Supercell Studio is one of the most successful companies in application stores, all thanks to their games and a winning formula that have made them one of the most profitable companies in the application development market.
Launched in 2012 and founded by Mikko Kodisoja and Ilkka Paanananen in Finland, its business model is based on a freemium monetisation system in which paying is not mandatory to play and reach the top. It’s not a pay to win, although Supercell doesn’t need to hinder us economically, as it already knows how to get its customers to spend their credit to acquire juicy improvements.
But the freemium model is not the only thing that differentiates Supercell, and that is that the Finns have been able to chain a series of actions with which to captivate their players. So what has made this one of the most profitable companies?
The two crown jewels are Clash of Clans and Clash Royale. The first was released in August 2012 on iOS and October 2013 on Android and quickly became an example of how mobile strategy games should be made.
Clash Royale was launched globally in March 2016 taking advantage of the pull of other games such as the classic Magic The Gathering or Hearthstone but with a more dynamic touch control, with real-time animation and using the same characters that made it popular in Clash of Clans, confirming that behind Supercell there is a company that knows how to sell a video game.
Analyzing their two most popular games we found a number of common factors. In addition to the aforementioned free to play system:
Short and very fast matches
Starting a game that will only take a few minutes is a easy, uncompromising decision. It makes sense that a mobile app player who doesn’t have a lot of time to play, or who wants something serious to turn on his game console or PC, would prefer a game of less than five minutes to one that compromises him and leaves him in the middle of the action. And that’s precisely one of the features of Supercell games.
In Clash of Clans you manage your resources, order new constructions or attack and finish. In Clash Royale, a game takes just three minutes. A gameplay characterized by its speed, not requiring a significant investment of time, ideal for short moments.
Does this feature of Supercell games make it exclusive for short moments? On the contrary, it is a plus that allows to reach all kind of smartphone users, but as long as it has battery and Internet connection, the player will be able to spend as much time as he wants driving his Hog Riders, P.E.K.K.A. and barbarians.
Perfect adaptation to the touch control and size of smartphones
Another of the qualities of Supercell video games is their perfect adaptation to touch devices.
Until then, most games were full of virtual buttons on the screen: a crosshead, an actuator, a trigger… Some games took advantage of the gyroscope or other hardware functionality of smartphones, but few had control adapted to the new times.
Clash of Clans and, especially Clash Royale, have been able to adapt the playing style to take advantage of the touch screen, making use of drag and drop actions on elements present on the screen. Supercell has been able to move away from touch controls inspired by analog buttons, adjusting the handling to an experience that the user is already used to.
Using Push Notifications Intensively
Supercell reminds us again and again to get back in the game. Either because we have achieved a certain resource that we can already use, because we have received an attack from an enemy clan, because we can now unlock our chest or because there is an incredible promotion that will surely be of interest to us.
In general, Supercell knows how to boost recurrence, which among other aspects is necessary to position in search engines (ASO), but, above all, to engage the player trying to make him want to reach the top and, if all goes well, to spend some money.
Lots and lots of advertising money
Is Supercell one of the companies that reinvests more revenue in promotion? The answer is absolutely yes, and it compensates him, because today it is one of the most profitable companies in the sector. While most of your players don’t spend a single cent in the game, there are others who already pay for the rest, and a lot. Acquiring new users is so profitable that they can afford to spend millions on advertising and still keep track of their accounts.
Supercell games dominate the interstitial, those screen-to-screen ads that make you wait 15 seconds to keep playing.
Not only do they spend on advertising within mobile applications, but also on media such as YouTube. Did you know that in 2016 and 2017 they appeared in the Top 10 of the most viewed advertising videos on this platform?
- Fifth most viewed on YouTube 2016 (45 million views)
- Second most viewed in 2017 (114 million views)
Supercell’s advertising investment is so high that, even in 2015, they were able to pay for a one-minute spot at the Super Bowl, the most popular sporting and advertising event on the U.S. screen, the same event whose second broadcast cost is the highest in the world.
- Clash of Clans Spot on SuperBowl 2015
The real reason Supercell is a successful company
But what is the reason for Supercell’s success? The answer is simple and it is all the result of the coordination of the previous elements that allow him to have a perfect strategy directed to a single objective: to get sales and mini-transactions.
Although Clash games are free, Supercell knows how to direct the user towards buying upgrades.
Just like Spotify allows free access to the application with limitations and advertising and tempts us with its Premium mode. Just like Epic Games offers Fortnite on PC at no cost, but tries to captivate us with its new skins…. Supercell encourages us to play again and again, generating constant incentives, giving away chests, cards and coins so that we are willing to pay for more and more improvements.
And they motivate us to want to get more objects by inviting us to return, generating a desire for daily participation with the game. Rewards for winning a game and some special chest that trigger the excitement of the user but that are hardly anything compared to the great prizes they will be able to acquire if they pay a few hundred green gems.
These are the main factors that have made Supercell one of the most profitable companies in the mobile market, with more than 2.1 billion dollars earned each year and large, coordinated teams (what they denominate Cells) to make their games a hard to imitate revenue machine.