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20-Year-Old Twins Who Created Their First Video Game At 13 Now Each Earn At Least $130k A Year

20-Year-Old Twins Who Created Their First Video Game At 13 Now Each Earn At Least $130k A Year
Matt and Ben (PA Real Life/Roblox)

Identical 20-year-old twin brothers who created their first video game when they were 13 years old are now earning at least $130,000 a year each. They have paid off their parents' mortgage and are financing their siblings' university loans.

Growing up in rural UK, Matthew and Ben Horton turned created their first game together on the Roblox gaming platform, immediately monetizing their achievement. Their sudden windfall meant their parents feared they were drug dealing.

Despite no formal training, the pair became a huge success, dropping out of sixth form and making mega bucks from their games, videos, software and merchandise they have created.

Now living together in West Sussex, UK, they plan to move to the USA and start their own company.

“We have applied for a visa. It would allow us to be where our audience and other developers are," Matt said.

The brothers have always loved games such as the Lego series on PlayStation 2, and when they discovered gaming platform Roblox in 2010 it enabled them to create their own versions.

“It gave access to whacky, interesting creations by hundreds of people. It was a new thing which was fascinating," Matt said.

Matt and Ben (PA Real Life/Roblox)

“For the first three years after finding Roblox, we just played the games. Then in the 2013 Christmas holidays, we started experimenting with creating our own game and that really kick-started our career," Matt continued.

“Roblox has free guides and templates, so anyone – be they aged 10 or 70 – can create games."

The twins are not the only people to have caught the gaming bug, with the industry experiencing a surge in interest since the start of the pandemic.

Matt and Ben (PA Real Life/Roblox)

Newzoo, the leading global provider of games and esports analytics predicts the international gaming market in 2020 will be worth $159.7 billion, up 9.3 percent on last year, with almost half attributable to the mobile market, which is expected to grow to 2.5 billion players this year.

“Engagement with our games has increased by 30 to 40 percent during lockdown," Matt said.

Matt and Ben's first successful game, designed when they turned 13, was called Boat Ride, and required users to navigate a Disney-like world of attractions.

Free to play, the twins quickly found a way to earn $6.60 a day by selling products or optional perks, such as a jet pack to fly around the game, to enhance the experience.

Players can buy items using Robux, Roblox's virtual currency. The game's developer in turn redeems any Robux they earn for real money.

A clip from one of their games (PA Real Life/Roblox)

While Matt taught himself video production, so he could make trailers for the games, Ben learned programming and user interface (UI) design, which made them functional and enjoyable to use.

“When we started we were 13, working nine to five in the Christmas holidays," Ben said.

“We only got about £1 a week pocket money, so that £5 was a lot – it bought about 5,000 marshmallows!"

A clip from a Roblox game created by Matt and Ben (PA Real Life/Roblox)

“We had a lot of tubs of sweets in our room," Ben said.

Keen sportsmen, the twins' would divide their spare time between athletics tournaments, training, schoolwork and all things gaming. Meaning they often went to sleep at 11:30pm, before getting up at 6:30am for school.

Just before they started sixth form, aged 16, they started to turn a real profit, so Matt dropped out of school after two months to do video production full-time, with Ben joining at the end of the academic year.

“I had loads of time to work on new projects and a few months later, I released my most successful project 'The Last Guest', which has been watched for over 25 million hours and had 100 million views on YouTube," said Matt.

“I would not have been able to do that if I hadn't dropped out of school. We didn't have any formal training. We just learned really quickly by ourselves – repeating things and getting better."

Matt and Ben with Rebecca and Edward (PA Real Life/Collect)

“There are so many tutorials online that anyone can teach themselves, you don't need to pay money for courses. Everything can be done in your own free time," Matt said.

“When I showed my dad my income for the first time, he thought I was drug dealing because it was quite a bit of money! He was very surprised."

Ben said his parents, Mark and Caroline, were still skeptical at first, when the twins explained how they had managed to earn so much.

Matt and Ben with their siblings (PA Real Life/Collect)

“They were definitely skeptical about where this money was coming from. I think they thought we were just playing games, but actually we were developing them and learning these skills," he said.

“Now, though, they are very supportive. Our dad is not really techy, but he likes to write, so he's a great person to brainstorm ideas with. Dinner conversations when we lived at home would involve the three of us bouncing ideas back and forth."

But the twins' best brainwaves have come during long bike rides together – including one for Matt's latest project, a 60-minute animated movie called Bacon Hair.

“On one day of brainstorming we went on a really long bike ride. It got to 6pm and we realized we were 80km away from our house," Ben said.

“It was getting really dark and our phones died."

Matt and Ben with Rebecca and Edward (PA Real Life/Collect)

“We weren't very well prepared, but we got so lost in thought and discussion that we ended up miles away from home. We had to follow the road signs all the way back and got home about 5am," he continued.

“But we came up with some really good ideas, so it was very productive!"

As identical twins, the pair tend to think in sync and have worked together for so long that they resolve conflicts quickly.

Matt and Ben (PA Real Life/Roblox)

They both have their own side projects as well as their collaborations – with Matt diverging into creating YouTube videos and animated movies, building his subscribers up to two million.

Meanwhile, Ben created a video game called Guest World, based on a story of Matt's called The Last Guest, which has had 50 million visits.

But one of Ben's most successful creations has been a software application called HD Admin which provides features and commands that other developers can use in their games and has gained two billion visits across their users.

Matt and Ben (PA Real Life/Collect)

Out of the 20 games they have created on the Roblox platform, two major ones, Guest World and Roleplay World, have accumulated a tenth of a billion gaming visits.

Despite enjoying considerable wealth so young, bringing people who play their games pleasure is still their greatest reward, according to the brothers.

“It's really overwhelming to have that many people playing them and to have a community of people asking us for advice, or who are invested in what we do," Ben said.

“Matt started selling plushies, or soft toys, based on his movie 'The Last Guest', so fans send him pictures of the toys and other people will dress up as his characters. That's awesome."

And the whole family have benefited from their financial success.

They have supported their sister Rebecca financially through her travel and tourism degree at the University of Chester and will help their brother Edward, who has just started studying physiotherapy at the University of Worcester.

The boys at Butlins (PA Real Life/Collect)

“We paid for a trip to Florida for the whole family last year," they said.

“We were also able to pay off part of our parents' mortgage. We have the freedom to travel, to explore and to invest in different projects."

A clip from a Roblox game created by Matt and Ben (PA Real Life/Roblox)

“And, despite having different jobs within gaming, we are both earning just above what a senior software engineer is paid – so very low six figures, but building up," he added.

In January, the brothers moved from their Norfolk home to London to work in a shared office space with other game developers.

But when the pandemic hit, they moved again to Crawley, where they intend to stay for the time being before, hopefully, emigrating to Los Angeles, California, where there are more Roblox game developers.

“If we settle there, we can collaborate with people or even set up our own team full-time. At the moment, we commission people but we'd love to have our own team," Ben added.

“Over there, Matt can produce videos quicker, too. Roblox is setting up developer co-sharing spaces in the US, where you can work and collaborate for free."

The boys celebrating their birthday (PA Real Life/Collect)

For now, Matt who cites movie director Christopher Nolan as one of his inspirations, is concentrating on making better quality videos.

“With my previous film, I did all the animation. For my new movie, 'Bacon Hair', I've hired people to work on the animation," he said.

“I want to keep improving and allow my movies to be experienced by different and bigger audiences."

The boys competing in athletics (PA Real Life/Collect)

And, impressed by the way in which other Roblox gamers have built up their companies, Ben hopes he and his twin will do the same.

“We met the developers of a game based on the Titanic sinking at an event. They were our heroes when we started out," he said.

“One company, DocMe has gone from a two person to a 50 person team in two years. It would be great to follow in their footsteps."

And their advice to any budding video game developers is to make sure that they keep a sense of fun.

“Find and discover what makes your game fun. Discover the fun mechanics and develop your game from there," Ben added.

“Also, engage with your community – make an effort to attend events and conferences."

Matt and Ben with Rebecca and Edward (PA Real Life/Collect)

“A great deal of success comes from learning and utilizing the strength of the people around you," they continued.

“Up until high school, we had little idea of what we were doing. Roblox helped us develop our skills and narrow our focus. It's allowed us to do something we're passionate about."

A clip from a Roblox game created by Matt and Ben (PA Real Life/Roblox)

Matt agrees that a passion for making and playing games is essential to success.

“We did all this stuff because we enjoyed doing it. For five years we were not making money, we were expecting to go to university, but then it took off. We're really fortunate," he said.

Roblox Studio is an open-access, free to use platform that offers step-by-step tutorials, templates and online forums to teach kids how to make their own games from scratch and all games are free-to-play. This year, Roblox is on track to pay out more than $250M to the developer community, up from $110M in 2019.

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