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Buyout fund Carlyle acquires UK online video game developer Jagex

Saleha Riaz
·2-min read
Photo: Runescape.com
The RuneScape franchise is worth around $1bn. Photo: Runescape.com

Investment firm The Carlyle Group (CG) announced on Monday it has acquired Jagex, a UK-based developer and publisher of video games, best known for its online role-playing game franchise RuneScape. Carlyle’s stock ticked down about 0.3% as markets opened in the US.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed but the deal is expected to be more than the $530m (£387m) Macarthur Fortune Holding paid for Jagex in April last year, which it bought from Shanghai Hongtou Network Technology through one of its funds, Platinum Fortune.

Jagex is headquartered in Cambridge and employs around 450 people. It “is one of the largest and most successful British video game studios, developing and publishing video games on PC and mobile,” Carlyle said in a statement.

It had revenues of £111m last year and gameprofits of £49m.

The RuneScape franchise is worth around $1bn and has attracted almost 300 million player accounts since its launch 20 years ago, Carlyle said, adding that 2020 saw record numbers of subscribing players, more than half of which are in the US.

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Jagex said it continued to invest in the creation of new content for the RuneScape franchise in 2020, commenced early-stage production of new games, and hired top-tier game development and publishing talent. This created more than 70 new job openings that grew headcount around 20% year-on-year.

Carlyle, which has around $230bn of assets under management, said it wants to leverage its global network, expertise and resources to support Jagex as it continues to drive growth by evolving its core RuneScape franchise through investment in research and development, as well as launching new titles to diversify its portfolio and engage with more players.

Phil Mansell, CEO of Jagex, said Carlyle shares his company’s “vision for growth, and will support us in accelerating our multi-year growth strategy. We will continue to expand our game teams to create and deliver more great content for RuneScape and Old School RuneScape.”

Meanwhile, Patrick McCarter, managing director at Carlyle, said “We have been impressed with Jagex’s market position, strong track record of revenue and market share growth, as well as the experience and passion of the team.”

In 2021, Jagex plans to launch RuneScape on mobile devices for both iOS and Android, and deliver cross-play functionality between the PC and mobile platforms.

It also plans to continue building out its game production teams for the development of new online games, in addition to expanding its publishing services for live games created by partner game studios under its third-party publishing division, Jagex Partners.

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