CLASH of Clans is the iOS juggernaut whose success has shown the gaming world that free-to-play models can work.
In celebration of its first birthday, I was intrigued to find out how its creator, Supercell, had managed to make such a successful game – particularly when no one else in mobile gaming has been able to replicate a similar success in the free-to-play genre.
Clash of Clans’ product lead is Lassi Leppinen. I spoke with Leppinen to gauge whether or not Supercell was happy with its success, if it planned on developing for Android, its thoughts on tablets versus consoles, and what else it had in store for Clash of Clans’ second year to keep players engaged.
THUMB: Lassi, it’s Clash of Clans’ first birthday – tell me, did you ever envisage it would be so successful?
LASSI: We really liked Clash of Clans ourselves during the development of it, but none of us could have imagined success like this! We’re in awe about the success of the game and the passion our players feel for it.
THUMB: What is it about the game’s formula that makes it ‘work’ in the minds of gamers?
LASSI: It is really about the overall package. We focused on gameplay above all else, and made sure we were creating a game that people would genuinely enjoy. On top of that, the game’s graphics and audio are unique, and the ability to create and join clans provides a really nice social element. The game was also built specifically for the tablet’s great technological abilities, like multitouch and swipe, which make the game experience more fun.
THUMB: The game is free-to-play, and amazingly, never pushes in-app purchases yet remains one of the highest grossing games on the App Store. Is there a philosophy behind your approach?
LASSI: We really believe that it is enough to make a great game that players enjoy. The beauty of free-to-play is that anyone can try and play our games and it is up to the player to decide if and how much money to invest in the game. It also means that free-to-play games need to be of really good quality in order to be successful. So, we focus on making great games and believe that monetization follows from there.
THUMB: How do you think other free-to-play games could learn from your approach?
LASSI: Just focus on making a great game and worry less about money. It is also super important that the development team plays the game for hundreds and hundreds of hours. If the makers don’t enjoy it, it’s likely that neither will the players.
THUMB: For people who are tiring of the game, what exciting content or changes do you have in store for CoC’s second year?
LASSI: Year Two will be amazing for Clash of Clans! We have tons of ideas how to bring the game to the next level. We’ll be able to reveal more about that soon
THUMB: Your decision not to publish for Android has caused a stir amongst owners of hardware of that platform. Tell us what the barriers are that have kept you from including an Android version?
LASSI: One key lesson we’ve learned is that any great game on a platform is built specifically for that platform. So from the very beginning of developing Clash of Clans, we’ve tried to concentrate on as few things as possible to deliver great quality on the iPad. Android isn’t out of the question in our future plans but of course we need to consider how to focus on the right things.
THUMB: How many people currently play Clash of Clans?
LASSI: We don’t really disclose these numbers, but back in May we did tell Forbes that combined, our 2 games (Hay Day and Clash of Clans) have more than 8.5 million players daily.
THUMB: Do you have any other games in the works other than Hay Day and Clash of Clans? If so, what do you think your next venture will be? Something new, or similar to what you’ve always released?
LASSI: We are prototyping some new ideas, but it is too early talk about those yet.
THUMB: Your site talks about ‘tablet first’. Do you think tablets can overtake home consoles and traditional handhelds as a gaming platform?
LASSI: Definitely! In my opinion, this has already happened.
THUMB: Many thanks for your time: is there anything else you’d like to add?
LASSI: I’d like to say thanks for all Clash of Clans players! It has been an amazing first year and we’ll do our best to make the second year even better.