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FiveMinuteMystery – a pirate tale

By on November 26, 2008 is a new website launched last month and profiled by TechCrunch.

It’s a pretty low-tech game. Every day, a 1,200 word mystery appears in your inbox. There are four or five suspects, one guilty party and the text contains clues that exonerate or incriminate. Users log in, identify who they think are guilty and highlight the text that they think contains the clues.

The core target market is US high schools, although I think the appeal could be much wider. The service costs $19.95 a year. The company is pursuing an innovative affiliate scheme which focuses on the fundraising market: think raffles and Girl Scout cookies but online. For every user who signs up through this scheme, 5minmystery gives $10 of the subscription to the fundraising team. Beats having to stand on a miserable street corner outside Asda shaking a tin.

I wonder whether this kind of business counts as a casual game?

Disclaimer: I should declare an interest here. One of my stories – Violating the Pirate Code – was published by 5minutemystery today. If you like the idea of this site, you can visit and register. I’ll get a 50% cut of your subscription. If you want a 3 day trial, drop me a line and I’ll give you the promotional code. (Please do register through if you are going to, otherwise I don’t get a cut.)

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: