Clash Royale turns 5: Looking back at the journey over the years

Five years of Tower Defense entertainment

Five years. A long span of time for a game indeed, but is it easy to maintain the level of consistency that was initially promised? Often, answers for these questions might be not confident and can be negative, but there’s this company named Supercell, which against all odds, has been instrumental in delivering the best quality games on mobile. One of their critically acclaimed and top downloaded games is the popular Strategy game Clash Royale, which as of 2nd March 2021, has completed half-a-decade since the day of its debut to mobile devices. So, in this article, we look to fall back 5 years to the past and see how Clash Royale has changed and progressed over the years.

Clash Royale: Announcement, Gameplay, and in-game items


Although the celebration of the game’s 5th anniversary was on March 2nd, Clash Royale got its first display of gameplay to the gamers dated 5 years back on 4th January 2016. Soft launched in selected countries on iOS in Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, and New Zealand, the game was instantly sought by many Supercell fans, who thought it to be another smasher strategy hit as their previous two titles launched prior. On February 16th, the soft launch for Android was officially confirmed, in the same countries as the iOS release.


Clash Royale followed a Tower defense strategy where players are pit against real-time opponents, faced with the task to take down the maximum towers possible, for a battle time of three minutes, after which a 2-minute overtime period is added if both of the players/teams have an equal number of crowns or none. Again, the player who destroys an opposing tower wins instantaneously. But under this case again, if either of the players is unable to pull a victory, the match is a draw if two towers have the same health, and a tiebreaker in case of tournaments where all towers rapidly lose health, and the tower with the least health is destroyed to get you the winner of that match.

Three towers were Clash Royale’s road to victory, where the centerpiece among these was the King Tower. The King Tower unsurprisingly holds the highest value, where once this tower is achieved by the opponent, he gets an instant win. Each of these was represented by crowns, and once damaged, they get accumulated on the scorecard of the player.

Cards, Arenas and Chests

The game was F2P friendly, as all you had to do with it was to collect as many cards as possible, while you try out your best 8-card combination called a Deck. Each deck has its own strategy, and players would have to find out what suits them the best. This wasn’t the ideal case scenario, because you had to pay gold for battles and friendly ones too.

A total of 42 cards were initially launched, from which these were divided as Common, Rare, and Epic rarities. Each rarity had 14 cards each divided among them. Some of the card designs supposedly were inspired by their smash hit Clash of Clans game, while in the future, some Clash Royale cards were also introduced to Clash of Clans. The list of the first 42 are given according to their rarities below:

BomberMini PekkaBaby Dragon
ArchersMusketeerSkelton Army
Speak GoblinsGoblin HutLightning
GoblinsValkryieGoblin Barrel
SkeletonsTombstoneGiant Skeleton
MinionsBomb TowerBalloon
BarbariansBarbarian HutX-bow
TeslaInferno TowerFreeze
Minion HordeHog RiderPekka
MortarElixir CollectorGolem

Each of them had themselves valued with the game fuel, the Elixir. It was on a scale of 1-9. To get the player to unlock these cards, he had to go through winning 1v1 matches and climb up the trophies to unlock different Arenas. It had 6 Arenas initially: Goblin Stadium (Arena 1), Bone Pit (Arena 2), Barbarian Bowl (Arena 3), P.E.K.K.A’s Playhouse (Arena 4), Spell Valley (Arena 5), and Royal Arena (Arena 6, which required 1,700 trophies then), along with a Training Camp. The other Arenas were added along with their major updates. Along with this, a Chest would yield the player some gold, gems, and cards, depending upon their rarities.

Launch and Improvements

Official Launch and Initial updates

Clash Royale became widely popular within the areas of launch, as was positively reviewed by the ones who played. Supercell, notoriously known for cutting off games while development, found the game idea promising, and continued to give updates until Clash Royale’s launch was official globally on 2nd March 2020.

Version 1.1.0 of Clash Royale had notable balance changes, with the OGs remembering how X-Bow was a terror among the masses because of its both air and ground damage, and X-Bow decks were frequently put on while you were battling. It also saw the introduction of the Legendary Arena, unlocked at 3000 trophies and Seasons, where for every two weeks, players above 3000 Trophies will be reset to 3000, and all deducted trophies were awarded as Legend Trophies.

Another major update came with Version 1.2.0 with the release of New Cards, New Arena, and Multiple Battle Decks. Six new cards were added in this update and a new rarity called Legendary was introduced, with the announcement of Ice Wizard and Princess. A new arena called Builder’s Workshop which unlocks at 1700 Trophies, while moving the Royal Arena to 2000.

May 2016 update saw some more changes such as moving Legendary level cap: 5 (from 6), Rare level cap: 11 (from 10), Common level cap: 13 (from 12), and King level cap: 13 (from 12). Three more Legendary cards were added to the set: Lava Hound, Miner, and Sparky. The shop also gave players the chance to buy Legendary cards from the shop using gold.

Tournaments were introduced to the game in Version 1.4.0 at level 8. A new arena called Frozen Peak unlocks at 2300 Trophies, along with two more legendary cards: The Log and the Lumberjack. This was followed by some balance changes until September’s major update.

In the September and November 2016 updates, some Legendary cards were added along with a new Challenge Mode and Special Event Challenges. In the December update in the same year, Jungle Arena was announced which unlocks at 2600 trophies but was not available till January 2017.

As a part of the first anniversary of Clash Royale, a major update was released which added a lot of fresh features. In the March 2017 Version 1.8.0 update, a new league was announced with 4000 trophies, which gave players with ranked trophies, all the way upto the Ultimate Champion League. Leagues were as follows:

  • Challenger: Challenger I (4000 Trophies), Challenger II (4300), and Challenger III (4600).
  • Master: Master I (4900 Trophies), Master II (5200), and Master III (5500).
  • Champion: Champion (5800 Trophies), Grand Champion (6100), and Ultimate Champion (6400).

2v2 Modes and Clan Wars

The mode of 2v2 was first introduced as Clan Battles, which gave players another fresh mode. The first Clan Battle Chest event started on 24/3/17.

The next big update was in June 2017, which came with new 2v2 modes, and also with a lot of balance changes to the cards. It also introduced a lot of amazingly interesting challenges as the 3x Elixir challenges, Sudden Death challenge, and Ramp Up challenge. The Mega Knight was brought into the game as a Legendary card, which was at the time, became instantly popular. You could add friends, add more decks, and more in this update.

Version 2.0.0 saw an Epic Quests Update which had rewards like Super Magical and Legendary Chests. The introduction of Quests made way for Achievements to be removed from the game. A sporty game mode without towers, Touchdown, was added to the game. A Chat system and Rematch options were added after a player finished their 2v2 battle, while the former had nothing but preset messages which was a little annoying.

2v2 Chat System

The Electrifying 2.1.0 update along with the Clan Wars 2.1.1 update were major updates between December 2017 and April 2018. While the former introduced the Electro Valley unlocked at 3400 Trophies, pushing Legendary Arena as Arena 12, the April update introduced the Clan Wars system to the game (at level 8). Clan Wars rewarded players with Clan Chests once the war ended, which gave you a lot of rewards depending upon the performance of your clan and individual. Moreover, a Lightening Chest gave a chance for accumulating cards of your choice among the available options. During the same time, Supercell ID was added as an account link option.

In 2018, Balance changes were the frequent updates that kept happening, where in-between Goblin and Archer Emotes were added to the game, which can be added in Clan Chats as well. June 2018 update added the emote deck, allowing players to use up to eight emotes from their emote collection. War Chests got a boost in rewards, some tweaks in 1v1 battles. Trade tokens were introduced in the September 2018 update. The December 2018 update introduced Star Levels, which gave Maxed out cards a new look. Global Tournaments with better rewards were added and thus came with a lot of boost to the competition alongside building the player base to be more competitive.

Clash Royale 5 years
Star Levels

Until April 2019, these balance changes kept on continuing, but with the April 19 major update, a lot of new features came into the picture. Trophy Road was added as a brand new way to progress in Clash Royale 1v1 Ladder Battles. Players could collect rewards as they earn Trophies and progress through the Arenas. New Games modes: Mega Deck, Elixir Capture, and Dragon Hunt; were introduced. The Event Tab was also useful to gather all the happenings in the game and check all those events whenever players needed them.

Pass Royale, Clan War II and Present

July 2019 update gave players an option to obtain the Pass Royale. It was the first season, and since then for every Pass Royale season, this continued. For players who have bought the Pass Royale, all these Chests, along with the Crown Chests, have Strikes unlocked through the rewards. A new Arena was added, Fisherman’s Float as a skin of Legendary Arena. Two new game modes, Take To The Skies and Wild Fisherman, were added.

While the seasons continued, the End of September update was a major update, among them was the Leadership change. Inactive Clan Leaders will now have their Leader role to the longest-serving Co-leader. This will happen after 35 days of inactivity (warning messages will be sent 14 days and 3 days before they are rotated). If there is no Co-leader, the Leader role will be given to the longest-serving Elder. A new Party! Button was also added, to play the game as a fun element without risking trophies in battles. In October 2019, a free emote became available to anyone who links their account to their email through Supercell ID.


Updates continued by introducing several Tower Skins, Exclusive Emotes, Level Boosts, and Balance Changes. The August announcement of Clan Wars II was a surprise element, while the previous Clan Wars model was replaced by the new one. It was a new model, where it had games and features within like the River Race, Clan Boat, Trader, and more. Balance changes to the Clan Wars were made convenient to the global audience.

The updates continued, and for this Birthday Month, a Birthday Card tower skin is being offered in the Pass Royale.

Clash Royale: Revenue and Achievements over the years


After its launch in 2016, Clash Royale got off to a flier by attracting an audience all across the globe. The revenue generations weren’t keen as expected, but gradually they increased to a greater extent. Just within a year since release, Sensor Tower reports suggested that Clash Royale generated more than $1 billion in less than a year on the market. The growth was found at a higher rate compared to Clash of Clans at the time, the game from the same house.

In the year 2018, Clash Royale generated close to around $600 million, again a good number considering the slow pace of the game during the mid-year phase. By three years, Clash Royale garnered over $2.5 billion overall, which grew to $3 million during the mid-year 2020.


Clash Royale has been one of the fastest-growing games at the time of release. It is one of the fastest mobile games to reach 10 million downloads worldwide and currently has a place among the top-most downloaded games in the world. It also won accolades such as the Best Game award at the Google Play Awards; Best Upcoming Game, and Best Multiplayer Game awards at the International Mobile Gaming Awards; AMD eSports Audience Award at the British Academy Games Awards.


Clash Royale Esports is a growing process, in the form of Clash Royale League (CRL) which hosts CR World Championships across the world. It started on August 20, 2018, kickstarting Season 1 of the CRL. The teams are divided into regions, while the top-seeded teams from each region will battle for one big championship award in the World Finals. The game is a part of an Esport demonstration event during Asian Games 2018 held in Indonesia. Eight countries were able to participate after having qualified from their respective regional qualification with Indonesia automatically qualified as host, eventually winning the competition. The recent announcement of Clash Royale esports plans for 2021 is also aiming to have a large budget and audience.

Clash Royale: The next 5 years to complete a decade

Clash Royale without a doubt has been very popular and has been consistent in retaining its players. But has it been very consistent in terms of offering content that keeps many hooked or fetches new players into the gaming circuit? There is a slight doubt on that. It is undoubtedly sure of Supercell to recognize this and find a solution to the slow fading of this marvelous game once loved by all, but on an honest note, this won’t be able to keep the game which is right now on balancing on one leg. Developers did try out new content to get their beloved fans the things they love in the game, but it has gone in vain for the past few months.

Of course, not the first time Clash Royale saw a dry spell by lacking interesting features or events within the game, leaving out some loyal players across the world without force. The game could not keep the players hooked, and thus had to introduce something catchy, which they did by getting an option to mute emotes. It worked. It was what the fans wanted, and Clash Royale gave it to them. 5 years old journey of Clash Royale has reminded us from time to time of the blossoming time period of the game whenever the company has listened to the masses.

The next half of the decade is a bigger challenge. While Clan Wars II isn’t the kind of success they initially expected it to be, the alternatives for the same mode are none at the time. To generate revenue, Pass Royale isn’t attractive enough for an average user. Battles are not fun anymore, decks aren’t getting a lot of attention either. Once you go on stacking up your resources, there is nothing to play for too. Supercell should try to come up with a system that can engage both competitors and the average gamers to get the best out of all types of players. They have the brain, the resources, and the market. You can’t recycle events, it is too late to continue them again. The best possible way is to bring something innovative for the longer term with subtle changes. It has started with the recent matchmaking changes announcement, and we hope this continues, 5 years should be the target of Clash Royale. The industry is the case of the Survival of the Fittest, you can’t be the best until you create something that stands out from the rest.

What is your opinion on Clash Royale turning 5 years old? Mention it in the comment section below!

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The nostalgia is real…

Jason Daugherty

Been playing 4 years. It’s a good game.

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