Jagex

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Jagex Games Studio
Type Private
Industry
Founded December 2001 (2001-12) (used as a trading name since 1999)[1]
Founders Andrew Gower, Ian Gower, Paul Gower, Constant Tedder
Headquarters St John's Innovation Centre, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom[1]
Key people
  • Mark Gerhard (CEO and CTO)[2]
  • Riaan Hodgson[3]
  • David Solari[4]
  • Alex Horton[5]
Products
Revenue Increase £45,345,000 (2011)
Operating income Decrease £10,658,000 (2011)
Employees 480+[6]
Website www.jagex.com

Jagex Games Studio, based in the St John's Innovation Centre in Cambridge[7] and usually referred to as Jagex, is the UK’s largest independent developer and publisher of online games.[8] It is best known for RuneScape, the world's largest free-to-play MMORPG.[9] The company's name comes from its original slogan, "Java Gaming Experts".

In addition to RuneScape, Jagex has released 43 casual games on its FunOrb portal[10] and published several independently developed titles.[8]

Jagex has over 480 employees[6] who provide content development, employee management, and customer support in house.[1]

Corporate history[edit]

After initially creating the Jagex name and logo for their projects, Andrew Gower and Paul Gower began trading under the Jagex name in 1999,[11] describing Jagex Software as a "small software company based in England who specialise in producing top-quality Java-games for webpages."[12] That same year they began work on the MMORPG RuneScape, which was released in January 2001. In December 2001, Andrew Gower, Paul Gower, and Constant Tedder launched Jagex in its current incarnation, with Tedder as its CEO.[13] Jagex Ltd formally acquired the Jagex name from Andrew Gower in 2001.

An early Jagex logo

RuneScape grew dramatically; one year after its release over a million free accounts had been registered. The game was originally supported by advertisements, however, the Dot-com bubble meant that there were fewer advertisers willing or able to sign with Jagex. One of the first tasks of the new company was to create a paid version of the game with extra features, to support hosting costs and continued development. This was achieved on 27 February 2002 when the pay-to-play version of RuneScape was released. It gained 5,000 subscribers in the first week, making it one of the largest Java pay-to-play games in the world at the time.[13]

Until the release of War of Legends in 2010, the company used the slogan "Java Gaming Experts" as it had only produced games written in Java up to that point. Following the launch of the Flash-based War of Legends, the company name was said to stand for "Just About the Game Experience".[13][14][better source needed]

Employees[edit]

As RuneScape gained users, Jagex grew its employee base. By 11 December 2003, RuneScape had 65,000 paying members, and Jagex had 29 employees.[15] On 4 May 2007, RuneScape had over 6,000,000 active free accounts and over 1,000,000 active pay-to-play subscribers.[16] In July 2012, Jagex had over 500 employees.[17]

Investors and management[edit]

On 23 October 2007, Geoff Iddison, former European CEO of PayPal, replaced Constant Tedder as CEO in order to "accelerate international growth." Iddison resigned as CEO in January 2009, and was replaced by Mark Gerhard, who had been Jagex CTO before his appointment.[8]

Jagex received an investment from Insight Venture Partners in October 2005, before which the company had been self-funded.[18] In December 2010 The Raine Group and Spectrum Equity Investors invested in Jagex, while Insight increased their investment.[8] Andrew Gower, Paul Gower and Constant Tedder left the board of directors at that time.[19] In January 2012, Insight increased its stake in Jagex from 35% to 55%, giving it a controlling interest in the company.[20] However, in an interview, Gerhard stated that Insight took their 55% stake 13 months prior in December 2010.[21] On 11 September 2014, Mark Gerhard announced his resignation from Jagex by 2015.[22]

Finances[edit]

In 2010 the company turned over revenues of £44,520,000 and operating profits of £18,794,000. In 2011 revenue increased by 2% to £45,345,000, but profit decreased by 43% to £10,658,000. This was attributed to "increased investment in the new games [ War of Legends ] as well as the marketing activities that were accelerated during the financial year."[7] In 2012 Jagex's turnover rose above £50 million for the first time in the company's history.[23]

Publishing and acquisitions[edit]

In 2010 the Jagex Publishing division was launched with the release of War of Legends. The company has stated that it has "ambitious plans to release multiple titles from third-party developers."[14]

On 26 July 2010, Jagex bought the game Planetarion from Renegade Games, who had themselves bought the rights in February 2009.[24]

In August 2010, Jagex acquired the technology and assets of Undercroft, a mobile game developed by Prague-based Rake in Grass.[25]

On 10 May 2011, Jagex announced that it had formed a partnership with New York-based media company Herotainment to publish Herotopia, a superhero-themed MMORPG targeted towards children.[26] The game was published on 25 May 2011.[27]

On 1 November 2012 it was announced that Jagex would publish the sandbox game Ace of Spades.[28]

Other media[edit]

On 25 July 2008, Jagex released its first novel - Betrayal at Falador,[29] written by T.S. Church. A sequel, Return to Canifis, was released on 24 March 2011.[30] A third book, Legacy of Blood, was released on 19 June 2012 [31]

The Financial Times reported in April 2011 that the possibility of a RuneScape movie being developed in partnership with Hasbro Studios was being explored.[32]

Membership and industry organisations[edit]

Jagex became a member of TIGA, the United Kingdom's game developer trade body, on 15 April 2009. Richard Wilson, TIGA's CEO, described Jagex as "one of the most successful game developers in the world, not just the UK. Jagex has developed extraordinarily popular games and is at the leading edge in terms of online safety and security."[33]

Jagex has also collaborated with iCould, a career development organisation project, and several members of staff have appeared in videos on their website.[34]

Exhibitions and conferences[edit]

In 2008 Jagex began attending a number of gaming conventions and exhibitions, both to show off its products and to give keynote speeches. Events it was present at included E3,[35] the Leipzig Games Convention, and the Virtual Worlds Forum.[36]

Awards and accomplishments[edit]

Jagex has received recognition and awards in a number of areas. In 2007 it was ranked 59th in the Sunday Times '100 Best Companies to Work For' list, and ranked 87th in 2008.[37]

In 2008 the company took 3rd place in the Develop Conference Pub Quiz.[38] It was also listed in the "Red Herring top 100 Europe" awards.[39]

In 2009 Jagex was ranked as the 29th "Most Successful Game Studio in the World" by Develop magazine.[40] It also won the "Best Desktop Game Project" award at the Duke's Choice Awards,[41] the Golden Joystick award for "Best UK Developer",[42] and was listed in the Deloitte Awards "Technology Fast 50".[43] The company also gained its first Best Company "One to watch" award,[44] which it also achieved in 2010 and 2011.

In 2010 the company received the Golden Joystick award for "Best UK Developer" for a second year.[45] It also won "Business of the Year" in the Cambridge News Business Excellence Awards,[46] the "Private Company of the Year" award at the East of England Business Awards, and was listed in the Deloitte Awards "Technology Fast 50" for a second year.[47] The company was listed in the Red Herring: Global 100 Winners for the first time this year.[48]

In 2011 Jagex received a Queen's Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category.[49] It also sponsored and won the 2011 Develop Quiz.[50]

In November 2012 Jagex won the "best major employer" award at the National Online Recruitment Awards after being chosen from over 164,000 nominations.[51]

Charity fund raising[edit]

Since 2004 Jagex has made donations to a number of national and international charities, as well as running charity auctions for signed merchandise.[52] In 2008 they donated artwork and prizes to the MMOCalendar, which raises funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

In 2011, Jagex donated a total of £150,076 to a number of local and US-based charities.[7]

In 2013, Jagex introduced the "Well of Goodwill" to RuneScape, which allowed players to gift in-game items or wealth to charity.[53] The Well of Goodwill also featured a hi-scores page for the players who donated.[54] For every 10 million gold pieces gifted by the community, Jagex donated $2 to a number of charitable causes.[55] On the weekend of 21 February to 24 February 2014, Jagex reopened the well of goodwill to donations. They also hosted livestreams for the then-active double experience weekend and released a limited-offer virtual purchase to raise money for SpecialEffect, a charity geared towards making games accessible to children with disabilities.[56]

In July 2014, Jagex helped raise awareness about the illegal poaching of black and white rhinos by adding rhinoceros pets and trivia questions to RuneScape. This campaign was partnershipped with United for Wildlife.[57]

In November 2014, Jagex reopened the Well of Goodwill to support 3 new charities: AbleGamers, DonateGames, and YoungMinds.[58]

Release history[edit]

Developed[edit]

RuneScape[edit]

Main article: RuneScape
A RuneScape screenshot

RuneScape is a fantasy MMORPG released in January 2001 by Andrew and Paul Gower.[15] It is a graphical browser game implemented on the client-side in Java, and incorporates 3D rendering. The game has over 200 million registered accounts,[59] and is recognised by the Guinness World Records as the world's most popular free-to-play MMORPG.[9]

RuneScape takes place in the world of Gielinor, a medieval fantasy realm divided into different kingdoms, regions, and cities.[60] Each region offers different types of monsters, resources, and quests to challenge players. The game's fictional universe has also been explored through a tie-in video game on its maker's other website, FunOrb, Armies of Gielinor,[61] and the novels Betrayal at Falador,[29] Return to Canifis[30] and Legacy of Blood.[31]

Players are represented in the game with customisable avatars. RuneScape does not follow a linear storyline; rather, players set their own goals and objectives. Players can choose to fight non-player character (NPC) monsters, complete quests, or increase their experience in the available skills.[62] Players interact with each other through trading, chatting, or by participating in mini-games and activities, some of which are competitive or combative in nature, while others require cooperative or collaborative play.

FunOrb[edit]

Main article: FunOrb

FunOrb is a casual gaming site created by Jagex. Launched on 27 February 2008, it was the company's first major release after RuneScape. All of the games are programmed in Java.

The site is mainly targeted towards the "hard casual," "deep casual" or "time-pressured" gamer market.[63]

8Realms[edit]

Main article: 8Realms

8Realms was an HTML-based empire-building massively multiplayer online strategy game developed by Jagex.[64] It was the company's first internally developed MMORTS, and second published MMORTS after War of Legends.

The 8Realms closed beta was released on 5 May 2011;[65] players were given advanced access to the closed beta by invitation and through the game's Facebook page. On 28 May 2012 Jagex announced they were closing the game, stating that "it has become clear that the game doesn’t meet our high expectations for success."[66]

Carnage Racing[edit]

On 11 October 2012 Jagex announced it was developing a racing game on Facebook called Carnage Racing. The game runs on the Unity game engine and was slated for a November 2012 release.[67]

Published[edit]

War of Legends[edit]

Main article: War of Legends

War of Legends is an MMORTS set in a world of ancient Chinese mythology[68] which was released on 19 January 2010.[69] It was Jagex's first MMORTS, the company's first externally developed game,[70] the first game published by Jagex not to be written in Java,[71] and the company's first microtransactional game.[72]

Herotopia[edit]

Main article: Herotopia

On 10 May 2011 Jagex announced that it was working with the New York based children's media company Herotainment to publish a new browser-based game called Herotopia,[73] which was released on 25 May.[74] According to Jagex the game will be a "virtual world which provides kids with a fun and enjoyable experience they can make their own."[73]

Ace of Spades[edit]

Main article: Ace of Spades

On 1 November 2012 it was announced that Jagex would publish the sandbox game Ace of Spades.[28] The game was released on Steam on 12 December 2012.[75]

Entropy[edit]

Main article: Entropy (video game)

On 9 December 2013 Jagex published the dogfighting space shooter Entropy on steam early access. The game remains in early access state at this point. The game is developed by Artplannet. [76]

Mobile[edit]

Jagex released its first mobile game, Bouncedown, for the iPhone and iPod touch on 3 December 2009,[77] followed by StarCannon on 15 April 2010,[78] Miner Disturbance on 8 June 2010,[79] and Undercroft on 23 September 2010.[80]

8Realms, the company's first HTML based game, was designed to work on the iPad.[81]

Games in development[edit]

Stellar Dawn[edit]

Main article: Stellar Dawn
Stellar Dawn promotional concept art

Stellar Dawn is an upcoming browser-based sci-fi themed MMORPG under development by Jagex. Originally known as MechScape,[82] the project was scrapped and renamed after it was decided that the completed project did not meet the standards of the original design brief.[83] The project was overhauled and formally announced as Stellar Dawn on 14 July 2010 when Jagex released the official Stellar Dawn website.[84] On 10 August 2010 the first official Stellar Dawn teaser was released.[85] The game was slated for a 2011 launch,[86] but in March 2012 Jagex announced that development had been paused in favour of Transformers Universe and RuneScape.[87]

Transformers Universe[edit]

On 14 March 2011 Jagex announced a partnership with Hasbro to create a Transfomers Universe MMO based on the Transformers intellectual property that was due to launch in North America, Latin America, Europe, New Zealand and Australia in 2013.[88] The game entered open beta on 4 July 2014,[89] but it was announced on 16 December 2014 that the game would be shut down on 31 January 2015.[90]

Block "N" Load[edit]

On 11 December 2014 Block "N' Load, a Sandbox building tactical FPS game went into closed beta[91]

Chronicle RuneScape Legends[edit]

Jagex announced Chronicle RuneScape Legends at RuneFest 2014 for launch in the coming year. It features building your own adventure with cards using characters from the MMO RuneScape. [92]

Consoles[edit]

In a March 2010 interview, Mark Gerhard was asked why Jagex have not released games to consoles. He replied, "The console manufacturers are the problem...the reason why we don't have anything on the market is because all three [Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony] are scared of the free-to-play model and that they are very protective over opening up their platforms...we're not going to segment off the 360 community from the PS3 or Wii etc. They've all said that they are fine to interact with a PC, but not another competing console and for us that's just not going to work...we've done everything necessary to be there when they change their mind and we'll be the first to take advantage by offering consoles as an additional choice for our community. However, having players pay for just being able to use their console for the service is just unimaginable, it's wrong."[93]

Reception[edit]

Overall Jagex is a well-received company, ranking 59th in the UK's 2007 Sunday Times Best 100 Companies to Work For.[94]

In its 2008 profile of RuneScape's IP, Develop concluded that: "In addition to being one of the most profitable, Jagex is also the UK’s largest independent developer by staff level, and one of the biggest employers. Its commercial model should make it a poster boy for the disintermediation of publishers and the ‘direct to consumer’ distribution channel in which so many developers place their hopes."[95]

In the past Jagex had been accused of marketing RuneScape towards young children, despite having a 13+ age requirement. The age requirement has since been removed, allowing players under 13 in the game but only allowing them to communicate through a chat system known as Quick Chat; a database of preset sentences. Players may request removal from the Quick Chat system by providing proof of parental consent.[96]

Gerhard has stated that he wishes to change the perception of RuneScape as a children's game, stating that "the real average age is 16. And there's this perception that there's 8 year old boys playing the game and it's mad."[97]

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External links[edit]