Supercell boss Ilkka Paananen has said that creating and launching hit games has become “harder than we ever thought” in his annual blog on the direction of the company.
Some quick highlights first:
- Supercell has five new games in development at its Helsinki studio, with Squad Busters “furthest along”
- Clash of Clans hit $10bn and Hay Day passed $2bn in lifetime revenue
- Revenue was down 6% year-on-year at €1.77bn ($1.98bn)
- EBITDA was down 14% year-on-year at €632m ($707.5m). This is “due to increased investments in our future,” said Paananen.
- Over 90% of Supercell’s new users are organics or unattributed
- Supercell now has three internal studios (Helsinki, US, Shanghai) plus investments in 15 external companies
Addressing Supercell’s “next chapter”, Paananen said Supercell must “take bolder, bigger creative risks,” and acknowledged the mobile business’ wider struggles.
“The mobile industry’s slowdown in growth and decline in 2022 is, in part, evidence that more innovative games are needed, including from us,” he said.
Paananen continued: “We haven’t launched a new game globally since Brawl Stars on December 12, 2018. I’m not counting, but four years, one month, and three days seems like too long! Clearly we can improve.”
And a big theme for this year’s blog was the difficulty of maintaining the monstrous hit-rate Supercell has had in the past.
“Creating a hit game is really, really hard, and requires a lot of luck too,” said Paananen. “But what is even harder is repeating this success. From a purely mental perspective, it seems easier to take risks and develop games when you have nothing to lose.”
“When our teams were developing Hay Day and Clash of Clans back in 2012, we obviously had no idea how big they could become,” he continues. “We just created the best games we could and put them out. These days, there is a lot more pressure. Of course player expectations are higher, but I think most of the pressure comes from within. Sometimes, I have even thought that it would be easier to develop new games if we had no past successes.”
Elsewhere in the wide-ranging blog, Paananen talked about Supercell’s efforts to make “great multi-platform games”, particularly at its North America and Shanghai studios, while also avoiding “the pitfalls of traditional PC/console AAA development.”
“My biggest message to the developers there: take big risks and be different from our Helsinki Studio,” he said. “Don’t try to be the second best version of Helsinki. Build something different and additive.”
He added that hybrid and remote working would become more common at Supercell, and that its development teams “need to be more diverse” and have more “younger talent.”
“This does not mean that the bar for the new talent would be any lower,” he added. “It just means that we emphasise more the level of raw talent, hunger and passion than mere years of experience. This is the group of people who will be integral part of building the next chapter of Supercell.”
“Evolving Supercell won’t be easy,” he concluded. “It will require a very open, curious, and bold mind, not being afraid of change. With all the amazing people at Supercell, I think we have a really good shot.”