Supercell’s success story is now a dream for most of the gaming developers in the current run. The company celebrated its 10th birthday in May 2020. The Finnish company started from a small idea of developing internet game to producing the biggest hits in the mobile gaming sector. Just like any successful venture, Supercell did have their peaks and valleys, but it did not stop their growth. We all know the popular games from Supercell, but only a few of them know the backstory. This article is a small effort to look back at Supercell’s 10th anniversary to read their journey of success.
While most of them would love reading market statistics that Supercell achieved throughout the years, we’ve just kept it simple by avoiding too many bar graphs and numbers. The article will focus on the journey of Supercell over the last 10 years, the games and non-geek stuff.
In the summer of 2010, Supercell was founded by two game developers, Mikko Kodisoja and Ilkka Paananen. Along with them, Petri Styrman, Lassi Leppinen, Visa Forstén, and Niko Derome were also the joint founders of the company. Their first office was in Niittykumpu in Espoo, Finland.
Before the idea behind Supercell, Kodisoja and Paananen worked for Sumea, a mobile company. Sumea had popular releases like Snow Jam, Street Soccer, Freestyle X etc. to name a few. The company was later acquired by Digital Chocolate. However, both left the company in early 2010, thinking plans about their next venture, which was Supercell in the end.
Kodisoja and Paananen together invested 250,000 euros in the company. Tekes, a government’s technology funding agency in Finland, loaned them a further 400,000 euros. Lifeline Ventures, where Paananen was an advisor and investor, also invested in Supercell. The following October, Supercell raised 750,000 euros through seed funding including from London Venture Partners and Initial Capital.
Initial Launches from Supercell
Their first game which got a release called Gunshine.net. It was a real-time multiplayer online role-playing game. This was a browser game. In February 2011, the private beta version of Gunshine.net was ready. Few months later, the open beta launched. The team later launched the mobile version of the game as well.
In November 2011, Supercell abandoned Gunshine. The team later said that Gunshine just wasn’t delivering on their original product vision. Also, it did not interest players for long enough, more felt bore on halfway through. It was found too difficult to play. The mobile version was a failure, unlike the browser version. At the time, the game had over half a million players.
Interest on iPad and launch of series of games
The Supercell team decided to focus on the mobile games only, which was their primary vision. On trying iPad for the first time, they called it “the ultimate games platform”. They started to understand just how different this platform truly was. They planned to create the best possible games for this platform. But during this process, another project idea named ‘Magic’ was dropped. The team worked for 6 months and it was a tough task to stop it all of a sudden.
Games were launched simultaneously thereafter. Pets vs Orcs became the first direct-to-mobile game from Supercell. It had a beta launch earlier. But the game didn’t last long. Just like ‘Magic’, another game development of codeword ‘Tower’ was scrapped.
Another launch was Battle Buddies in 2012. It had a soft-launch. However, despite gaining positive reviews from critics, the game was shut down within months. With this, Supercell didn’t enjoy much success until 2012.
Hay Day: The first hit from Supercell
The team then focused on developing a farming simulator game, under the codename ‘Soil’. This had around 10 people working on it. The game was later launched as Hay Day. The beta release went live in Canada in May 2012. Unlike other Supercell’s previous releases, the game was received well. There was a lot of activity and this made the team to release the game. Hay Day was launched globally on June 21st, 2012.
In four months after release Hay Day became one of the most profitable games in Apple’s App Store in the US, and was one of the most profitable in the world for two and a half years.
Clash of Clans: The biggest hit of Supercell
Whilst enjoying the success of Hay Day, the team was working on the previous project which was scrapped earlier, which was Magic. The ideas the game was planned by Leppinen and Louhento. They wanted to make a strategy game that would use a touch screen. Hence this would enable a pleasant user experience. However, Magic was launched globally on August 2, 2012, with the name of Clash of Clans. This was a massive hit. Within three months, it became the most profitable app in the US. It was not only Supercell’s greatest success but also one of the most downloaded games for Android and iOS.
For three straight years, Clash of Clans was on the top in the list of most profitable games in the world. Both Clash of Clans and Hay Day became great successes for Supercell.
New Offices and other games
Team Supercell moved to their Helsinki office in early 2013. Due to their growing profits, they setup offices at Seoul, Korea and Tokyo, Japan. The team starting working on several other projects. Another PVP tactical shooting game titled Battle Buddies was under development before the setup. However, the game never garnered enough player interest to move out of beta, so this was dissolved.
Spooky Pop and Smash Land were the other two games which were removed after the beta release. Both the games were after Boom Beach.
It was their 3rd game which had a global release. The designing phase was in progress since 2012. The beta version of the game was put into test in 2013. Although the developers thought this would face the same fate like other dropped ideas, it did not. On March 26, 2014, the game was globally released and made available to both Android and iOS. The game was another hit, even though not as big as Clash of Clans. In a few months, Boom Beach crossed Hay Day in terms of total downloads.
On January 4, 2016, Supercell soft-launched Clash Royale on iOS. The game had the use of similar characters from Clash of Clans. On public demand, Supercell on February 16, 2016, soft-launched the game on Android in select countries. They were Finland, Hong Kong, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Canada and New Zealand. On March 2, 2016, Supercell launched the game globally for iOS and Android.
Players loved the tower defense strategy game. The game had a huge first year, gaining a considerable amount of profit. The competition was more compared to Clash of Clans. However, the game has continuously declining, following the lack of depth and newer ideas. But still, it stands strong as far as active users are concerned.
The developers’ team of Supercell had started with the idea Brawl Stars in 2016. On June 14, 2017, Supercell announced Brawl Stars via a video on YouTube. It had a soft launch on iOS. This was limited to Canada only. It was released in the Finland, Sweden and Norway iOS App Stores on January 19, 2018. The Android soft launch was released on June 26, 2018 in select countries; Americas: Canada, Europe: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Ireland and Asia: Singapore, Malaysia, China.
In December, Supercell released Brawl Stars globally, for both Android and iOS. It has a simple, skill-based gameplay which adds a lot of fun element in it. The game did have a good boost in the beginning, but again the decline is visible.
Rush Wars and Hay Day Pop
On 26th August, 2019, Supercell announced the beta release of their new game, Rush Wars. It was a PvP fast-paced action strategy game. The testing of the game was in Finland, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. However, just within 2 months of the news, Supercell announced that Rush Wars is being closed. The reason was with feedback of players with the game feeling repetitive, even after some updates the requirements was not met.
Recent developments were seen on Mar 16, 2020, with the news of Hay Day Pop being in Beta. Hay Day Pop is a match-and-solve puzzle game. You will collect exclusive rewards and use them to build your own slice of country paradise. Level up your farm by planting crops, growing and decorating your farm to upgrade. Currently in soft launch, the game is available on iOS and Android devices in Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Canada and Finland.
Not only these, from the last talk of Ikka we got a hint that many new games are on the pipeline. And we maybe seeing some of them in the beta later this year.
Some excerpts from the Supercell team
We have picked some lines that felt really worthy to mention, from the Supercell team.
What we see as an individual
“We’d like to think that every failure is a unique opportunity to learn, and every lesson will ultimately make us better at what we do. That’s why we have a tradition of celebrating these lessons by having fun, like having champagne. For us, it’s clear that releasing hit games is having to take big risks. And by definition, taking those risks means that you’ll fail more often than you’ll succeed. So, whenever we realize that we haven’t failed in a while, it’s a sign that we haven’t taken enough risks. And that is truly the biggest possible risk for a creative company like ours.”
Time and Patience is the key
“What all of the above requires is time and patience. It’s been an exciting beginning for our company. But the reality is that this is just the beginning. There is so much more we can do. We can make our existing games much better. We can make new games that will change how people think about mobile gaming and games in general. And more than anything, we can create a different kind of a company, the company we’ve always dreamed of.”
Some excerpts from Ilkka Paananen’s Blog Post:
The CEO of Supercell recently posted on the behalf of his dev team, which was to thank the Supercell community for sticking around them for long. In his lengthy but worth a read blog post, there are few excerpts which we picked to make it simple:
On his small team in Supercell
“Having less people in a team forces it to focus on what really matters and what brings the biggest impact to the whole company. On the contrary, having larger teams often leads to ‘inventing’ work that only looks useful.”
“It’s obviously clear that with small teams, focus is key to making great things. But more specifically, two simple words often help to realign the focus properly. Especially in new game development: Gameplay comes First.“
Teams decision making on their own
“For me, the best moments at Supercell have been the ones where something amazing has happened and I have had nothing to do with it and have been the last to hear about it. This is exactly how I would like Supercell to operate: in an ideal world, the teams would make all the decisions which means that I would make none. This is what I mean when I say that my goal is to be the world’s least influential CEO. People think that I am joking when I say that, but I am not.”
Great teams make great games. Great individuals do not necessarily make a great team.
“In 2010, we founded Supercell on the belief that creating great games is all about having the best people and providing them with the best possible environment to focus on developing the best games. To describe this, we came up with the sentence ‘best people make the best games.’ This was even our very first slide when we raised our first big round of funding.”
“However, years later, we realized that it is not about having the best individuals/people, but having the best TEAMS. So, we decided to change the sentence to reflect that. A small but very important change.”
The most important thing is that you enjoy the ride!
He left a quote from another Supercell employee:
“Life is short…enjoy the ride! Find people that inspire you and make you better at what you do and make you a better person. We don’t know what we are doing, so it is best to focus on creating a great team and the best possible environment for that team to succeed.”