Cheat Code Central is now 20 years old! That is an eternity on the internet. It is quite a milestone in itself, let alone for a completely independent site, to be able to survive and thrive for 20 years. It definitely hasn’t been easy and only grows harder as the internet continues to constantly change and evolve.
I am very thankful to all the people that have supported us through the years. I know there are still people regularly visiting the site that were visiting it when we first started back in 1997. There have been almost one billion different people who have used the site in the past 20 years. I am very proud of that accomplishment.
We have been able to successfully bring millions of pages of gaming information and help to hundreds of millions of people over the past 20 years and make their gaming experiences much more enjoyable. We have saved gamers countless hours trying to beat games and unlock important items in them. We are a nostalgic part of many people’s childhood memories. We are forever a part of the early days of the internet. My life has been built around Cheat Code Central, and it will forever define me. Thank you all so much for being a part of it.
As we celebrate 20 very successful years on Cheat Code Central, I would like to tell you all about how this all began. Very few people actually know the full story about how I started this site and how it almost ended just one year after its creation.
When I started Cheat Code Central 20 years ago, I was only 16 years old and a junior in high school. I knew nothing about starting a website, and I definitely never could have imagined what laid ahead of me.
I decided to found Cheat Code Central because I knew I could create a better cheat codes site than the ones already on the net. Back in 1997, the internet was still a very new place. Even though I didn't know anything about creating a website, I decided to give it a try and teach myself. I started Cheat Code Central back on May 9, 1997 as a hobby, since I was so into video games.
As I learned HTML and built the site, I thought I could try to use it as a learning tool to teach myself enough about HTML and Java to start designing websites as a full-time job once I graduated high school. That was my plan for the first year.
It originally started out as a small site on Geocities. Over the first year, I tried to bring as much traffic as possible to the site. After that year ended, the site was getting approximately 1,000 visitors a day. I was very excited to be getting that much traffic after only a year of trying very hard to build awareness. I was then listed in the Yahoo directory in May 1998. It was a huge deal when Yahoo added you to its directory back then, as it was guaranteed to send a pretty sizable amount of additional visitors to your site.
The site began getting approximately 2,000 daily visitors after the Yahoo listing. I was so excited, I thought I needed to move the site to a shorter URL and started spending even more time making it bigger and better. I decided to move the website to Simplenet in June 1998. (My URL was cheatcodes.simplenet.com.) I decided I was going to try to start generating some income from advertising on my site. I started running some banner ads where I was paid per click. I was able to generate enough income from that to pay for the Simplenet hosting costs of Cheat Code Central.
I started redirecting traffic from the Geocities site over to http://cheatcodes.simplenet.com around the middle of June 1998. However, after just a few days of redirecting people to my new Simplenet site from Geocities, something tragic happened and put me at the most important crossroads in my life.
Geocities deleted my website because I was redirecting people from Geocities over to my new website at Simplenet, which they said was against their "Terms of Service." This type of redirection was common practice on Geocities. Several days after my website was deleted, I found out one of my competitors had notified Geocities about my redirection. It is unlikely Geocities would have chosen to take action against me if it weren't for his complaint. To add insult to injury, this competitor got my Geocities URL and started redirecting traffic to his own website.
I was extremely devastated when I found all of this out. I had spent over a year trying to build my website, finally getting 2,000 daily visitors, and now I was down to around 50 daily visitors because most people still didn't know my new URL. Yahoo was still sending people to my old URL. I was very close to just giving up and discontinuing the website. I thought about it for a few days, then decided I couldn't give up and had to continue no matter what. I was now more determined than ever to create the best cheat codes site and make it popular.
For the rest of June 1998, I worked around the clock trying to get more traffic to my site. I had to figure out how I could get as many visitors as quickly as possible. I tried to get Yahoo to change the URL they had listed for my site in their directory, but they took over a month to make the alteration. (At the time, I didn't know if they would ever correct the link.) However, I knew Yahoo was the answer to getting a lot of that traffic back and possibly hit even greater heights. I also knew that Yahoo was listing some terrible cheat sites in their directory that didn't even deserve to be there. So I decided to start a few new cheat code sites at free website hosting companies like Geocities and Angelfire. I made each one a little different and gave them unique names like "Cheat Palace."
I submitted these sites to Yahoo for approval in their directory, then waited weeks and hoped they would be approved. In July 1998, not only did my old listing get changed to my new URL, but a few of the other sites I submitted to Yahoo were also approved. I then redirected those sites over to my cheatcodes.simplenet.com URL. By the end of July, I was getting approximately 7,000 daily visitors. It was a huge turnaround from June and a massive success. I couldn't believe what had happened and how much traffic I was getting.
With the amount of traffic coming in, I figured I could maybe start earning a decent income from advertising and possibly make this a full-time job instead of designing website or entering another field. At the end of July 1998, I started running banner ads on my site from a company called Flycast. I really hoped I could make enough from running ads on my site to generate enough income to allow me to run my site full-time.
In August 1998, I spent almost every waking hour trying to add as much content as possible and make Cheat Code Central even better. My traffic grew to around 10,000 daily visitors in August. At the end of August, my Flycast report said I earned a few thousand dollars. I couldn't believe it and neither could my parents, who I still lived with. This was much more money than I had ever earned in my life. However, there was a catch. I had to wait until November before I received the check.
Since all of this was so new, I really wondered if I would ever receive that check. It seemed too good to be true. My parents doubted I would ever get paid that kind of money. In September 1998, my traffic and revenue grew even more. The trend continued in October. As I waited for that first check, I just kept working around the clock trying to improve Cheat Code Central and kept making it better. In October 1998, I decided to finally acquire the CheatCC.com URL, so the site had a shorter URL and was even more professional and legitimate.
When November rolled around, I was checking the mailbox every day hoping I would get that check from Flycast for my August revenue. When it finally came, it was for the exact amount they reported. I went to the bank, cashed the check, and that is when I knew all of this was for real. I knew all of my hard work was finally paying off and that I could actually run Cheat Code Central as a full-time job.
From there, the site has just continued to grow, and that has made me jwork harder to keep making it better and better. Today, Cheat Code Central is still the most popular independent game site and gets millions of visitors monthly. I still fully own and operate the website 100% independently. I have a small number of freelance writers and independent contractors that help me to maintain the website. We are the last large independent video web site left on the net, as everyone else has either shutdown or sold their site to a large corporation. We are still one of the most popular video game sites on the net, which is a huge accomplishment in itself since we have nowhere near the resources or money at our disposal as our competitors.
This all happened because of a dream. I dreamed back in 1997 that I could run a popular video game site of my own, and that is what I am doing today. I had no education or training related to building a website, driving traffic to a website, generating income from a website, running a successful business, and the many other skills that came along with making Cheat Code Central what it is today. It's hard to explain, but one day I didn't have the skills needed to do all of this, and then the next day I did. All I can attribute this to is God. There is absolutely no other way to explain it, especially if you could have witnessed everything that has happened over the years and the unbelievable success I have been blessed with.
I would like to thank all of our loyal visitors that have helped to make Cheat Code Central so prosperous over the years. If it weren't for you, Cheat Code Central would never be the success it is today. I hope you continue to enjoy the last major independent video web site left on the net. I hope Cheat Code Central has many more successful years, and you are all still visiting the site and enjoying it when we are celebrating our 25th anniversary. Happy Birthday, Cheat Code Central!
Thank you all again for your support,
CEO / Owner / Code Content Director