NZ-based games developer shatters glass ceiling
Runaway - New Zealand based global games developer and publisher - shatters glass ceiling as two female executives lead the business.
Managing Director Zoe Hobson will be joined by Creative Director Emma Johansson in what will become a female-led games studio.
Emma joins the leadership team from her former role as Art Director after 8 years with the Dunedin-based business, an opportunity for which she left her native Sweden to make the South Island city her home.
Emma will fill the role left by outgoing Creative Director and founder, Tim Nixon.
Emma describes her creative aspirations and growth potential for the studio, as well as a desire to inspire more girls to join what she believes is a booming industry that not only wants, but needs, more women in its ranks;
“Creatively I want Runaway to continue working on the ethos we’ve built so far, creating games our players trust and feel emotionally connected to, while supporting the communities that grow around them.
Being a smaller studio we don't have the same budgets as some of the large mobile games publishers, so to stand out we need to take risks and be bold and innovative with our ideas and games. We have the freedom to explore new technologies like AR and VR, but we also believe that the full potential of mobile gaming is yet to be achieved. So we are excited about the future, creating the best ideas and bringing them to life.
If we want to create casual games for an inclusive audience, games that truly reflect and fulfill the human experience, then we need input behind the scenes from as diverse - and skilled - a talent pool as we can find.
On the consumer side, women are growing as a player base segment in their own right. In fact 80% of our players are female. We want to make more games that everyone can enjoy. To do that, we need women to feel confident joining the industry and making the games they want to play. It’s an issue I’m very passionate about.”
Runaway has enjoyed rapid growth in recent years.
Three successful mobile game titles (Flutter: Butterfly Sanctuary, Flutter: Starlight and Splash: Ocean Sanctuary) are enjoyed by over a quarter of a million players each month from the US, across Europe, to China and Japan.
With a Virtual Reality title launching in December and a new mobile game in the works for launch mid-2018, the team has recruited a raft of new talent.
The studio’s growing staff roster required a bigger space and this month Runaway will move, for the first time in its history, to a designated new space on Stafford Street - part of the Petridish development at one of the city’s historic buildings.
Runaway started life under the wings of NHNZ in 2010 as its gaming division, where the first game Flutter (on the Facebook platform) proved that there was global demand for a portfolio of “games inspired by nature.”
Under the direction of leader Tim Nixon the fledgling studio worked to create mobile games that were uniquely based on nature, beautifully designed, with the aim of bringing joy to players’ lives.
Runaway went on to develop games in partnership with National Geographic, the World Wildlife Fund, and more recently, the global mega-publisher DeNA.
In 2015 the company made the move to self-publishing bringing in-house more elements like player support and user acquisition, doubling their staff and revenue in the process.
Now the changing leadership follows New Zealand entrepreneur Tim Nixon’s announcement that he will move to Los Angeles to start a new challenge as Creative Director, Online with That Game Company, confident that he leaves the company he built in capable hands with an exciting future ahead of it;
“To be able to confidently pass on the mantle, knowing the vision for Runaway is in such good hands, is easily the proudest moment of my career. I can’t wait to see where Zoe, Emma and the rest of the team go next.”
Tim will continue to advise and mentor the Runaway team from his new position in Los Angeles as he sits on the newly independant company’s Board of Directors.