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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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Matt Martin avatar

Matt Martin

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Matt Martin joined GamesIndustry in 2006 and was made editor of the site in 2008. With over ten years experience in journalism, he has written for multiple trade, consumer, contract and business-to-business publications in the games, retail and technology sectors.

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