Jagex’s Mansell on why community is everything

You’ve been the CEO of Jagex for 18 months now – what’s the biggest thing you’ve learnt?

Something I always considered previously and which has become even more apparent now as CEO, is that everything we do is connected to people. Vision, creativity, technology, processes… those are all of course important, but talented and empowered people make the critical difference. This is why we’re doing so much to invest in people at Jagex and why recruitment is so important to our growth plans. The point about people also ties to our player communities too, how we always strive to break down barriers between us, as game makers, and the community as game players connecting the people involved in each.

RuneScape launched all the way back in 2001 and it’s Jagex’s best known title, even after all of this time. Does this put Jagex in a unique position in the industry?

Yes, for sure. RuneScape is one of the longest standing MMORPGs, and the fact the community is still growing says a lot for the investment our players have made in the RuneScape universe and the community. 

The 17 years of running and evolving the RuneScape franchise has given us a unique understanding of how to successfully operate big online games. RuneScape was one of the first big free- to-play games in western markets and we’ve continued that pioneering spirit with our initiatives in community empowerment, events, esports and livestreaming. We’ve evolved it year-on-year, ultimately turning a live game into a living game. 

Live games are big business now, what advice would you give developers looking to get involved in live operations for the first time?

Development is only one part of the business – the actual operation of running a successful live game is a complex and specialist challenge for any studio. Over the years we’ve adapted and built bespoke backend services and systems, established all the support services required for a live game – billing, data science and analytics, community management, player lifecycle management, events, marketing, and 24/365 ustomer support.

Running a living game is so much more than maintaining an online presence. It’s our expertise, and now we’re expanding our publishing division and talking to other studios to explore publishing partnerships for their games – so the key advice would be to come and talk to us!

Jagex has raised a lot of money for mental health charities, do you think big companies have a responsibility to give back?

Yes! We have found success through the trust and dedication of our player communities, and this drives us to do our bit and give something back. Jagex’s Charitable Giving initiative has raised more than £225,000 for our three chosen mental health charities in its first year, and our generous RuneScape communities have supported us in achieving this.

What has been one of the hardest parts of your job?

There are so many opportunities in gaming, and the challenge is to pick the right ones at the right time. We’re fortunate to have a strong heritage, funds and flexibility, and while it can be tempting to jump into tons of new things, we are ensuring we stay sensibly ambitious and retaining focus on what we can do well.

What can we expect from Jagex over the next 12 months?

Our biggest milestone will be taking both RuneScape and Old School RuneScape to mobile devices – in full and with completely interoperable play between PC and mobile. We’re also progressing our third-party publishing strategy, which is part of our long-term vision to become the home of living games. 

We’ve learnt a lot over the years, about nurturing player communities, running robust services at scale, monetisation, customer relationship management, marketing automation and social media, that we feel we can use to support other developers and bring their live games to market. It’s an exciting element of Jagex’s future.

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