Interviews

NaturalMotion's Torsten Reil on why NFL Rivals is its best looking sports game ever; no Backbreaker re-skin

Support your team all season long

NaturalMotion's Torsten Reil on why NFL Rivals is its best looking sports game ever; no Backbreaker re-skin
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| NFL Rivals

UK publisher NaturalMotion has just announced NFL Rivals: the next instalment in its multi-million selling American Football series for iPhone and Android devices.

So, wanting to find out more about the game, and the thinking behind making it an official product, we caught up with the company's very own quarterback, CEO Torsten Reil, and tapped him politely on the shoulder.

Pocket Gamer: What hoops do you have to jump through to get a NFL licence for Backbreaker?

Torsten Reil: We've been talking to the NFL since before the original Backbreaker came out on iPhone [September 2009]. Earlier this year, the discussions picked up again and both parties felt that there was a huge opportunity to bring accessible gameplay to a large audience of football fans.

Having said that, NFL Rivals is not a re-skin of Backbreaker. The game is all about supporting your team; every time you score, your points get uploaded to your team's global ranking, helping them climb to the top of the charts. The social aspect has been an important focus in the game, both for the NFL and for NaturalMotion.

Beyond the obvious, why is getting a licence important and what's the X-fold increase you expect in terms of downloads?

Our original Backbreaker games have already done well, with more than 7 million downloads so far. But it's true that an officially licensed game launched at the start of the NFL season has a special resonance with football fans.

This is especially true now that we can reach much larger, mainstream audiences, not just the hardcore. The iPhone market is evolving fast, so predictions are hard to make, but we're hoping NFL Rivals will continue to incrementally grow our user base.

How hard will it be technically to support the week-on-week progress of the NFL 2012 season?

We already know the pairings for the season's first ten games (i.e. before the playoffs), so we've been able to incorporate this into the game in advance.

For each week of the season, we then dynamically award bonus points when you play the equivalent match-up in NFL Rivals. This means that we can truly involve the player in the season's progression.

How hard will it be to support the game over iOS and Android?

One of the big differences between iOS and Android is the latter has a more fragmented hardware spec base. As a result, our quality assurance requirements are higher and it can take longer to get Android builds to the required quality.

We're doing our best to accommodate this and keep versions in sync.

Finally, what should fans of the Backbreaker games expect in terms of new features/graphics?

NFL Rivals is a different experience to Backbreaker and we think it's the best looking sports game we've done so far.

It features full, highly detailed NFL uniforms, with much higher polygon counts than we could run in previous games. NFL Rivals also features new stadia and new high quality lighting, as well as new tackles and player interactions.

Probably most importantly, all the content in NFL Rivals is new, from Waves to Challenges to social features.

Thanks to Torsten for his time.

NFL Rivals will be released for iPhone and Android on 8 September, priced $2.99, €2.39 or £1.99 on iOS, and $2.99 or local equivalent on Android.