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NaturalMotion founder Torsten Reil leaves Zynga

COO David Byrne will act as interim boss

The founder and head of Zynga's NaturalMotion division has left the company.

Torsten Reil founded the business in Oxford in 2001 straight after leaving University. It was initially created as a software technology company, which became best known for developing tech for games such as GTA IV. It created its first game in 2009 for iPhone and has gone on to create huge hits such as CSR Racing. It was acquired by Zynga for $527m in 2014 to help the firm expand beyond the casual market.

Reil now leaves the business for personal reasons. COO David Byrne will act as interim boss for the studio.

"We want to thank Torsten for his many contributions to Zynga over the last three years," said Frank Gibeau, CEO of Zynga, in a statement. "Torsten built a great team and launched incredible franchises like CSR, Dawn of Titans and Clumsy Ninja. On a personal note, I've enjoyed working with Torsten in my time as a board member and CEO. We respect and support his decision to take a personal break after more than 15 years with NaturalMotion. We wish him all the best on his next chapter."

NaturalMotion's more recent game has been Dawn of Titans, which has been successful - albeit not to the levels of its peers. Gibeau told yesterday: "I'm very bullish on Dawn of Titans long-term. One of the cool things about the mobile market versus console or PC is the fact that a game can find its way into the charts over a couple of years, and you can build on it. While Dawn of Titans is out, it's doing well, it still hasn't reached its full potential; we haven't really cracked the code yet on how the Elder game, and the PvP and the alliances, the Titans, all come together and create magic. That's what we're really going after; we're trying to get to that right blend of features and content and services so that the game can reach its full potential.

"We're one quarter in on the title. It's one game in our lineup and if you look at what we've done with CSR and Poker, Poker is 10 years old and it's up 76% this year on bookings and up 78% on audience. That's 10 years later, and I'm not saying it's going to take 10 years for Dawn of Titans, but that's what's so beautiful about the mobile business is if you stick with it and you keep investing and innovating, you will find the market and you will find your full potential. The fact that there's not a lot of commentary on it isn't [a bad signal] - there's a lot of good stuff on other things. We love Dawn of Titans, we're investing in it, we're not giving up on it, and that's the perspective."

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Christopher Dring: Chris is a 17-year media veteran specialising in the business of video games. And, erm, Doctor Who
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