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Supercell saw great success in 2020, despite COVID-19 pandemic

"We, of course, are incredibly lucky to work in the games business"

Supercell saw great success in 2020, despite COVID-19 pandemic

Brawl Stars has become Supercell's fifth game to generate $1 billion through player spending.

As detailed in a blog post by CEO Ilkka Paananen, 2020 proved to be a substantial year for the company, despite not releasing any new games.

Not only did Brawl Stars reach an impressive monetary milestone, but total installs across all five of Supercell's games - Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Brawl Stars, Hay Day and Boom Beach - has hit five billion.

Last year, COVID-19 struck the world, causing a global pandemic. As a result, many people worldwide were confined to their homes, forcing them to look for ways to entertain themselves. Mobile games proved to be a popular cure for boredom.

Supercell was one such company that saw impressive numbers as a result of the pandemic.

"We, of course, are incredibly lucky to work in the games business," said Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen.

"The challenges we've faced are tiny compared to so many others, and we hope that our games have provided moments of happiness to our players and helped them stay (safely) connected with friends during the pandemic."

Pandemic challenges

However, like many others, the company was forced to adopt remote working, which meant that Supercell went from four offices to over 300 home offices.

"All of a sudden, people in our 'cells' were no longer able to just turn around and talk to their colleagues," said Paananen.

"They had to put an effort into connecting with each other online. That's when our CFO/COO Janne said: 'Since we've been forced into working remotely, we might as well try to get really good at it.'"

To tackle these unforeseen changes, the staff at Supercell leaned on one of the company's core values, trust. The teams were each trusted to find a working method that suited them. They were then given the support they needed.

However, the mobile games specialist did face difficulties with new team members. Usually, a newcomer would get to meet the team and connect with them in person. Unfortunately, this was no longer possible thanks to COVID. As such, new employees had to get accustomed to Supercell's culture remotely.

Have a brawl

Brawl Stars had its best year yet in 2020, and not just due to hitting $1 billion in revenue. Rather, the game welcomed millions of new players, through both the pandemic and its successful launch in China.

Moreover, the game saw the introduction of the battle pass, dubbed Brawl Pass. The team also added a Map Maker beta, which was well received by the Brawl Stars community.

Since October 2020, more than 150 million maps have been created, while 50 million hours of playtime has been racked up.

Meanwhile, Brawl Stars esports has also proven popular. Last year, around 15 million players took part in the monthly World Championship challenge, with 36,000 teams signing up for the tournament.

What a clash

As for Clash of Clans, the game proved to be as popular as ever thanks to some new updates, including village customisation and hero skins. There are more updates set to be released throughout 2021.

However, Clash Royale did not fare quite well, as its Clan Wars 2 update was not as well-received as Supercell was hoping, though it did gain some community feedback.

"The game has so much more potential and the team is fully committed to making it much better for players in 2021," wrote Paananen.

"We are grateful for all of the passionate players we have in that game, and we want to make it better for all of you, keep the feedback coming."

The short film, Lost and Crowned, has accumulated more than 100 million views across all platforms. Meanwhile, over one million trees were saved by Hay Day players through its Play For Trees global event.

Get creative

Brawl Stars' Map Maker was not the only creative outlet to be supported by Supercell in 2020, as its Content Creator Program now boasts more than 1,500 creators while 23 million players have purchased 70 million content boosters.

Moreover, Supercell Make, a program that allows artists to submit potential in-game content, has seen more than $200,000 be generated by community creators.

Farewell

Last year, the Finnish company decided to call it quits on Hay Day Pop, the game became the second title to be killed by Supercell whilst in beta in the last two years.

The company is a trailblazer that is looking to create the next big thing. Should a game not achieve such potential, and garner a bigger audience, it will be cut loose.

"The Hay Day Pop team's overall goal was to bring something new to the puzzle genre.

"They believe in many ways they did this, and we're super proud of what they accomplished. It must be one of the best games we ever killed. However, unfortunately, it didn't find a large enough audience.

"The team ultimately felt like they could create better games and decided to kill it and shared their learnings with all of Supercell."

However, Paananen explained that the company is hoping to see several new games enter beta throughout 2021. Although, he did clarify that "any of them could be killed at any time by the game teams due to our high-quality bar."

Going external

Last year, Supercell also invested in two new companies, 2UP Games and Papukaya. These two investments bring the firm's total investee companies to 14.

Through external investments, Supercell is able to help like-minded companies, meaning it can make even more of an impact on the world.

"In addition to our internal development, we've been investing in a number of game companies who we believe also have a high-quality bar and are independently minded like us," explained Paananen.

"Investing in external studios as a way for us to enable talented game teams outside of Supercell to make a bigger impact in the world of games.

"As with our internal teams, we provide these studios complete freedom to go after their dreams, and offer help and support if they need it."

Making bank

In terms of finances, Supercell experienced a great year in 2020.

Overall, for FY2020, the company generated €1.30 billion ($1.48 billion), while its Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortisation (EBITDA) was €407 million ($463 million).

"Our profits allowed us to contribute a total of €78 million (or $87 million) in corporate taxes to Finland this year alone," wrote Paananen.

"Many of us who have benefited from our free education and healthcare financed by taxes feel proud that we can contribute to our society in this way, in turn, helping others.

"We also try to maintain a positive impact on society by offsetting carbon emissions from our operations as well as those created by mobile devices while players enjoy our games."


Staff Writer

Kayleigh is the Staff Writer for PocketGamer.biz. Besides PG and PCGI she has written as a guides writer, specialising in RPG's and horror.

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