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Hitting Pay Dirt

In 1997, Her Interactive acquired the Nancy Drew license. "We knew we had a hit," says Gaiser. "New York Times called us the 'un-Barbie' of computer games and we started taking off on Amazon and started winning award after award." Among these honors were repeat Parents' Choice awards.

Without a big publisher, however, Gaiser was subject to the limits of self-publishing, which required marketing and packaging with a small team and no inroads with big retailers. For five years, their main storefronts were Amazon and the Her Interactive website.

Eventually, the press, awards, and sales won the major publishers' attention, too, and by 2002 Nancy Drew was competing for shelf space with the big boys.

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