NaturalMotion: We're not going to grow into a 'faceless giant'

You can expand and keep your identity, says Reil

NaturalMotion: We're not going to grow into a 'faceless giant'
When a mobile publisher with the prominence of NaturalMotion sets out to expand with new staff, we tend to notice – especially when said positions are pushed via our very own jobs board.

Nevertheless, there's no doubting NaturalMotion's current position as a powerhouse.

Thanks to the success of releases such as My Horse and CSR Racing, it's little surprise that the firm – which has UK bases in Oxford, London and Brighton – has become a first port of call when Apple is looking for a publisher to show off its new hardware.

Time to catch up with CEO Torsten Reil, then, for a handle on where NaturalMotion sees itself in the industry in 2012, and why he thinks the firm will be able to hold onto its identity even as its size swells.

Pocket Gamer: You've posted three jobs on the all at once. What's brought about this need to expand your staff?

Torsten Reil: We've been expanding rapidly for a while now, with around 10-15 new hires a month joining one of our offices, either Oxford, London, San Francisco or Brighton.

Of the three jobs we've recently posted on, the Product Lead position is the most unique. Product Leads are responsible for an entire game and its team, covering all areas from creative, design, monetisation and team leadership.

They're basically mini-CEOs. You need to be super-driven and open to learning. Experience in the industry is less important - we'll train you up.

What would you say are the unique qualities you look for when taking on NaturalMotion staff?

Above all, we're looking for candidates who are smart and enthusiastic.

This is an exciting time in games, and we're offering people the opportunity to get their title in front of tens of millions of people.

In return, we expect our staff to really care about product quality, to embrace learning, and to drive themselves and the team to deliver something they can look back at proudly.

Any plans to take on even more staff in the near future?

Absolutely. We're working on multiple super-exciting projects - across all our studios.

There's no lack of game ideas, but we're trying to be smart about how we grow. None of us want NaturalMotion to grow into a faceless giant.

My Horse

Instead, we're giving each internal game team maximum responsibility and identity, including a monthly social budget that they can spend on anything including drinks and dinners.

How do you view the UK development scene at the moment? What kind of health is it in?

The UK development scene has some of the best talent in the world, especially for high-end 3D content.

At the same time, it can sometimes place too much emphasis on core console experience over fast-paced learning of new platforms. Anyone able to embrace the new has the world at their feet!

As well as expanding externally, NaturalMotion has had a lot of success working with outside studios – most recently Boss Alien, pre-acquisition. What would you say NaturalMotion able to offer studios looking for a publisher that maybe others can't?

We were looking to place CSR Racing with a great development team so after meeting Jason and Tim, we helped them start Boss Alien and funded the studio from the very beginning to work exclusively on NaturalMotion projects.

Because of their open-mindedness, strong talent and team leadership, we were able to build something together that exceeded all of our expectations.

CSR Racing

Whilst we expect to provide full funding for external games and studios, our other main contribution is free-to-play game design experience and - in particular – monetisation knowledge.

This means we spend a lot of time with each external team, talking them through our existing NaturalMotion free-to-play cookbook, covering best practices as well as many types of secret sauce.

If a developer was looking to work with you, how best should they approach you?

Interested developers should contact us here, or directly tweet me at @torstenreil.

We have multiple game concepts that we're looking to place with AAA-quality development teams. In addition, we're also happy to discuss any existing ideas!
Thanks to Torsten for his time.

You can apply for positions at NaturalMotion and numerous other firms on the jobs board.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.