|Founder||Harry Nathan Gottlieb|
Number of employees
|Parent||The Jellyvision Lab (2008–2011)|
Jackbox Games, Inc. (formerly Jellyvision Games, Inc.) is an American video game developer based in Chicago, Illinois, best known for the You Don't Know Jack series of quiz-based party video games and The Jackbox Party Pack series. Founded by Harry Nathan Gottlieb, the company operated as Jellyvision Games from 1995 until its closure in 2001. After seven years of dormancy, Jellyvision Games was revived in 2008, and the company rebranded as Jackbox Games in 2013.
The earliest incarnation of Jackbox Games was founded in 1989 by Harry Nathan Gottlieb as an educational entertainment company called Learn Television. Prior to developing You Don't Know Jack, the company created a children's trivia game called That's a Fact, Jack!. In 1995, the company rebranded as Jellyvision and developed the first edition of You Don't Know Jack; originally a PC game, its success established a franchise, and Jellyvision produced numerous installments of You Don't Know Jack from 1995 through 1998.
In 2001, the computer game market shifted, as players moved from personal computers to home consoles of the sixth generation, affecting the demand for CD-ROM games. Jellyvision attempted to enter the marketplace with console-based versions of You Don't Know Jack, but these games were unsuccessful. The company had to drastically cut its staff, dropping from 75 to about 6 people. Jellyvision Games was subsequently shelved, and the following year Gottlieb launched a new company called the Jellyvision Lab. Pivoting away from games, the Jellyvision Lab focused on business software, developing a technology called the "interactive conversation interface" inspired by the voice-driven interface of You Don't Know Jack. These interactive conversation products were a success, in part because of clients who had been fans of the You Don't Know Jack series.
In 2008, as networked consoles and mobile devices became popular, Jellyvision Games was relaunched as a subsidiary of the Jellyvision Lab, hiring Mike Bilder to lead the studio. The company looked to revitalize You Don't Know Jack for these new systems, subsequently releasing an iOS application and, in partnership with THQ, a console version in 2011. The studio later developed a Facebook version of the game, allowing them to continuously provide new trivia; later, the game expanded to include a standalone mobile application that allows data sharing and competition with the Facebook version. The game, now defunct, was awarded the "Social Game of the Year" at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards.
Near the end of 2011, Jellyvision Games was spun off into a separate company. The studio rebranded as Jackbox Games in June 2013, and announced that it would continue to focus on developing social games for current platforms including mobile devices and home entertainment devices like Roku and Ouya.
During this time, the company introduced a unique feature that allowed the game to be played using smartphones and tablets as controllers, rather than actual game controllers. Jackbox released more apps including Clone Booth (a humorous photo-manipulation app) and the games Lie Swatter (a find-the-lies game of wacky facts) and Word Puttz (a mini-golf themed word game), before turning its attention back to consoles with its 2014 release of Fibbage: The Hilarious Bluffing Party Game. Fibbage first appeared on the Amazon Fire TV but soon after was released as a digital-only title on Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in September 2014. Fibbage also uses the phones-as-controllers technology, allowing players to type in bluffs to fool other players, and allowing up to 8 players to play in one room (no actual physical controllers are used to play the game).
Fibbage proved successful with players, particularly using streaming media services like Twitch. The company saw potential in this, and in 2014, packaged Fibbage, You Don't Know Jack, and three other games that were designed to be played with others over a stream, as well as creating a high-value product for consumers. This was the first Jackbox Party Pack, and they have continued working on this approach, releasing a new Party Pack each year through 2020.
In 2018 You Don't Know Jack was displayed in the Chicago New Media 1973-1992 exhibition, curated by jonCates.
In the first half of 2020, much of the world was forced to stay at home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jackbox games, particularly the Jackbox Party Pack with easy integration with video conferencing applications, became highly popular as ways to pass the time and connect with friends and family, leading Jackbox Games to expand server capacity to help support the increased popularity of the games. They also arranged special charity Jackbox game streams with celebrities to raise money for charities responding to the pandemic, with over US$500,000 raised by May 2020.
You Don't Know Jack series (2011–2012)
Jackbox Games was founded to bring back Jellyvision's premiere title, You Don't Know Jack, which prior to 2011 had not been published since 2002. The revival sought to take advantage of newer technologies such as modern consoles and mobile gaming tied with Facebook integration. The Jackbox Game has brought three of these standalone titles to market:
- You Don't Know Jack – 2011 – For personal computers and consoles
- You Don't Know Jack (Facebook) – 2012 – Via Facebook integration, and later to include tie-in iOS/Android versions.
- You Don't Know Jack Party (Amazon Fire TV)
The Jackbox Party Pack series (2014–present)
The Jackbox Party Pack games are individual collections of several party games, designed for online play by multiple people, including large audiences, via streaming websites like Twitch. Since 2014, Jackbox has released a new set of games in these packs each year, with a total of six games currently released, and a seventh announced.
Jackbox Games developed additional games initially geared to mobile devices after the success of the Facebook-based You Don't Know Jack game. These have been released as individual titles, while some have been then featured as part of The Jackbox Party Pack.
Lie Swatter (2013)
Lie Swatter presents the player with a number of statements which may be true or false, and the player is required to determine which ones are lies and "swat" them. The player earns points for correctly-guessed answers (i.e. not swatting true statements and swatting false ones).
Clone Booth (2013)
Clone Booth is a photo app for mobile devices that allows one to take a photo and then have that digitally manipulated into a number of stock historical images which then can be shared via mobile devices.
Word Puttz (2013)
Word Puttz is a single player game for mobile devices. On each level, the player is presented with a miniature golf hole, including a tee and a cup; other obstacles may also be present. The objective is to create words using a given set of letter tiles to create a path from the tee to the hole, in the manner of Scrabble. The player is scored based on how few words they use, as well as point values of those letters in the words.
Fibbage is a party game played by up to eight players via a streaming channel. It is broken into three rounds. In the first two rounds, each player has an opportunity to pick one of five randomly selected categories, and then all players are presented with an obscure fact with a missing word or phrase. Each player secretly provides the answer to the missing phrase, trying to craft an answer that appears legitimate. If players enter the correct answer, they are told of this and encouraged to enter a false answer. The game then presents all players' answers and the correct answer randomly. Players must then select the correct answer. If the player selected the correct answer, they score points, while if other players have selected that player's fake answer, they also score points for each player that selected their answer. In the final round, the game provides one last question for all players to answer. The player with the most points at the end wins. Following each question, players including the audience members have the opportunity to mark one or more answers as favorites, and the player with the most favorites is shown at the end of the game.
Improved versions of Fibbage, offering new questions/prompts and additional features, have been included in various Jackbox Party Packs.
Quiplash is played over 3 rounds. In the first two rounds, players are given two prompts to supply a humorous answer for; each prompt is seen by two random players. Then, the prompt and the two provided answers are shown, and players and the audience vote on which is funnier, with the players that provided the answers given points on how many votes they get. If they end up getting all of the votes, they get a "quiplash" and earn a bonus score. The final round has all players reply to the same prompt, and players subsequently select three of the answers as the funniest. The winner is the player with the most points in the end.
Quiplash was developed by Jackbox Games with the intent as a game designed for streaming and enabling the audience to be an active participant, working from their previous success with a similar model of play from Fibbage and Drawful. Jackbox used a Kickstarter approach to fund development of the game, with the March 2015 campaign seeking US$15,000 and finishing with over US$30,000 from over 1,600 backers. Enhanced versions of Quiplash featuring more prompts have been included in The Jackbox Party Pack.
Drawful 2 (2016)
Drawful 2 is a standalone game released on June 21, 2016 for Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. It follows the same format of Drawful from the 2014 The Jackbox Party Pack. Players are presented with a silly phrase they must try to draw out on a canvas. The picture is then shown to all players, who attempt to guess the original phrase, with points awards to players who select that phrase, and to players who have their response voted as the "correct" phrase. Drawful 2 has added features, such as allowing players to use two colors for their drawings. The game includes support for user-generated phrases which are created in a similar party-oriented manner as the game itself, which then can be shared with other players via a code.
Quiplash 2: InterLASHional (2020)
Quiplash 2 InterLASHional was released on April 8, 2020 as a newer version of Quiplash 2 that was originally released in 2016 as part of The Jackbox Party Pack 3. Jackbox developed the InterLASHional version following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced many people to stay home on lockdown; the various Jackbox Party Packs had become popular games played over streaming network services to help people past the time and created a large influx of players. Jackbox saw that many of these were non-English speakers, leading them to decide to create the standalone of Quiplash 2 with translations for French, Italian, German, and Spanish in addition to English.
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