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Jagex: We became a publisher out of necessity

Publishers initially told company to "f*** off" says CEO - now it's turning down platform holder investment

Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard has said that the company got into self-publishing ten years ago out of necessity, as other publishers rejected its ideas for browser based MMO Runescape.

"We went to publishers like Activision and EA and said we've got an awesome browser game, and they said 'f*** off'," revealed Gerhard at the Develop Conference in Brighton.

"We went back and said we've got a million users and they said 'bulls***'". The necessity forced us to become a publisher."

Now interest in the company has grown to the point where in 2005 Sony was willing to invest in the business, revealed Gerhard.

As well as publishing its own MMO and casual titles through the FunOrb portal, Jagex is also releasing titles such as War of Legends, which is "125 per cent over target on revenues," according to Gerhard. "It's given us the confidence to do this on a larger scale," he added.

The company has also had success publishing on Apple's iPhone, despite Gerhard admitting he was "the eternal doubter" that the game would find success on the crowded platform, with first iPhone release Bouncedown receiving over 4.5 million downloads in six weeks.

However, Gerhard said creating fun games was still the top priority, and the company considers making games profitable after they've made a title they want to play themselves.

"It's all about the game. Where so many of the traditional developers go wrong is they start with the question of 'where's the money in this, how can we monetise?' That's why we don't get world changing content because its the wrong question. It should be 'how do we create great content? Success is side effect of great content."

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Latest comments (6)

Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 6 years ago
Well done Jagex for taking the iniative and making yourselves what you are today.
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Jason Stewart Associate Producer, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe6 years ago
Great company and growing well.
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Luke Allman Character Artist / Level Designer 6 years ago
"Do what you love and the money will follow." If this was the attitude that every publisher had, I believe that we would have higher quality content all around. I can't wait to see what this company will do in the next 10 years.
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Dominic Bodman Studying Computer Games Programming, University of Derby6 years ago
So very glad they didn't go for a 3rd part publisher like Activision. I don't think they would have been allowed to more or less finish an entire MMO and then scrap it because it didn't meet their expectations.
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 6 years ago
I think the mentality of "making games they want to play" really is important for game developers. That's what Activision and EA are lacking. They only see money and not games and think that buffing up graphics will do the job because they look pretty. At the end of the day, games are entertainment, if they stop entertaining, they stop selling.
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A wonderful company and great people. Hats off to every single member of the team. A case of do the right thing!
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