Mobile App Success Story: How Clash Of Clans Did It

In our series of Mobile App Success Stories, we discussed Slack which targets adults for workplace messaging and Snapchat the popular app for teens. Today we have an article for both generations because we will talk about games. First of all, take a look at the chart recently published by Statista.

Let’s focus on the first one, Clash of Clans. This game was created in 2012. How is it possible to be #1 after 5 years? Read further because we will try to answer this question.

Brilliant Idea

Even if the statistic above refers games in United States, everything started in Finland. The story behind the game is fascinating and it is shared on the official page of the company that created it, Supercell. Back in 2010, Ilkka Paananen and his colleagues started to develop games, in a small office in Niittykumpu in Espoo driven by the same supreme goal. They wanted to build “Games that people will play for years”. And they didn’t stop until they reached their scope. Maybe that is their secret: the passion for amazing games. Think about what Ilkka says in an article published by Forbes:
“It really is that simple–just design something great, something that users love.”

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How Clash Of Clans Did It

We mentioned before about Exploiting The Mechanism Of Addiction For Mobile Games, but let’s see if there is something more behind the success of Clash of Clans.

Beta Testing

Supercell created a great number of games, but only four reached the market, because the other ones where killed by their creators. Check the clip where the team members give thanks to all users for 1 million daily active users from around the world. They say that they had to put an end to 14 games to create the ones that really matter for their customers. The other ones didn’t pass the beta testing or didn’t reach the high standards imposed by the team’s goal. Clash of Clans was first launched in Canada in July, 2012, under the codename “Magic”. After just a month, in August Clash of Clans was released for the global market. In 3 months, it became #1 top grossing game in the US and it is still there. Remember what we told you about soft launch and look at the results of Supercell.

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Think Mobile First

Supercell started as a development company for cross – platform games. After a while they understood that playing a game on desktop is totally different than handling an app on mobile devices. Taking into consideration the evolution of smartphones and tablets they reconsidered their strategy and they focused their effort on mobile first games. After they got used to tablets they adapted Clash of Clans and their other games to fit the small screens.

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Allow Users To Share It With Their Friends

One of the main priorities of its creators was to make Clash of Clans social and accessible for a great number of players. This strategy has many benefits. First of all, sharing their triumph or their challenges with friends increases the engagement rate and offers a great experience for all kinds of players. Who doesn’t want to brag with his village? Secondly, the game has more chances to become viral (which it did). You combine user acquisition with retention from a single move. Check to discover the great community that was built around the game.

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Freemium Model

Clash of Clans is another example that freemium model really works. Because people don’t spend money if they download the game, they are more willing to try it. After they get addicted, players have two options. They can wait a specific amount of time for resources or they can pay to receive them for their troops. When the level of dopamine is so high you almost forget that you can play the entire game for free if you allow the game to complete the process. This way, Supercell gave another meaning to the expression “Time is money.”

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Emerging Markets

Supercell observed the opportunity offered by other developed markets like Japan, Korea and China. They considered that presenting Clash of Clans to players in other countries there were big chances to multiply their success. And they were right. This is the reason why they have offices in Helsinki, San Francisco, Seoul and Beijing and they encourage multicultural collaboration for their work flow.

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Marketing During Important Event

When you watch the TV commercial that was shown during Super Bowl in 2015 for Clash of Clans: Revenge you don’t know what to do. You can laugh about the coffee boy who doesn’t recognize the Hollywood superstar or you can just admire Liam Neeson’s speech in a furious moment while he attacks an opponent with his troops. Of course, this type of spending is not for everyone but when you win so much you afford to invest a big part into increasing the awareness for your brand.

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Great Landing Page

The entire website of Supercell is very well structured and very intuitive. Besides the fact that the team members tell their entire story from 2010 until now, what they did, what worked for them and what didn’t, they even share some growth hacks. If you check the landing page of Clash of Clans you will find everything you want: the badges for both app stores, a timeline of the game, a link for the “online home for all things Clash”, the Super Bowl ad, many insights of the game, press articles and you can even get the chance to work for Supercell. Consider this example when you want to design a website for your app.

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Bonus Tip: If you created an amazing app don’t stop there.

Take another look at the chart above. Which game is #2? Clash Royale. Guess who created it? That is right, Supercell. We said before that the company has only 4 games on the market: Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach and Clash Royale. Yes, this is true. Supercell owns the first two top grossing mobile apps for iOS devices in US. The takeaway is to enjoy your victory when you create a successful app but in the same time try to find new ways to amaze your users.

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We managed to summarize some of the main factors that generated the impressive growth of Clash of Clans. It is not impossible to reach this amazing success but you have to know what you want to accomplish and to concentrate all your efforts into reaching that point. This is an important lesson for everybody, so we should consider long term thinking when we want to create a new app that will remain in users’ hearts and minds for years.

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