Natural Motion CEO Torsten Reil has said that marketing and PR campaigns for mobile games have absolutely no impact on the number of downloads of a title.
Speaking during Game Horizon in Newcastle today, Reil said that there's no worth in marketing a game in the traditional sense
"We learnt the hard way that we really needed to rethink marketing. I don't think it works at all," Reil told the audience.
"It has no impact that you can see for a big game when you run a dedicated, very well executed PR campaign, it does nothing, absolutely nothing. The download numbers that you're dealing with overall are so huge that any PR downloads that you create are just noise.
"The only thing you could argue is that maybe it gets you just over the hump to get a viral thing going. Whenever we've done PR and then not done PR there is no difference. It doesn't mean PR isn't useful in general, for the company, for recruitment, it should definitely have a role but I'm seeing more and more PR agencies for iPhone games realising that they don't actually move the needle anymore in terms of overall game downloads," he added.
There are much more successful ways to entice users to click on and download a game from app stores, according to Reil. Its most successful game, My Horse, has been downloaded over 11 million times, with concentrated design key to catching a users' eye.
"There are better ways of marketing a game and creating downloads. Some of these are how you use the App Store. We've found the name of the game is incredibly important in terms of discoverability," he said.
Natural Motion engages user testing of "several million" people to try out game names and icons. "The icon is your packaging," he said. "You can essentially double the number of downloads by getting these things right."
And viral marketing isn't dead, said Reil, as users still want to show off their latest games and apps to friends. Console developers with experience in high production values have a distinct advantage here, he added.
"You can go viral in the old fashioned way on these devices. People will go out to a pub and show your game to their friends if they really like it. Very often it's because of production values and overall graphics. This is where we have a huge opportunity. We always want to wow people. Whether the traditional gamer or the mass market gamer they want to show off what they have on their phone."