The free-to-play strategy titan is focused on its gameplay, not its revenues
The free-to-play mobile strategy game market is hardly short of options, but few match up to the biggest hitters in the genre, which Supercell has the handy knack of supplying. Clash Of Clans man
Jonas Collaros tells us how the company keeps its games at the top of the charts.
Clash Of Clans has been an incredible success, and spawned lots of imitators. What do you think is its secret sauce?
Well, I think when people are trying to figure out what’s the secret recipe, it’s quite often that they look in the wrong places. They look very much at the values that we put in our billing packages and the values we put in the troops in the game, and things like that, but in reality it’s not a numbers thing. It’s hard to quantify. I would say a lot of the strength of the Clash Of
Clans team comes directly from the Supercell culture as a whole. It’s partly about keeping the team really small – the original team was just five or six people, and it’s still only 15 people. It’s been something we’ve been completely uncompromising about the entire time. Having a small team that’s very independent and has passionate developers that play and care about the game is really the secret. It sounds a bit fluffy, but lots of times, when you’re deciding what the next features of the game will be, and what our next release is going to look like, you have to have this sense for what feels good not only as a developer but also as a player. For me, it’s mostly about the fact that we all play the game and care about the game – we’re designing it from the perspective of players as well, and we want to enjoy the changes that we’re making. It’s very, very rare that we spend time in our day-to-day work talking about monetisation models and retention funnels and things like that. I mean, they’re very important graphs, but at the end of the day we’re focused on designing the game.
It’s easy to focus on the successes, but has it always been smooth sailing?
No, that’s pretty much the universal thing in the game industry – it’s never always smooth sailing; there’s always something you can be doing better, and there’s almost always something that you’re doing wrong. One thing that we’ve been trying to get better at is making the company more flexible in terms of getting new ideas out and getting new games out there. There’s no shortage of ideas, and lots of prototypes come up all the time, but very few of them ever make it to a beta stage. So a lot of discussion at the company has been about how we can get faster with this. How do we find the good ideas faster? How do we kill the bad ideas faster? How do we get people who are interested in the right ideas together at the right times? And how do we manage this with the live games, and the successes that we have at the moment? That’s a very difficult challenge, especially for such a small company, and we’ve been constantly having to improve.
Other companies with Supercell’s revenues might well have released more games by now, right?
This way of working is very much more geared towards making games that will last in the long term, games that we can work on for the long term. I can’t see us working in a mode of just throwing out games as fast as we can just because we have a lot of momentum and we want to sort of burn through it. That’s very much contradictory to the sort of long-term approach we want to take.
With 150 employees, Supercell may be one of the biggest studios in Finland today, but its individual game teams are kept small for a reason
Founded 2010 Employees 150 URL supercell.com
Selected softography Hay Day, Clash Of Clans, Boom Beach
Current projects TBA
All of Supercell’s games, including the monster that is Clash Of Clans, are built to last, which means ever-evolving feature sets