gamers who’ve had a blast on the site. Raf says that the best messages are the ones that say CrazyGames has given them a fun way to spend more time with partners, friends, and family. “We’re a player-first site,” says Raf. “So to hear the impact our games are having on our fanbase is just amazing.”

About the Publisher

Raf Mertens is the founder and CEO of CrazyGames, the leading browser games platform. He is fascinated by the evolutions in web technologies that make it possible to offer users a seamless cross-platform playing experience. His favorite game genre is real-time casual multiplayer (often called .io games).
CrazyGames logo.