Jackbox Games

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Jackbox Games, Inc.
Jellyvision Games, Inc. (1995–2008)
IndustryVideo game industry
Founded1995; 24 years ago (1995)
FounderHarry Nathan Gottlieb
Area served
Key people
  • Mike Bilder (CEO)
  • Allard Laban (CCO)
Number of employees
30[1] (2017)
ParentJellyvision (1995–2001)

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 (YDKJ) series of quiz-based party video games. Founded as a subsidiary of Jellyvision in 1995, the company was formerly incorporated as Jellyvision Games, until both companies formally separated in 2001. After seven years of dormancy, in 2008, Jellyvision Games was revived and rebranded Jackbox Games.


Jellyvision created its division Jellyvision Games to publish numerous versions of You Don't Know Jack for personal computers from 1995 to 1998.[2] In 2001, Jellyvision Games was spun off into its own company, though shared the same office space as with Jellyvision.[3] Around the same time, the computer game market shifted; the pricing for CD-ROMs shifted, and players moved from personal computers to home consoles of the sixth generation.[1] The company attempted to enter the marketplace with console-based versions of You Don't Know Jack but were unsuccessful.[4] Jellyvision had to drastically cut its staff, dropping from 75 to about 6 people by 2001, and Jellyvision Games was shelved.[1] About a year later, the studio reinvented itself, creating its Jellyvision Lab to work on business software technology they called "Interactive Conversation" that would help assist customers and clients in filling forms or other processes. The company was able to grow from this, in part due to clients they obtained that had been fans of the You Don't Know Jack series before.[1][5]

In 2008, as the popularity of networked consoles and mobile devices became popular, Jellyvision Labs opted to reactivate Jellyvision Games, naming it Jellyvision Games, LLC, headed by Mike Bilder.[6][7] The division 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. Near the end of 2011, the company was incorporated as Jellyvision Games, Inc. Since then, the company has developed a Facebook version of the game, allowing them to continuously provide new trivia; later the product 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.

The studio was 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.[8]

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.tv. 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.[1]

Ad Week recognized Jackbox's CCO, Allard Laban, as one of the top 12 digital innovators in 2017 for being able to bring back the company from its downsizing struggles in 2001.[9]

Games developed[edit]

You Don't Know Jack series (2011–2012)[edit]

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:

The Jackbox Party Pack series (2014–present)[edit]

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.tv. Since 2014, Jackbox has released a new set of games in these packs each year.

Standalone titles[edit]

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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 (2014)[edit]

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 (2015)[edit]

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 funniest, 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.[10] 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.[11][12] Enhanced versions of Quiplash featuring more prompts have been included in The Jackbox Party Pack.

Drawful 2 (2016)[edit]

Drawful 2 is a standalone game released on June 21, 2016 for Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.[13] 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 that select that phrase and to players that have their response voted as the "correct" phrase. Drawful 2 has added features, such as allowing players to use two colors for their drawings.[14] 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.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e Griner, Dave (June 16, 2017). "Inside the Rise, Fall and Triumphant Rebirth of a Beloved Chicago Game Studio". AdWeek. Archived from the original on October 2, 2017. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  2. ^ Teti, John (February 14, 2011). "You Don't Know Jack". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
  3. ^ Hendershot, Steve (February 21, 2012). "Gamemaker Jellyvision taps new CEO". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  4. ^ Smith, Ryan (February 9, 2011). "Interview: Chicago's Jellyvision Speaks With GameSmith About New "You Don't Know Jack" Game". Chicago Now. Archived from the original on February 28, 2011. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
  5. ^ Schiesel, Seth (February 9, 2011). "Where Challenges Abound for Fans of Trivia". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
  6. ^ McElroy, Justin (August 19, 2008). "Jellyvision getting back into the games biz". Joystiq. Archived from the original on April 27, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  7. ^ Alexander, Leigh (August 19, 2008). "Jellyvision Returns To Game Biz With Bilder". Gamasutra. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  8. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (June 5, 2013). "Jellyvision changes name to Jackbox Games" (Press release). Gameindustry.biz. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
  9. ^ Staff (June 17, 2017). "12 Digital Innovators Who Are Crafting, Coding and Advancing a More Interesting World". Ad Week. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  10. ^ Conditt, Jessica (June 30, 2015). "'Quiplash,' a streaming party game for 10,000 people". Engadget. Archived from the original on August 13, 2017.
  11. ^ Marchiafava, Jeff (March 16, 2015). "Quiplash". Game Informer. Archived from the original on April 24, 2015. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  12. ^ Jackbox Games (April 13, 2015). "Quiplash – An Outrageous New Party Game". Kickstarter. Archived from the original on February 23, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  13. ^ Sarkar, Samit (June 21, 2016). "Drawful 2 now available with special launch-day discounts". Polygon. Archived from the original on June 22, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  14. ^ Rowen, Nic (March 22, 2016). "DRAWFUL 2 WILL FINALLY REALIZE THE DREAM OF DRAWING WITH TWO COLORS AT ONCE". Destructoid. Archived from the original on March 23, 2016. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  15. ^ Sarkar, Samit (April 15, 2016). "Drawful 2 will let you create and share your own question packs". Polygon. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved April 15, 2016.

External links[edit]