The Carlyle Group, a multinational private equity firm, has confirmed that it has acquired Jagex, a game developer and publisher, which is best known for RuneScape and Old School RuneScape, the world’s largest free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing games.
The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, though financing was provided by two of Carlyle’s partner funds. The company is expected to invest in research and development for RuneScape, accelerate the release of new content, and expand the studio’s portfolio with new titles.
Jagex, which based at the Cambridge Science Park in Cambridge, England, was sold to Macarthur Fortune Holding LLC last year for though $530 million. The studio has confirmed that six directors from the Carlyle Group have joined its board, including managing director of technology Ashley Evans and vice president of buyouts Tyler Parker.
Jagex, founded by brothers and computer programmers Andrew Gower and Paul Gower in 1999, was initially described as a “small software company based in England who specialise in producing top-quality Java-games for webpages.” Shortly after establishing the studio, the Gower brothers began working on the MMORPG RuneScape, which was released in January 2001.
On February 27, 2002, the pay-to-play version of RuneScape was released. The game registered 5,000 subscribers in the first week, making it one of the largest Java pay-to-play games in the world at the time. The studio continued to grow steadily, and by May 2007, RuneScape had over 6,000,000 active free accounts and over 1,000,000 active pay-to-play subscribers.
RuneScape, which is set Gielinor, a medieval fantasy realm that is divided into different kingdoms, regions, and cities, features a variety of monsters, resources, and player challenges. The game’s fictional universe has been expanded to include a tie-in video game, Armies of Gielinor, and the novels Betrayal at Falador, Return to Canifis and Legacy of Blood.
Old School RuneScape, released on February 22, 2013, is a separate incarnation of RuneScape that is based on a 2007 version of RuneScape. The game regularly receives engine improvements, new content, and quality of life updates, which are decided by in-game polls. Old School RuneScape merges modern MMO mechanics with the point-and-click gameplay of early RPGs.
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