Supercell and Their Model for a Successful Mobile Game

After releasing information Wednesday about the past years earnings from their hit smartphone games “Hay Day” and “Clash of Clans,” Finnish game developer Supercell intends to release yet another game which follows their model for a successful smartphone game. Like “Hay Day” and “Clash of Clans,” their upcoming game “Boom Beach” (beta available now in Canadian app stores) will also be “Free-to-play.”


Many companies like Supercell have followed today’s popular “Free-to-Play” (F2P) model, giving away their apps for free and relying on “In App Purchases” made in the game for revenue. Offering games at no cost to the player makes the game appealing to those players who do not want to shell out dollars to try new smartphone games. CEO Ilkka Paananen revealed on Wednesday that the company’s  2013 earnings were $464 million (up from $51 million in 2012) which came from a combination of both in-app purchases and merchandise.

Supercell has also relied on advertising to increase their player base and to make their app more successful. On Christmas day 2013 they released their first official TV commercial, which has received over 18 million views on YouTube. They even purchased one 30-second and two 15-second commercial slots  during the Superbowl – one of the biggest advertising platforms of the year. While those three commercials alone cost $4 million, Supercell is without a doubt is doing everything they can to keep their games popular and fresh.

“The hard part is building a really, really fun game,” Paananen explained. With over 10 million people playing “Clash of Clans” and “Hay Day” everyday, it seems as though Supercell has no difficulties in creating games which attract people to keep on playing. Earlier in May Dong Nguyen, a Vietnamese mobile game developer  created a viral  free-to-play smartphone game called”Flappy Bird,” which went viral this past week and received over 50 million downloads over the past of a week and a half, generating over fifty thousand dollars a day through ad-revenue. The game was simple, challenging, and like “Hay Day” and “Clash of Clans” followed Supercell and their model by being a really fun free-to-play game. Although “Flappy Bird” does not generate money through in-app purchases, it gained noteworthy success in its popularity.


Finland has earned the reputation of producing other first class mobile game developers. The most notable game developer is Rovio, the company that created and released “Angry Birds” which has generated over 2 billion downloads as of 2014.  Unlike Supercell’s free to play games however, Angry Birds is not free-to-play, and instead requires the user to purchase the game for a small sum of money. However, Rovio’s main source of income is generated through in-app purchases and merchandise, much like “Clash of Clans” and “Hay Day”.

Both of the games made by Supercell include social elements, allowing users to connect their games to their Facebook and Google accounts so they can play alongside their friends and family.  “Clash of Clans” also has a chat system, allowing users to talk to one another while playing the game. This may be another factor which has lead to their game’s global  popularity and success.

While more people around the world have access to smartphones everyday, it only makes sense that the smartphone is the perfect platform for casual players or for people who do not normally play games. The success that Supercell achieved by creating two successful and popular mobile games shows that they know what works and what does not. Their model for a successful smartphone game will serve as a benchmark for mobile game developers in the future.

By Tyler Shibata


Wall Street Journal

Helsinki Times

USA Today

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