Telltale Games hired Pete Hawley as president and chief executive officer, and as of Sept. 18 replaces co-founder Dan Connors in top spot.

Connors, who started the San Rafael-based company with Kevin Bruner and Troy Molander in 2004, steps back into an advisory role. Connors was CEO for the first two years of the company, then turned that over to Bruner, who led the company until leaving in 2015.

With experience as a game designer and senior executive at gaming firms, Hawley is expected to “drive the next stage of evolution in interactive playable narrative, expand the global footprint, and develop new experiences to maximize the company’s reach,” according to the announcement.

“Pete has a solid track record of leadership and dedication to innovation,” said John Riccitiello, chairman of the board, in a statement. “His combination of vision and execution will be critical to the next stage of the company’s growth.”

Hawley was senior vice president and and general manager of games at Zynga, overseeing new innovative titles and technology investments during the recent turnaround for the publicly owned San Francisco-based firm. It had $741 million in revenue last year.

Before that, he was CEO and co-founder at augmented-reality and location-gaming pioneer Red Robot Labs, a Mountain View company started in 2011. Hawley has also held executive roles at social games leader CrowdStar and Electronic Arts.

Early in his career he ran production for Lionhead Studios working side by side with Peter Molyneux on innovative and visionary titles like Black & White and Fable.

"I am a huge fan of all Telltale Games and what they've achieved as a company in becoming the leading storytellers in gaming under the leadership of Dan and Kevin," said Hawley. "I look forward to working closely with Telltale Games' talented team, industry-leading IP (intellectual property) and partners to drive new ways to bring players together in innovative and exciting game content. Telltale is unique, and I'm thrilled to be a part of its amazing future."

Movie studio Lionsgate, which made a sizable investment in Telltale in 2015, pointed to Hawley as “widely regarded as a forward-looking executive with a strong grasp of where the interactive entertainment business is heading,” said Jon Feltheimer, Lionsgate CEO and a Telltale board member. “… With dynamic new leadership, a strong market position and a AAA roster of top intellectual property, Telltale has an exciting path forward, and the collaborative opportunities for our two content companies are greater than ever."

Telltale has sold over 40 million units and has been awarded over 100 Game of the Year awards. The company publishes products based on Robert Kirkman's “The Walking Dead,” also a highly rated AMC television series; Mojang's “Minecraft,” HBO's “Game of Thrones,” DC Comics’ “Batman,” Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and Vertigo’s “Fables.”

“We created Telltale because we saw a huge opportunity in bringing together world class storytelling and video games,” Connors said. “It has succeeded beyond our expectations, but it's just the tip of the iceberg. I am truly excited to add Pete's leadership and experience with innovation as we take the next step in the evolution of our products.”