Train2Game News Jagex hits several milestones on 18th Birthday

Jagex has revealed today that on its 18th birthday the RuneScape franchise has reached an all-time high, soaring above the previous 2008 peak, following expansion on to mobile.

The successful launch of Old School RuneScape on mobile and early testing of RuneScape mobile has boosted subscriber levels to well above the 1million mark. During its strongest year to date, Jagex achieved a number of significant milestones:

  • More than 5million installs of Old School RuneScape on iOS and Android since launch
  • The RuneScape franchise achieved the highest ever paid membership total in its history over the Christmas period, surpassing previous record set in 2008
  • Cumulative lifetime revenue for the RuneScape franchise passed $1billion
  • Monthly active users more than doubled over the year with big gains in the last quarter
  • Highest ever attendance for annual player convention RuneFest
  • More than 100 new hires were added to the Jagex team

Phil Mansell, CEO, Jagex, said:

“2018 was a fantastic year for our RuneScape games, which have truly come of age. The franchise has been growing consistently for five years, and we’ve seen a surge of further community growth with the move to mobile. Old School RuneScape’s successful mobile launch was made possible by our incredible team who’ve been able to make this classic game play smoothly in a mobile form-factor, and which allows players to enjoy the convenience of completely interoperable PC to mobile cross-play. This achievement showcases our living games philosophy; bringing deeply engaging community experiences to players wherever they are.

“We find that the more we listen to, engage with, and empower the community the more if fosters a true connection; with each other and with the games. The big increases we’re seeing in both membership and active users show that we’re not only able to bring new players into RuneScape but we’re able to offer the kind of rich, evergreen content that keeps them engaged for the long term.

“With this success we’ve continued to increase investment levels to expand our games, as well as bringing in a slate of hugely talented people to join us in development, technology and publishing.”

Industry veterans Nick Beliaeff, SVP Development, and Rob Cordero, VP Technology, were added to the Jagex executive team in 2018, and will continue to build their departments in 2019 that will be focused on delivering more great content to RuneScape and Old School RuneScape players, further improving the game experience and expanding Jagex into new areas.

John Burns, SVP Publishing, Jagex, said:

“A number of initiatives really hit the mark for us in 2018, and we’ll be using all of our learnings from these activities to deliver even more this year. Our ongoing commitment to delivering bigger and better content begins this week with the first of three significant Old School RuneScape content updates, Kebos Lowlands, we continue to work on developing RuneScape on mobile and a number of other exciting plans are in the works. Coupled with the strides we’re making with Jagex Partners, 2019 looks set to be another great year for the company.”

Jagex Partners, which will deliver live game publishing and operational services tailored specifically to the needs of third-party studios, was launched in 2018. Development also continues on internal projects, including the mobile version of RuneScape which will soon join Old School RuneScape on iOS and Android devices. The game is currently in early testing. One membership subscription gains players access to expanded features and content in both flavours of RuneScape.

More news about Jagex Partners and the mobile version of RuneScape will be revealed soon.

Train2Game News Video Games Industry Worth Over Half of UK Entertainment Market

The video games sector now accounts for more than half of the UK’s entire entertainment market, according to a new report.

The industry is worth £3.86bn – more than double its value in 2007 – said the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

That makes it more lucrative than video and music combined.

The success is largely down to three games: Fifa 19, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.

The games market has grown, despite the fact that the physical console and PC games market shrank slightly in 2018.

Chief executive of ERA, Kim Bayley said: “The games industry has been incredibly effective in taking advantage of the potential of digital technology to offer new and compelling forms of entertainment. Despite being the youngest of our three sectors, it is now by far the biggest.”

Three games – Fifa 19, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 – each sold more than one million physical units in the UK during 2018.

This is all the more impressive when you realise that these games were all released in the latter part of the year.

The figures do not take account of the success of mobile and free games such as Fortnite, however, which has more than 200 million players around the world.

Mass market entertainment

Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at IHS Markit said: “During the last five years the games sector has benefited hugely from the mainstream adoption of games apps on smart devices, and the transition from physical distribution to digital distribution in established parts of the market such as console gaming.

“Games are now truly mass market and a very important part of the entertainment sector.”

He added: “Growth has been fuelled by the dominance of free content and in-game monetisation, which expands the adoption of games but also removes the cap on spending for those gamers that are really engaged in the experiences.

“The flexibility of interactive content means it is unique in that it can be monetised in this way, which is an advantage over other forms of entertainment.”

Source: BBC News

Train2Game News Track and Build with Jägermeister

Jägermeister has launched an exciting new initiative in the video games space, teaming with award-winning cinematic bass duo Koven for the ‘Track and Build’ competition.

‘Track and Build’ – which opens today – will search for a games studio to work with Koven on an exclusive track for one of its games.

Indie studios who have a game which will be ready for release in 2019 are invited to enter the competition for free.

Submissions are being taken via www.trackandbuild.io with the entry period closing on February 15th2019, when the shortlist of games will be revealed. The winning studio will be announced at the end of February and will have the unique opportunity to have a game track produced by Koven.

London-based cinematic bass duo Koven is the production alias of producer Max Rowat and Katie Boyle. Within the games industry they are best known for creating the track ‘My Love’ for Rocket League, as well as the trailer music for Driveclub.

“We’re incredibly excited about the Track and Build competition, as it represents our first steps into the games sector,” said Jägermeister’s Music Manager Tom Carson.

“Thanks to our friends at Koven, we can offer a games studio the unique opportunity to have a track created for them by artists who have already made a name for themselves in the genre through their work on Rocket League.”

Koven added: “This is such a mad and exciting opportunity for us to be a part of, and for anyone who we end up working with! We are so pleased to be involved and look forward to going through the entries.”

Jägermeister will announce a further element to the Track and Build competition in the New Year when it will engage with the composer community on the initiative.

To find out more about Track and Build and to enter, visit www.trackandbuild.io.

Train2Game News The Sandbox wants your Art

Pixowl, a leading creator of world building experiences that was recently acquired by Animoca Brands (ASX: AB1), announced today that its forthcoming decentralized blockchain gaming platform, The Sandbox, is launching a massive $2 million USD Creator Fund to support artists around the globe making and sharing amazing creations on its platform.

The Sandbox is a community-driven platform where creators can monetize voxel assets and gaming experiences. The Sandbox has already achieved 40M installs and 1.2M monthly active players on mobile, and Pixowl will soon launch a decentralized version built on the blockchain, which will allow PC and Mac users to monetize the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) they use in the game. The Sandbox for blockchain aims to disrupt the market by providing the first blockchain platform offering the large community of creators its own NFT builder gaming ecosystem.

“With The Sandbox, we are developing the first User Generated Content NFT marketplace and providing a decentralized future for content discovery,” said Arthur Madrid, CEO and Co-Founder of Pixowl and The Sandbox. “Our new Creator Fund offers an attractive option for creators to really own their assets while benefiting through publishing their creations on our platform.”

In The Sandbox, any creative person can make their very own static or animated voxel objects. It’s as easy as using children’s toy building blocks, and the creative process is aided by the platform’s powerful, intuitive VoxEdit tool that will allow anyone to create and animate NFT objects from scratch or import existing creations.

For the first time, creators will be able to publish their voxel creations on the blockchain as NFTs, virtual tokens ensuring digital scarcity, security and authenticity without the limitations of central control. Models made by artists will be unique and their scarcity provable on the blockchain in perpetuity, allowing them to be freely and securely traded in The Sandbox as well as on third-party NFT marketplaces including OPSkins/WAX, a leading NFT exchange, and many others. With true ownership of their NFTs, creators will hold a vested interest in success of The Sandbox.

“The combination of the Creator Fund and our VoxEdit toolset provide an incentive for artists to get into The Sandbox early, potentially making their NFT assets the go-to models in their respective category,” said Arthur Madrid. “We want to fast track our vision of a voxel building platform online, as titles like Minecraft and Roblox have shown that creators of all ages can build online user generated content beautifully and at scale—anyone can build a ‘digital LEGO’ with almost no learning curve or special skills.”

The Sandbox’s Creator Fund is an initiative supporting all talents without any distinction of age, sex or country of origin. The fund will predominantly be used to reward and incentivize artists to submit original voxel models via grants on a per asset basis. Artists will be able to register to qualify for grants, submitting their voxel models to The Sandbox team for approval. The Creator Fund is a revolving fund that will be replenished using transaction fees from the game’s Marketplace, scheduled to launch in Q2 2019.

Artists can visit fund.sandbox.game to sign up today to get notified when the Fund begins accepting applications.

Voxel artists and creators are invited to learn more about VoxEdit at sandbox.game/editor and get involved into the community through The Sandbox Discord channel at discord.gg/vAe4zvY. Community members will be considered for early access to the first public beta of VoxEdit, expected to launch before end of year.

Further details on the Creator Fund will be unveiled on the company’s Medium channel at medium.com/sandbox-game in the future.

Train2Game News UK Video Game Industry Union

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is launching the first ever branch for workers in the UK’s video games industry, in an attempt to tackle the wide-scale exploitation now common in one of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK economy.

The creation of the Games Workers Unite branch will not only make the IWGB the first union in the UK to represent games workers, but one of the first anywhere in the world.

Among other issues, the branch will look to tackle:

  • The use of excessive, often unpaid overtime, commonly referred to as “crunch”, where some workers have been reported to work as much as 100 hours a week
  • The use of zero-hours contracts, especially among Quality Assurance (QA) testers.
  • The industry’s lack of diversity and inclusion, as well as its failure to tackle the pervasive culture of homophobia and sexism.

The inaugural meeting of the IWGB’s Games Workers Unite branch, which will include the election of branch officials, will be held on 16 December. The IWGB expects hundreds to join the branch in the first few months.
The branch will be open to all past, current and soon to be workers in the video games industry, except those with hiring and firing power. The branch will include contract, agency and casual workers, as well direct employees.

The UK video games industry is the largest in Europe, with approximately 47,000 workers, according to UKIE.

Game worker and founding member of the IWGB’s Games Workers Unite branch Dec Peach said: “For as long as I can remember it has been considered normal for games workers to endure zero-hours contracts, excessive unpaid overtime, and even sexism and homophobia as the necessary price to pay for the privilege of working in the industry. Now, as part of the IWGB, we will have the tools to fix this broken sector and create an ethical industry where it’s not only big game companies that thrive, but workers as well.”

IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “The game workers’ decision to unionise with the IWGB should be a wake up call for the UK’s gaming industry. The IWGB is proud to support these workers and looks forward to shining a massive spotlight on the industry.”

The IWGB is the leading union for precarious workers and workers in the so-called “gig economy”. It has led campaigns and strategic legal action against companies such as Uber, Deliveroo and CitiSprint.

Train2Game News London Games Festival 2019 Return

The London Games Festival will return in 2019 with an extended run and bigger events from 2 April to 14 April across the city.

London Games Festival, backed by the Mayor of London with funding of £1.2m over three years, seeks to make London the games capital of the world. It is delivered by Games London, an initiative from Film London, the capital’s screen industries agency, and video games trade body Ukie (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment).

Over 65,000 people attended 40 different events across 20 different venues during the 2018 festival. LGF has more games on show than any other global games event with nearly 400 games to play across its events. The Festival has also established itself as a platform for global business in games, connecting attendees with investors to secure deals worth nearly £20m in potential business last April.

The 2019 event will see the return of tentpole activities for the public, including the headline-grabbing Games Character Cosplay Parade and an expanded Now Play This at Somerset House, which will reach more attendees than ever. Overall the festival will provide a wider programme of outdoor events and an even bigger offering for the games developer community – while some of its core programming will focus on the impact games are having on culture, health and the wider creative industries.

Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, said: “The creative industries are key to our success as a global city and the games industry is a thriving sector bringing jobs and investment to the capital. With the Mayor’s support, the London Games Festival has established itself as a global showcase for London’s cutting-edge games industry and once again shows that the capital is open to innovation and business. I’m delighted that the festival will return bigger and better than ever in 2019.”

Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “The rapidly expanding global games industry delivers vital growth into the UK and London economies as a key, cutting edge component of the phenomenally successful creative industries. Through Games London, we are committed to cementing London’s status as a games leader, working to attract over £40m of potential investment into games businesses over the next three years. The London Games Festival is a key moment in celebrating and showcasing this success, bringing together the brightest and best talent and enabling major new business opportunities.”

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie and Mayor of London Cultural Board Ambassador, said: “Games and interactive entertainment are an increasingly important part of the creative and cultural offer of London, our capital city. Games London is a hugely valued programme which showcases the talent, innovation and creativity of the sector from across the UK, and demonstrates the impact of what we make on the economy and culture. There is something for everyone at this year’s London Games Festival, which pulls together 12 days of play, with events and hands on fun for families, for fans, all over the city, as well as opening up a critical business focus through the Games Finance Market.”

Highlights of London Games Festival 2019 include:

  • The return of the LGF HUB (Tuesday 2 April and Wednesday 3 April) featuring showcases of start-ups and prototypes, workshops and summits on Games Impact, Games Culture, Convergence and Online Live Games
  • The return of Now Play This at Somerset House, a festival of playful work and experimental game design which is set to be expanded for 2019 after a popular event in 2018
  • The fourth Games Finance Market (Wednesday, 3 April and Thursday 4 April) the only event of its kind in the UK, connecting 60 games studios with 60 global games investors
  • A second phase of Ensemble, Games London’s exhibition profiling key UK-based BAME games talent
  • Games Character Parade (Saturday, 6 April) featuring a parade of cosplayers at key London locations alongside a day of family-oriented activities

Games London is also proud to have internationaly renowned global partners delivering further events during the festival including:

  • London’s largest games event EGX Rezzed (Thursday, 4 April to Saturday, 6 April), a showcase of PC and indie games at Tobacco Dock
  • The BAFTA Games Awards on the evening of Thursday, 4 April

Applications are now open for developers and industry professionals looking to take part in London Games Festival and the wider Games London programme – including the Games Finance Market and Pitch Bootcamp, the second phase of BAME exhibition Ensemble and an upcoming outbound mission to Slush in Helsinki, Finland in December.

Find out more at www.games.london and follow @londongamesfest for more updates over the coming weeks and months.

Train2Game News The journalists YOU want to be friends with

The winners of the first Games Media Brit List Awards were revealed last night at a fun-filled ceremony in Shoreditch, London.

The new awards event celebrated the very best in games writing and broadcasting, and attracted nominations from across the spectrum of the games media – from specialist consumer journalists, B2B reporters, eSports presenters, YouTubers, streamers, media brands, national media reviewers and more.

The winners were:

BEST CRITIC
Christian Donlan – Eurogamer

BEST REPORTER
Ben Barrett – Freelance

BEST FEATURES WRITER
Tamoor Hussain – Gamespot

BEST VIDEO PRESENTER
Chris Bratt – Eurogamer

BEST STREAMER
Eurogamer

PODCAST/RADIO SHOW
Adam Rosser – Radio 5Live Game On

BEST PRINT EDITORIAL TEAM
Edge

BEST ONLINE EDITORIAL TEAM
Eurogamer

BEST VIDEO PRODUCTION TEAM
IGN

EMERGING TALENT
Vic Hood – Freelance

An award for the MOST INFLUENTIAL was also announced, with The Guardian’s Games Editor Keza MacDonald picking up the prestigious trophy.

The awards were hosted by writer, editor, producer, and trainee pro wrestler Simon Miller and hosted at the Rich Mix venue in Shoreditch.

Supporting the very first Games Media Brit List Awards were Trailblazers from Rising Star Games, Belong by GAME, Reality Clash, Bossa Studios, Hitman Definitive Edition from Warner Bros, Vuelio, Jägermeister, plus industry bodies Ukie, TIGA and ERA.

The next Games Media Brit List will take place on Thursday, May 16th 2019 – More details will be announced soon at www.gamesmediabritlist.com .

Alternatively, follow the Games Media Brit List on Twitter or sign up to the GMBL email newsletter to receive updates.

Lisa Carter, Event Director at Games Media Brit List, said: “We’re absolutely delighted with the response we’ve had to the first Games Media Brit List Awards. To see such positivity in the room, with friends, peers and rivals cheering each other was absolutely brilliant.

“A huge congratulations to all the winners, a big thank you to our partners who helped make it happen, and apologies for any sore heads. See you all again in 2019!”

Train2Game News London Games Festival celebrates BAME

London Games Festival 2018 will launch a new exhibition of work by UK games creatives from BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds this April.

Ensemble highlights the significant contribution BAME creatives have made to the UK’s games culture at every level, focusing on up to eight artists and delving into their work.

Ensemble aims to inspire the next generation of game developers from all backgrounds, offering a fresh angle on game development as a creative process. It will also showcase how diverse talents and perspectives are vital for building more diverse digital worlds and creating the games of the future.

The London Games Festival has enlisted Sharna Jackson to curate Ensemble. Jackson has a wealth of experience in digital initiatives within arts and cult and has held roles at Tate, Design Museum, The Broad in LA and the Royal Collection Trust and consulted for National Maritime Museum, Museum of Childhood, V&A and Science Museum. She is a trustee at Sheffield Doc/Fest, New Writing North and Upswing, and a non-exec director at Bright Little Labs.

“Important work is being created by minorities, and it’s imperative to highlight these achievements – especially in this climate – and to encourage and support the next generation of talent as they emerge. The show foregrounds the importance of a diverse industry, by demonstrating its significance in the creation of rich and intoxicating worlds and experiences for everyone,” Jackson says.

A steering group that helps guide the exhibition’s content and ethos includes Jackson plus Shahid Ahmad (Ultimatum Games, formerly Sony), Nainita Desai (leading UK composer for BBC, HBO, ITV and more), Kish Hirani (BAME in Games, formerly Sony), Adrian Hon (Six to Start), Nahrein Kemp (Film London), Dr Mitu Khandaker (Spirit AI, NYU Game Center) and Anisa Sanusi (Hutch Games).

Ensemble is supported by the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.

Ensemble will be unveiled during the larger London Games Festival 2018, which runs from 5-15 April 2018 across the capital, before touring key games clusters in the UK. This includes two days at LGF’s HUB event in Bloomsbury on 9 & 10 April, and other activity to be announced.

The London Games Festival is organised by Games London, a partnership between the capital’s screen industries agency Film London and games trade body Ukie, supported by the Mayor of London’s London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP).

If you are interested in submitting your own work for the exhibition – or want to put forward someone for consideration – contact sharna.jackson@games.london or @sharnajackson on Twitter. The deadline for all recommendations and entries is March 6 – more information at www.games.londo ensemble.e.

For more information on the London Games Festival visit www.games.london . Follow @londongamesfest on Twitter or Instagram for more updates.

Train2Game News UK Mobile Games Studio Undergoes Rebrand

Outplay Entertainment, the UK’s largest independent mobile games studio, has unveiled a transformative rebrand.

Through partnering with multi-discipline design agency JDO, new positioning around the concept of ‘limitless fun’ has been devised, along with a new logo and identity.

This follows a hugely successful 2017, and a year of rapid growth, where the studio reported 1,904% revenue growth since 2013. It ranked 61st as part of the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 – a league table of the fastest-growing technology companies in EMEA, while also placing 11th in the UK Fast 50, and first in Scotland. Topping this off was The Sunday Times Tech Track 100, where Outplay Entertainment ranked 13th nationally.

Richard Hare, President of Outplay Entertainment, comments “Our new visual identity captures the spirit of the business and is uplifting, approachable and authentic. It also guarantees heightened visibility to ensure we continue to thrive in an ever-evolving games industry. From the very start, our goal for Outplay Entertainment was to be associated with fun – and fun is different for every single one of us. Our focus going into 2018 and beyond, is to better understand what this means for all of our players globally. We want gamers to recognise our brand, our titles, and feel connected with our studio.”

On the partnership, Pippa Knight, Head of Strategy at JDO, comments “The key to creating a successful strategy for Outplay Entertainment has been to define the creativity, energy and expertise that will resonate powerfully within the corporate and consumer worlds. The concept we created together – ‘limitless fun’ – is a truth that has inspired the business since inception, and was a natural choice to capture the brand’s core idea. It conveys diversity, inclusivity and has an unstoppable momentum which positions the brand perfectly to inspire continuing progress and success.”

For more information about Outplay Entertainment please visit https://outplay.com/

Train2Game News Rebellion hits 25th birthday


Happy birthday Rebellion! 

The independent UK studio behind Sniper Elite, Battlezone and Zombie Army Trilogy has hit the big milestone, celebrating its 25th birthday this week.

To give this context, Rebellion was formed by Jason and Chris Kingsley on 4th December 1992. It was a time when Mega Drive and SNES were doing battle on the pages of CVG. When Home Alone 2: Lost In New York was just a week away from its long-awaited cinema release. When ‘Would I Lie To You’ by Charles & Eddie stormed up the UK charts.

Yes, people actually bought that single in droves. Truly, they were strange times.

But more importantly, it was also the start of a long and successful journey for Rebellion. From the humble beginnings of Eye of the Storm to the co-op adventuring of Strange Brigade, Rebellion’s story has seen the studio offer gamers new experiences through VR tank showdowns, zombie Hitler battles and the chance to snipe testicles from three postcodes away.

Rebellion’s pop-culture influence even reaches beyond gaming now, as the studio has also become the custodian of all things 2000 AD and Judge Dredd, while Rebellion Publishing pushes the coolest authors and artists from the fringes of counterculture.

As part of Rebellion’s celebrations this week, here are 25 facts about the UK studio… and here’s to the next 25 years!

1) Rebellion was founded in 1992 in Oxford by two brothers – Jason and Chris Kingsley

2) The iconic Rebellion logo was inspired by the Solidarity logo used by the Polish trade union of the same name.

3) The name ‘Rebellion’ comes from the Kingsleys wanting a name to represent how they would ‘do things slightly differently’

4) Five people worked on Rebellion’s first game, Eye of the Storm, compared to Rebellion’s current team sizes of typically up

5) Jason and Chris Kingsley were among the first three people in Europe to hear about the Atari Jaguar

6) Rebellion has developed games for a number of well-known franchises including Aliens vs Predator, James Bond, Harry Potter, The Simpsons and Star Wars

7) Rebellion has developed over 85 games to date

8) Rebellion’s biggest-selling licensed game is The Simpsons Game

9) Rebellion’s biggest-selling original game is Sniper Elite V2

10) Rebellion has 32 platform number 1 games to its name

11) In 2000, Rebellion bought 2000AD

12) Rebellion has made 10 acquisitions throughout its history, including 2000AD and Elixir Studios

13) Over 200 issues of the monthly Judge Dredd Megazine have been published under Rebellion’s aegis

14) Over 800 issues of the weekly 2000AD comic have been published under Rebellion’s aegis

15) Rebellion has published over 1,000 books to date

16) Jason and Chris Kingsley were Producers on the 2012 Dredd film starring Karl Urban

17) Jason and Chris Kingsley are Producers on the new Judge Dredd: Mega City One TV series

18) Rebellion uses its own development engine, ‘Asura’

19) Rebellion has won four awards as a studio, including Best Independent Studio in 2017…

20) …while Rebellion has also won 28 awards for its games, on top of the many awards won by 2000 AD and Rebellion Publishing.

21) Rebellion has developed for 35 different gaming platforms including Amiga, Wii and PlayStation VR

22) Rebellion has over 200 staff across their studios

23) Rebellion is one of the UK’s largest fully independent studios

24) Jason Kingsley was awarded an OBE due to his ‘services to the economy’

25) Jason and Chris Kingsley created the computer graphics for the Adamski’s ‘Killer’ music video featuring Seal