Supercell (video game company)

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Supercell Oy
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryMobile games
Founded14 May 2010; 11 years ago (2010-05-14)
Founder
  • Ilkka Paananen
  • Mikko Kodisoja
Headquarters,
Key people
Ilkka Paananen (CEO)[1]
ProductsSee § Games
RevenueDecrease €1.30 billion [2] (2020)
Decrease €407 million [2] (2020)
Number of employees
340[3] (2021)
ParentTencent Holdings (81.4%; 2016–present)
SubsidiariesSpace Ape Games (62%; 2017–present)
Websitesupercell.com
Supercell's headquarters in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki, Finland

Supercell Oy is a Finnish mobile game development company based in Helsinki, Finland. Founded on 14 May 2010,[4] the company's debut game was the browser game Gunshine.net, and after its release in 2011, Supercell started developing games for mobile devices. Since then, the company has fully released five mobile games: Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, Clash Royale, and Brawl Stars, which are freemium fast-paced games and have been very successful for the company, the first two generating revenue of €2 million a day in 2013.[5]

Following its rapid growth, Supercell opened additional offices in Tokyo, Shanghai, San Francisco, and Seoul. In 2016, the company was bought out by Chinese conglomerate Tencent holdings, taking an 81.4% stake in the company valued at €8.4 billion.[6]

Company[edit]

Business model[edit]

Supercell focuses on the development of free-to-play games that yield profits through the in-game micropayments. The company's objective is to focus on the successful games that stay popular for years. The focus has not been on revenue, but on the principle "just design something great, something that users love."[7] Game development focuses around "cells" of five to seven people which start with idea generation and an initial review by CEO Paananen.[7] The team subsequently develops the idea into a game, which the rest of the company's employees get to play-test, followed by play-testing in Canada's iTunes App store; if the Canada reception is good, the next step is global rollout (via iTunes).[7] Successful failures are celebrated by employees.[7] One of the games that was cancelled well into development was Battle Buddies, which had also been rated well in the test market, but the number of players was still too small. The final decision for cancelling a project is done by the development team themselves.

History[edit]

Background and founding[edit]

Before Supercell, two of its founders, Mikko Kodisoja and Ilkka Paananen, worked at Sumea, a mobile game company. Kodisoja co-founded Sumea in 1999, and Paananen was hired as the company's CEO in 2000. In 2003, Sumea made a profit of 1.2 million euros. In the following year, the American Digital Chocolate bought Sumea and made the company its Finnish headquarters and Paananen the European manager. Kodisoja, the firm's creative director left the company in 2010, followed soon after by Paananen.[8]

Paananen moved to venture capital company Lifeline Ventures, but wanted to create a game company where executives would not disturb the work of the game developers. Together, Paananen, Kodisoja, Petri Styrman, Lassi Leppinen, Visa Forstén, and Niko Derome who had known each other through work connections, founded Supercell in 2010. The company started its business in the Niittykumpu district of Espoo.[9]

Kodisoja and Paananen invested 250,000 euros in the company. Tekes, the Finnish funding agency for technology innovation loaned them a further 400,000 euros and Lifeline Ventures also invested in Supercell. The following October, Supercell raised 750,000 euros through seed funding including from London Venture Partners and Initial Capital. The first game Supercell started to develop was the massive multiplayer online game Gunshine that could be played on Facebook with a browser or on mobile platforms. The game prototype was ready in eight months.[9] After Gunshine's completion, Accel Partners also invested 8 million euros in the company in May 2011, and shareholder Kevin Comolli became a member of Supercell's board of directors. Accel also invested in Rovio, among others.[10]

Change of strategies[edit]

In November 2011, Supercell abandoned Gunshine for three reasons: it did not interest players for long enough, it was too difficult to play, and the mobile version did not work as well as the browser version. At best, the game had approximately half a million players. Supercell considered Zynga's market leadership in games on the Facebook platform insurmountable and so decided to focus on iPad games, cancelling a Facebook game it was developing. In order to ease concerns of Supercell's investors due to the change of direction, Paananen increased the detail of progress reports.[9]

The company simultaneously developed five games and the first to be released for public testing was Pets vs Orcs. This game and Tower were abandoned. In May 2012, Hay Day was published and eventually became Supercell's first internationally released game.[9] Hay Day was Supercell's version of Zynga's successful Facebook game FarmVille, an easy-to-play farm simulator. Supercell added to their farming simulator the ability to refine products, a production chain, and touch screen properties. The social aspect of the game was emphasised as well. In four months, the game 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. The game receives regular updates and is maintained by a team of 14 people.[11]

Development of Clash of Clans[edit]

Lasse Louhento had started at Bloodhouse, and Lassi Leppinen was the chief programmer at Sumea and Digital Chocolate. Their team had spent months on a fantasy themed Facebook game when Supercell changed strategies. Leppinen and Louhento wanted to make a strategy game that would use a touch screen so playing would be as simple and pleasant as possible. The development of Clash of Clans took six months, and the game was released on 2 August 2012. In three months, it became the most profitable app in the US. According to App Annie, in the years 2013 and 2014 Clash of Clans was the most profitable mobile game in the world. The eponymous battle between the clans was added to the game as late as in 2014.[12]

In summer 2013, Supercell started marketing collaboration with the Japanese GungHo: the companies cross-marketed each other's games in their own games in their own markets. As a result, Clash of Clans became one of the most downloaded apps in Japan. GungHo's chairman of the board Taizo Son flew to Finland to thank Paananen and later introduced him to his brother Masayoshi Son, the CEO of the SoftBank Corporation. Soon, they proposed a corporate acquisition which indeed happened on 7 October 2013. SoftBank and GungHo bought 51% of Supercell's shares for 1.1 billion euros which is the largest price for a Finnish private company in history. In six months, Supercell's value had tripled, since in spring 2013 the company had sold 16.7% of its shares for 100 million euros.[13]

Development of games after Clash of Clans[edit]

Both Clash of Clans and Hay Day were released in the summer 2012,[7] and Supercell did not release a new game in almost two years. The designing of the third game Boom Beach started in the autumn of 2012, and it was released in 2014. The new strategy game was released to the test market at the end of 2013, after which it went through large changes. The game was very successful in the US right after its release in March, but it did not stay at the top of the download charts for very long. However, it rose to the top 30 of the most downloaded iPhone apps after Supercell started an expensive marketing campaign in December 2014. In 2015, the game surpassed Hay Day in the charts.[14]

In March 2016, Supercell released its fourth supported game, Clash Royale, which uses similar characters from Clash of Clans. Between the releases of Boom Beach and Clash Royale, Supercell had discontinued multiple game projects, two in their test release phase. One of them was Smash Land which had been developed by 4 to 5 people for 10 months.[15]

In December 2018, Supercell released Brawl Stars globally, which was their fifth supported game and took 18 months to develop from its original release.[16]

Funding[edit]

Accel Partners and Index Ventures invested $12 million in the Series A of Supercell in 2011.[17] In October 2013 it was announced that the Japanese company GungHo Online Entertainment and its parent SoftBank had acquired 51% of the company for a reported $1.51 billion.[18] On 1 June 2015, SoftBank acquired an additional 22.7% stake in Supercell, which brought their total stake to 73.2% of the company and made them the sole external shareholder.[19] In 2016, Supercell reported annual revenues of around €2.11 billion.[20] In three years, the company's revenues have grown a total of 800 percent, from 78.4 million (2012).[20][21][22]

Ownership[edit]

In June 2016, Halti S.A., a Luxembourg-based consortium founded that month, acquired 81.4% of Supercell for $8.6 billion.[23][24] At the time, Japan's SoftBank valued Supercell at $10.2 billion.[23] Halti S.A. was 50%-owned by Chinese technology company Tencent; in October 2019, Tencent increased its stake in the consortium to 51.2% by acquiring shares worth $40 million as part of a convertible bond.[24][25]

Space Ape Games[edit]

In 2017, Supercell acquired 60% of Space Ape Games, a mobile game developer based in London.[26] In Febrarury 2021, it was announced that Space Ape will collaborate with Supercell to make Beatstar, which led to Supercell ID become available on Beatstar.[27] In late 2021, Space Ape developed Boom Beach: Frontlines, a spin off of Boom Beach with Supercell. It was soft launched in Canada on 19 October 2021.

Games[edit]

Title Year Availability Description
Gunshine.net (later known as Zombies Online) 2011 Discontinued Supercell's first game and only non-mobile game. It was a browser game that was released in 2011,[28] and its servers were shut down on 30 November 2012.[29]
Pets vs Orcs 2012 Discontinued Pets vs Orcs was the company's first mobile game. It was downloadable for a little over a month in 2012.[30]
Battle Buddies 2012 Discontinued The company's second mobile game, Battle Buddies was soft-launched in a number of countries in 2012, but was discontinued later in the same year.[31] The game was pulled out of market due to poor monetization, despite gaining positive reviews from critics.[32]
Hay Day 2012 and 2013 (Android) Available On 21 June 2012, Supercell released Hay Day on iOS and on 20 November 2013 on Android.
Clash of Clans 2012 and 2013 (Android) Available On 2 August 2012, Supercell worldwide released Clash of Clans on iOS and on 7 October 2013 on Android. The online strategy game where players build defenses and train troops to attack other players' bases, is the top grossing app of iOS and Android of all time. Clash of Clans has also received positive reviews from global audience. It has a score of 9/10 by Pocket Gamer and 4.5/5 stars from Gamezebo.
Boom Beach 2014 Available On 26 March 2014, Supercell released Boom Beach on iOS and Android.[33]
Spooky Pop 2014 Discontinued The Canadian soft-launch of Supercell's addition to its mobile line-up, Spooky Pop, was released in December 2014 and discontinued in March 2015.[34] On 9 February 2015, the app was removed from the Canadian App Store and those with previously downloaded copies trying to access the game were met with a pop-up message of the discontinuance. On 10 March 2015, the game was fully shut down.[35] Supercell has since been described as conservative on the release of titles after the successes of Clash of Clans and Boom Beach as opposed to many other mobile-development companies.[36]
Smash Land 2015 Discontinued Smash Land was launched on a limited basis in Canada and Australia on 1 April 2015.[37] However, on 1 July of that year, Supercell announced on its official forum that it had decided to cancel development of the game.[38] Smash Land remained available for download until 1 September, at which point it was permanently removed from online distribution platforms.[38]
Clash Royale 2016 Available On 4 January 2016, Supercell soft-launched Clash Royale on iOS and also on 16 February 2016, Supercell soft-launched the game on Android in Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland and New Zealand. On 2 March 2016, Supercell launched the game globally for iOS and Android.[39]
Brawl Stars 2018 Available On 14 June 2017, Supercell announced Brawl Stars via a video on YouTube. It received an iOS soft launch in the Canadian App Store the following day.[40] It was released in the Finland, Sweden and Norway App Stores on 19 January 2018. The Android version was released on 26 June 2018 in Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Singapore and Malaysia.[41] The game was globally released on 12 December 2018, one and a half years after the beta release.[16]
Rush Wars 2019 Discontinued On 26 August 2019, a beta version of Rush Wars was launched in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.[42] On 5 November 2019, it was announced that the game would not be continued, and would shut down on 30 November.[43]
Hay Day Pop 2020 Discontinued On 16 March, Hay Day Pop was released in beta. The game is only available to certain countries such as Finland, Canada, Norway and others.[44] On 30 November 2020, Supercell announced that they will discontinue Hay Day Pop. The servers were shut down on 1 February 2021.[45]
Clash Quest 2021 Available On 2 April 2021, Supercell announced three new games in development, including Clash Quest.[46] On 6 April, Clash Quest became available in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark on iOS and Android.[47] On 6 May, the game became available in the Philippines.[48]
Clash Mini 2021 released On 2 April 2021, Supercell announced three new games in development, including Clash Mini.[46] On 8 November, Clash Mini became available in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Canada on iOS and Android.[49]
Clash Heroes 2021 Unreleased On 2 April 2021, Supercell announced three new games in development, including Clash Heroes.[46]
Everdale 2021 released On 23 August 2021, a beta version of the world-building mobile game Everdale was launched in Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Nordics, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines and Malaysia.[50]

Marketing[edit]

During Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015, Supercell spent $9 million for a 60-second runtime in front of 118.5 million viewers. According to The Guardian, the Clash of Clans advertisement was one of the most popular advertisements of the 61 spots aired on NBC.[51] The commercial, dubbed "Revenge", featured Liam Neeson parodying his character from the Taken film series by seeking revenge in a coffee shop for a random player destroying his village. The commercial has reached a total of 165 million[52] views on the game's official YouTube channel so far,[53] and it was the most watched commercial on YouTube in 2015.[54] Despite the success of the commercial, Supercell has seen only a marginal increase in downloads following the advertisement.[55] In 2020, Supercell collaborated with an animation production studio Psyop, produced a short film Lost & Crowned, was uploaded on 12 September 2020 and qualified for Oscars recognition in December.

Acknowledgements[edit]

In 2012, Supercell was awarded as the best Nordic start-up company[56] and chosen as the Finnish game developer of the year.[57] The following year, Supercell won the Finnish Teknologiakasvattaja 2013 (Technology Educator 2013) contest,[58] and the company was chosen as the software entrepreneur of the year. In 2014, the research and consultancy agency T-Media chose Supercell as Finland's most reputable company in their Luottamus&Maine (Trust&Reputation) report.[59]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Takahashi, Dean (15 May 2020). "The DeanBeat: Supercell CEO's 10 takeaways from 10 years of mobile games". GamesBeat. VentureBeat. Archived from the original on 16 May 2020. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b "MY TAKE ON SUPERCELL IN 2020 AS WE BEGIN OUR SECOND DECADE". Supercell. 16 February 2021. Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  3. ^ "Our story". Supercell. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  4. ^ Swan, Eva (14 May 2020). "Supercell, the mobile game hit-maker, celebrates 10-year anniversary". Dot Esports. Archived from the original on 2 May 2021. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  5. ^ Strauss, Karsten (18 April 2013). "The $2.4 Million-Per-Day Company: Supercell". Forbes. Archived from the original on 21 November 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  6. ^ Perez, Matt (23 October 2019). "Tencent Buys Majority Stake in 'Clash Of Clans' Developer Supercell". Forbes. Archived from the original on 5 January 2021. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e Strauss, Karsten (6 May 2013). "Is This the Fastest-Growing Game Company Ever?". Technology. Forbes (Paper). pp. 50, 52. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  8. ^ Lappalainen, p. 167–168
  9. ^ a b c d Lappalainen, p. 169–171
  10. ^ Lappalainen, p. 172
  11. ^ Lappalainen, p. 176–182
  12. ^ Lappalainen, p. 183–187
  13. ^ Lappalainen, p. 209–210
  14. ^ Lappalainen, p. 195–199
  15. ^ Graft, Kris (16 March 2016). "Quality is worth killing for: Supercell's ruthless approach to production" Archived 20 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Gamasutra. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
  16. ^ a b Minotti, Mike (12 December 2018). "Supercell's Brawl Stars launches on iOS and Android". VentureBeat. Archived from the original on 18 April 2021. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  17. ^ "Supercell Raises $12M from Accel Partners". Business Wire. 25 May 2011. Archived from the original on 1 November 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  18. ^ Clash of Clans maker Supercell raises $1.5bn to become the next Nintendo Archived 2 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine 15 October 2013
  19. ^ Lunden, Ingrid. "SoftBank Ups Its Stake In Supercell To 73% As Sole External Shareholder". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  20. ^ a b Pietarila, Päivikki (9 March 2016). "Supercelliltä hurjat luvut: liikevaihto harppasi 2,1 miljardiin". Kauppalehti (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  21. ^ Pietarila, Päivikki (24 March 2015). "Supercell meni kirkkaasti yli miljardirajan". Kauppalehti (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  22. ^ "Supercell Oy – Taloustiedot". Fonecta Finder (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  23. ^ a b Osawa, Juro; Needleman, Sarah E. (21 June 2016). "Tencent Seals Deal to Buy 'Clash of Clans' Developer Supercell for $8.6 Billion". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 21 June 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  24. ^ a b Tencent (21 October 2019). "Acquisition of Additional Equity Voting Interest in the Consortium Holding a Majority Interest in Supercell Oy" (PDF). Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  25. ^ Taylor, Haydn (23 October 2019). "Tencent takes majority control over Supercell". GamesIndustry.biz. Archived from the original on 23 October 2019. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  26. ^ "Space Ape Games". spaceapegames.com. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  27. ^ "Supercell ID Is Expanding to New Games × Supercell". Supercell. Retrieved 23 October 2021.
  28. ^ Vilpponen, Antti (16 February 2011). "Supercell Combines The Very Best In Finnish Gaming". ArcticStartup. Archived from the original on 27 January 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  29. ^ "Zombies Online/Gunshine.net Shutdown notice". Gunshine.net. Archived from the original on 18 June 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  30. ^ Seufert, Eric Benjamin (6 January 2014). "What is Supercell's strategy with Boom Beach?". Mobile Dev Memo. Archived from the original on 9 June 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  31. ^ Lappalainen, Elina (29 November 2012). "Epäonnistumistakin voi juhlia – Hittipeliyhtiö Supercell hautasi floppinsa samppanjalla". Talouselämä (in Finnish). Talentum. Archived from the original on 13 April 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  32. ^ A first look at Supercell's tablet-only combat title Battle Buddies 7 March 2012
  33. ^ "Boom Beach is one of the most popular game on Google Play Store". Archived from the original on 14 May 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  34. ^ "Supercell Cancels Spooky Pop". Archived from the original on 11 June 2019. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  35. ^ "Spooky Pop, Supercell's match-three puzzler, has been cancelled". Archived from the original on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  36. ^ "Clash of Clans". Clash of Clans. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  37. ^ "Clash of Clans Maker Supercell soft-Launches 'Smash Land' in Canada". 4 May 2015. Archived from the original on 9 June 2019. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  38. ^ a b "Smash Land Announcement". Archived from the original on 1 July 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  39. ^ Clash Royale Soft Launch Announcement Archived 14 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine 4 January 2016
  40. ^ Callaham, John (14 June 2017). "Clash of Clans developer Supercell reveals new game, Brawl Stars". Android Authority. Archived from the original on 29 April 2021. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  41. ^ Sholtz, Matthew (26 June 2018). "Brawl Stars is finally coming to Android, with limited access starting today". Android Police. Archived from the original on 20 April 2021. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  42. ^ "Supercell teases new mobile game Rush Wars". Archived from the original on 25 August 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
  43. ^ "Rush Wars Closing". Supercell. Archived from the original on 5 November 2019. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  44. ^ "Welcome to the Neighborhood! × Supercell". Supercell. Archived from the original on 7 April 2020. Retrieved 9 June 2020.
  45. ^ Hay Day Pop [@HayDayPop] (30 November 2020). "Unfortunately, we have made the hard decision to end the development of Hay Day Pop. Thank you for being an amazing community; we could not be more grateful. ❤️ You can find more information here 👇 supr.cl/TheFinalGoodbye" (Tweet). Retrieved 23 January 2021 – via Twitter.
  46. ^ a b c "Announcing Three Unique New Clash Games in Development × Supercell". Supercell. Archived from the original on 2 April 2021. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  47. ^ "Supercell's Clash Quest has been released in selected countries". Mobile Gaming Hub. 6 April 2021. Archived from the original on 6 April 2021. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
  48. ^ Ahmed, Wasif (6 May 2021). "New Supercell game, Clash Quest is now available in the Philippines". Dot Esports. Archived from the original on 11 May 2021. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  49. ^ "Clash Mini Reaches Beta & More Clash News × Supercell". Supercell. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  50. ^ Takahashi, Dean (23 August 2021). "Supercell launches beta for Everdale and unveils 3 new Clash of Clans games". VentureBeat. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  51. ^ "Clash of Clans mobile game was most popular Super Bowl ad in 2015". Archived from the original on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 16 December 2016.
  52. ^ Clash of Clans: Revenge (Official Super Bowl TV Commercial) on YouTube
  53. ^ "'Clash of Clans' Is One Huge Hit". Archived from the original on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  54. ^ Juvonen, Anna (31 December 2015). "Suomalaisyrityksen mainos vuoden katsotuin YouTubessa". Kauppalehti (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 3 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  55. ^ "Forget Liam Neeson and Kate Upton — even the 'worst' Super Bowl game ad worked". 12 February 2015. Archived from the original on 11 June 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  56. ^ Laakso, Leena (10 December 2012). "Supercell voitti startup-kilpailun" Archived 23 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Kauppalehti (in Finnish). Retrieved on 26 March 2016.
  57. ^ Rautio, Maria (2 November 2012). "Vuoden suomalainen pelinkehittäjä valittiin – lahjoitti koko summan Movemberille" Archived 23 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine, YleX (in Finnish). Retrieved on 24 March 2015.
  58. ^ (10 October 2013). "Supercell voitti, Vexvelle kunniaa", Talotekniikka (in Finnish). Retrieved on 24 March 2015.
  59. ^ Mäntylä, Juha-Matti (12 September 2014). "Suomen hyvämaineisimmat: Supercell, Kone ja... kolmatta et muuten arvaa" Archived 22 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Talouselämä (in Finnish). Retrieved on 16 March 2015.

References[edit]

  • Lappalainen, Elina (2015). Pelien valtakunta: miten suomalaiset peliyhtiöt valloittivat maailman? [Game empire: how the Finnish gaming companies conquered the world? Google Translate] (in Finnish). Atena. OCLC 918792916.

External links[edit]