Supercell, a Finnish game company, has astounded the mobile gaming industry with their announcement of an eightfold increase in revenues, and profits, for 2013. Their earnings jumped to $464 million in 2013, from only $51 million in 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal. This on revenue of $892 million in 2013 ($101 million in 2012,) and they have somehow managed to remain relaxed during this wildly successful year.
This is an impressive feat and looking at the earning power of the company’s two breakout games, Clash of Clans and Hay Day, it should be no surprise; Hay Day has been estimated to earn $413,000 per day, Clash of Clans’ number is $654,000 per day.
These titles have topped the gaming charts for months. They both provide a satisfying open-ended gaming experience, one is a strategic world builder set in a Nordic village (Clash of Clans), the other is a farming simulation (Hay Day). Both have well crafted graphics, engaging sound, and real-time action with the enticing opportunity to pay (with in-game or real money) for a quicker tempo when training an army or building a barn.
A Nordic invasion is putting its mark on mobile gaming. The Iceland Review recently reported that a large percentage of the top ten games are from Nordic countries; Angry Birds, and its many sequels, from Rovia in Finland, Candy Crush from King in Sweden, QuizUp from the Iceland outfit Plain Vanilla, and now Finland’s Supercell with two big winners.
This success also brings many imitators, hoping to create their own viral hits based on similar premises, or at least to fool enough people into buying Cash of Clans or Pay Day. There is, however, more to Supercell’s success than simply putting out a solidly produced game in a widely appealing genre. In interviews with Ilkka Paananen, CEO of Supercell, Business Insider and Pocket Gamer report that there is a certain relaxed culture in the company, which Paananen believes is a significant contributor to Supercell’s remarkable success.
Paananen emphasizes the importance of a small, smart group of individuals to ensure little or no bureaucracy in the company, embraces failure and transparency, and keeps a focus on creating games with long-term play appeal, measured in years rather than months. “We set out to get the best people to make the best games,” he said, “…financial success is secondary.”
This sentiment goes a long way in illustrating the particular relaxed Finnish attitude towards most things in life. The Finns enjoy universal health care and education, even college education, at effectively zero cost. Finland has the highest per capita Internet use (at close to 89 percent) and penetration of cellular phone use (near 42 percent) in the world, but their day-to-day living has less of the hectic busyness of many other Western nations. It is, therefore, amusing to note that much of Supercell’s financial success comes, at least in part, from in-game purchases of items to increase the game’s tempo, which are elicited by incessant encouragement of impatience in the players.
But Paananen remains relaxed. Even in the face of a recent hack of a social media service exposing some of the company’s financial data, they have yet to issue an official comment. Paananen did have something to say when asked about his company’s recent advertisements during the Super Bowel pre-game show. “Naturally, that has shown in popularity,” says Paananen.
Fans will soon be able to relax with Supercell’s new game, Beach Boom, currently in beta. It is slated to be available for iOS in March, with a succesful Android release sometime later in the year.
By Brian Ryer