Four of UK games development’s self-made men feature in The Sunday Times’ 2008 Rich List – Andrew and Paul Gower, heads of Runescape studio Jagex, Traveller’s Tales founder Jon Burton and former Rare owner Chris Stamper.
At joint 746th on the list, alongside property magnates and pharmaceutical barons, brothers Andrew and Paul Gower are ranked with a worth of £109m. The two run the Cambridge-based studio Jagex, which is responsible for the Runescape browser-based MMO.
The Sunday Times book says the Gowers have a £104m stake in the business and ‘other assets’. Their ranking puts them £3m righer than their value listed last year, but just under a few hundred places lower than 2007’s list, in which they were joint 654th.
Andrew Gower, at just 29 years old (his brother Paul is 31), is also the fifth-youngest on the rich list.
Traveller’s Tales MD Jon Burton and former Rare owner (and co-founder) Chris Stamper are further down the list at joint 969th and said to be worth £80m each alongside the likes of Faceparty’s founder and other publishing, media and finance whizzes.
Burton is a new entry on the list – the ranking says he owned a 78 per cent stake in parent firm TT Games, so cashed in big time when Warner Bros acquired the outfit in November. (Although it’s worth noting that some industry insiders claim TT sold for a greater sum, so his position on the list could well be a more conservative estimate – the list is self-described as "estimates of the minimum wealth". It’s also worth noting that Traveller’s Tales was the only UK studio in the top 10 of our Develop 100.)
Chris Stamper, meanwhile, makes the list due to family wealth – all of which was accrued during the sale of his studio Rare to Microsoft back in 2002. He’s higher up the list than last year, however, where he was ranked at 834th (although still with an £80m estimated wealth).
Beating them all via wealth made from computer games – albeit the retailing of them – is UK chain GAME’s founder Irishman Neil Taylor. He has an estimated wealth of £153m built from the floatation and subsequent sale of the business in 1999 – although that money (£47.8m The Times says) has since been invested, hence his higher value.
Of course, none of them hold a gold-plated candle to the richest on the list – steel company owner Lakshmi Mittal and family, at £27,700m in wealth and number one in the ranking.
Other big names like Harry Potter-auhor J. K. Rowling (144th, £560m wealth), artist Damien Hurst (jointh 397th, £200m wealth), and music mogul Simon Cowell (717th, £112m wealth) are also ahead of the developers above (but not GAME founder Taylor).
The games gurus listed above, however, do beat out the likes of singer Kylie Minogue and author Terry Pratchett, both ranked at joint 1,764th – outside the 1,000 – and with wealth of £40m each.