RIGHT now, the games industry is being disrupted. And according to Torsten Reil, it's being disrupted in a giddying number of ways.
The CEO of NaturalMotion believes it’s no longer just about how much more power you’re going to get from the upcoming generation of consoles.
“When we used to think about next generation, it was always about getting more power,” he says. “It was always down to hardware, but then the iPhone arrived like a comet hitting the earth.
“It didn’t just disrupt the hardware, but everything else in the industry.”
Reil span out NaturalMotion while researching for a PhD in complex systems at Oxford University’s zoology department, and NaturalMotion technology has been used to animate characters in games including Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption.
However, NaturalMotion also has a mobile games company, which has created titles such as Backbreaker and My Horse. Reil says the industry is being disrupted in terms of hardware, distribution, business models, content, feedback and analytics.
“It’s a very dangerous time, but also a time that has great opportunity,” he says.
Reil has a range of advice for people looking to create games. He urges them to be unique, to appreciate that people play mobile games more often in short chunks, to pay attention to the need for a social experience and to know your audience. He adds it’s also important to simplify the experience – a lesson he learned while making high-selling American Football title Backbreaker.
“We had a lot of buttons in Backbreaker at the beginning. People got incredibly confused.”
Other words of advice include using analytics to test and improve your title, and make people feel better about themselves rather than humiliating them with punishing gameplay.
He also disagreed with the view that it was important to release quickly and improve from there. Many developers talk about the importance of the Minimum Viable Product, in which you release a basic version of something and then expand or update it when you’ve got people’s attention. However, Reil conversely believes the MVP is “dead” and urges people to “polish” their titles until they’re ready. NaturalMotion’s title My Horse gives players a chance to look after their own horse and focused on creating a highly visual experience with eye-catching graphics.
“There was a time when you could put out a game and get a bit of traffic and make it better. You can’t do that anymore, particularly on iOS.”
However, the main thing Reil knows about the next generation is it probably isn’t going to be what people expect.
“Be ready to adapt. What it is will change over time.”