According to GamesIndustry, RuneScape developer Jagex recently hired Simon Etchells, a former executive at Microsoft’s Xbox division. Etchells’s duties at Microsoft’s Xbox division included being the product marketing manager EMEA First Party Xbox and overseeing the launch of first-party games for the Kinect. He had been an integral team member with many of Xbox’s popular titles, such as Forza, Gears of War, Fable, and Halo.
RuneScape was first released in 2001 and is a free-to-play MMO, utilizing Java to run the game within the user’s computer browser. The game was recognized by the Guinness World Records in 2010 to be the most popular free-to-play MMO with 10 million active users per month. Simon Etchells made this comment in regards to his new position:
“RuneScape’s success is second to none so it’s a great honour to be working on such a hugely popular and well-established IP. This is the one of the most exciting Marketing roles in the industry and I am looking forward to using the knowledge and experiences from my previous roles to help create the strategies which will further grow RuneScape’s popularity around the world.”
Jagex is based in the UK and has released several updates since RuneScape‘s initial release, the most recent being an HD update in 2008. David Solari, Jagex CMO, gave this statement:
“Simon has an impressive track record working on extremely successful games titles. His vast experience, coupled with a vast knowledge of games marketing, will help advance the marketing efforts for RuneScape as the game continues lead the market of free-to-play digital MMO’s this year and beyond.”
Analysis: This recent hire gives me a sneaking suspicion that there is something afoot at Jagex. RuneScape is already well-known, but Simon Etchells’s experience has been with new intellectual properties; and I think there might be a spin-off of RuneScape or a completely new intellectual property in the works at Jagex. I don’t expect to hear anything about it for at least several months because nothing happens overnight, but I do suspect it will have something to do with the RuneScape IP.