In the Plenary area of PAX Australia, Jackbox Games is showcasing a selection from their Party Packs with attendees sunken into multi-coloured bean bags surrounding the Jackbox screen. If you are unfamiliar with Jackbox Party Packs, they are a collection of five party games that you can stream via PC or console and your mates can use their phone to play along. Throughout the 3 day convention, the Jackbox bean bags are usually full, which is a testament to how engaging and fun Jackbox Party Packs are every single year.
When I chat with Mike Bilder, Jackbox’s CEO and Evan Jacover, the company’s CTO, we’re also sitting on bean bags, just close by to where the PAX Jackbox area is. We start by talking a bit about Jackbox’s history and how it all started with the video game “You Don’t Know Jack”, a trivia game with singular games that focused on different topics, such as a TV trivia game, sporting trivia game, etc. Then in 2013 the studio rebranded and created the Party Pack structure that made them even more of a household name. Bilder tells me that they did this so that their fans would get more bang for their buck and because they thought their team had more to offer than simply gamifying general knowledge.
Bilder and Jacover also aren’t strangers to PAX Australia; they have flown down from their headquarters in Chicago for most of the convention’s 10-year run. When discussing their 10th year, I ask Bilder and Jacover about what the formula is that has led Jackbox to stick around for a decade. They are quick to agree with me that all their games need to be funny; whether that be dark, sarcastic, or slapstick; if it’s a Jackbox game it needs to include some element of humour. “Anyone on the team can pitch ideas” Bilder comments, showing the faith they have in their team and also their formula of keeping ideas fresh and ultimately, fun!
“…their first foray into rhythm games has been one of excitement and positivity.”
Their 10th Party Pack contains five brand new games, including a sequel, Tee K.O. 2, along with FixyText, a group chat-inspired texting game, Hypnotorious, a roleplaying hidden identity game and Timejinx, a trivia game about past decades. What is arguably the most interesting game in the bunch however is Dodo Re Mi, Jackbox’s first rhythm game. Jacover and Bilder tell me it took a little while to get the mechanics spot on for this new one, but they said that the response at PAX Australia 2023 to their first foray into rhythm games has been one of excitement and positivity.
Throughout the three-day conference, I saw Jacover and Bilder always in the Jackbox area, surrounded by people enjoying their games. During our interview, they constantly mention their fans and how important it is for them to make a product that even their technologically inept parents can get around and enjoy. At the crux of it, Jackbox Party Packs are all about bringing people together without the confinements of technology, meaning that all you need is a phone to be involved in the fun that Jackbox brings.
The Jackbox Party Pack 10 is out now on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 4 and 5 and Nintendo Switch.