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Have Supercell's changes supercharged its revenue?

We analyse the performance of Supercell's portfolio amid its restructure and ahead of the global launch of Squad Busters on May 29th
Have Supercell's changes supercharged its revenue?

It’s official: Squad Busters will be Supercell’s sixth global launch when it releases on May 29th.

By the time it rolls out, it will have been five and a half years since its last worldwide launch, with Brawl Stars going live back in December 2018.

It’s not for lack of trying - the developer has soft-launched a number of titles that ultimately failed to make the cut, including Clash Mini, Clash Quest, Hay Day Pop and Space Ape’s Boom Beach Frontlines. Supercell has stood firm of its mantra to only launch titles that it believes will stand the test of time - it’s $1 billion or bust.

Culture rethink

But last year, Supercell took stock of its position in the market. It was no longer at the top of the pile in mobile gaming, and its major titles had been in decline for years - except for a pandemic boost that drove up the entire market.

A restructure and review of its culture has led to a hiring spree and the introduction of new layers of management. For example, it hired former Mojang head of games Sara Bach as its head of live games as the company looks to reverse a portfolio in decline, while it has also developed a new internal system called Spark to get ideas greenlit for development.

With Squad Busters on the horizon, has Supercell’s wider strategy started to bear fruit? Using AppMagic data estimates, PocketGamer.biz has analysed the performance of its existing titles Hay Day, Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, Clash Royale and Brawl Stars to see if the famous developer is getting back to its best.

It’s important to note that the following data only includes revenue from the App Store and Google Play, and does not include data from third-party Android marketplaces or Supercell’s web shop. Some companies like Playtika have driven as much as 25% of their revenue (Q4 2023) from their direct-to-consumer platforms. Still, even Supercell’s own financials for 2023 showed a yearly decline in revenue and EBITDA.

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Hay Day

Hay Day

Supercell’s first global launch, farming game Hay Day, has maintained a steady performance over the years.

Back in December 2020, the introduction of the Farm Pass boosted monthly revenue - and it hasn’t dropped below November levels since. While the update was significant in extending Hay Day's life cycle, Supercell also hasn't been able to find another way to boost the game's growth in the three and a half years following that update.

Revenue has slowly declined during the past couple of years. AppMagic estimates a 0.5% year-over-year drop to $179.2 million from player spending in 2022. In 2023, revenue fell by a further 9.8% to $161.6m - despite a 22.8% boost to downloads.

Q4 2023 and Q1 2024 revenue was also down slightly by 5.4% and 3% Y/Y, respectively.

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Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans

Clash of Clans is Supercell’s biggest ever hit - it has officially made more than $10 billion in revenue - and has long remained its flagship title (except for perhaps in recent months with the resurgence of Brawl Stars).

AppMagic estimates show the title generated $516.3 million from gross player spending in 2023, a decline of 22.9% Y/Y. That follows on from a 3.2% Y/Y drop in 2022. In Q4 2023 alone, racked up an estimated $147m down 24.6% Y/Y.

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But there are signs of a revival after a significant expansion of the Clash of Clans team, which doubled in size in 2023. In Q1 2024, player spending rose by 10% Y/Y to $139.8m.

The studio previously said a larger team meant it was able to get more done faster and run larger in-game events. Supercell may have steadied and even reversed the game’s decline - though that has come at the cost of increased investment.

As noted previously, these estimates do not include revenue from third-party Android stores - such as those in China - or web shop payments.

Boom Beach

Boom Beach

While Boom Beach has crossed the $1 billion milestone, the title is by far the smallest by revenue in Supercell’s portfolio. AppMagic estimates it made $22.6 million in 2023, which represented a rise of 16.5% Y/Y. Its other games can make that in a single month.

However, that growth reverses Y/Y declines of 26.1% in 2022 and 12.1% in 2021.

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Support for Boom Beach remains, but it looks unlikely the title will become a significant revenue generator again for Supercell. London studio Space Ape had attempted to tap the IP for Boom Beach Frontlines, but development on that title was ultimately cancelled.

Clash Royale

Clash Royale

Clash Royale has had a series of ups and downs over the years, but has never recaptured the glory years of 2016 and 2017.

AppMagic data estimates the game has generated $4.3 billion in lifetime revenue since its launch in 2016. That year, it generated $925.6m, while in 2017 it picked up more than $1 billion.

It has never again matched those highs, falling to an all-time low of $238.6m in 2023 - yes, we’ll break out the tiny violin.

The game had a brief resurgence in 2021, accumulating $416.6m that year, but failed to sustain that level, with 2022 player spending declining by 25.4% Y/Y, while 2023 saw a further 23.2% drop.

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But one look at the chart above and you can see a rise and subsequent stabilisation in revenue from June 2023. This coincided with an update that featured:

  • Card Evolution, which enables players to unlock new powers for cards they already own
  • The introduction of Elite Level at level 15. Once players hit level 14, they can get to level 15 by obtaining Elite Wild Cards, which they get from their level 14 cards. 
  • The Tropy Road added three more arenas in June 2023 and raised the total Trophy cap to 9,000. There were also more rewards to unlock.
yt

Player spending in Q4 2023 was up 46.7% Y/Y to $75.9m, while Q1 2024 saw a 92% Y/Y jump in player spending to $69.4m.

It’s not a Brawl Stars-level revival - but the Clash Royale team has instigated changes that have put the game back on a solid footing, making it the No. 47 top revenue-generating mobile game in March, according to AppMagic.

Brawl Stars

Brawl Stars

Brawl Stars’ incredible revenue resurgence has already been widely reported. Changes such as that introduction of Starr Drops and Hypercharges (a feature borrowed from Clash Royale) have helped significantly boost Brawl Stars' popularity and revenue.

Gradient Universe founder Oxana Fomina delved into the reasons behind Brawl Stars' growth in an article for PocketGamer.biz here.

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Such is the successful formula that Brawl Stars has found, so far in 2024 it has accumulated an estimated $219.1m from global player spending - more than it made in the entirety of 2023. March was the best month the game has ever had, and April is set to surpass it.

Brawl Stars is now Supercell’s flagship title by revenue - generating more than even Clash of Clans in March and April 2024.

Supercell

Supercell

Overall, Supercell’s revenue has risen, thanks to the stabilisation of revenue in Clash of Clans and Clash Royale, and in large part thanks to Brawl Stars’ ascension.

AppMagic data shows an 18.9% Y/Y decline in player spending across its portfolio in 2022, and a further 23.1% drop in 2023. Q1 2024, however, showed Y/Y growth of 65.4% to $410.6 million. Downloads also grew 35.6% to 54.6 million.

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From an outside perspective, the company’s recent restructure and growing live ops teams appears to have played a role in stabilising revenue for some of its titles, while Brawl Stars’ rise is arguably down to years of testing new systems, and ultimately finding a recipe for success with updates like Starr Drops and Hypercharges.

As Supercell gears up for Squad Busters, that title is again more the result of the old system, rather than the new one.

Supercharged growth?

There are early signs that a change in approach to how the company runs its live ops is bearing fruit - Clash of Clans has shown recent growth in Q1, Clash Royale revenue rose in the second half of 2023, while Brawl Stars's changes have led to runaway success.

This has led to Supercell ranking at the No. 6 mobile games publisher in the world by App Store and Google Play revenue in March 2024, according to AppMagic, ranking above King, Dream Games and Roblox. For comparison, Supercell ranked No. 15 in March 2023.

If Squad Busters proves to be another hit - and the company was bold enough to share its $1 billion ambitions in its own consumer press release - the foundations it's creating in its live games mean it could propel Supercell's position even further in the months ahead.

Signs of how successful its greenlighting process is for new games is likely years away - unless mo.co makes the cut.

A lot has been written about the five-and-a-half year wait for Squad Busters - it previously had a cadence of roughly one game launch every two years after Hay Day and Clash of Clans.

But if Squad Busters achieves $1 billion+, surely it’ll be a successful result, over launching two other titles with less potential, yet require similar investment.

Most games companies would be happy with those other titles. But most games companies aren’t Supercell.