Supercell reveals year-on-year declines in revenue and EBITDA but promises "big and bold changes"

All the talk this morning at Supercell's financial reveal was about restructure, more trust and less distraction

Supercell reveals year-on-year declines in revenue and EBITDA but promises "big and bold changes"

Taking to the stage this morning Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen revealed the company's latest financials and outlined their plans for changes aimed at putting right the declines in revenue and profits that the latest numbers revealed.

Highlight numbers are revenue of €1.698 billion, marking a slight decrease of 4.2% from 2022.

EBITDA of €580 million, down 8.2% from 2022, "demonstrating the investments made in 2023."

A contribution to the Finnish economy with €110 million paid in taxes.

An expanded workforce. The company hired 175 people during 2023 and had 525 employees at the end of 2023.

The company described the numbers as 2023 "a steady performance".

However, it was clear from Paananen's opening speech and hesitance to get to those numbers (and the release of his latest annual blog) that the company already has plans to address the declines with today's main mission being to reaffirm confidence in the company going forwards.

Paananen took to the stage and outlined the changes he needed to make to "make Supercell better as a games company."

“Our dream is to create great games that as many people as possible play for years and that are remembered forever," he explained.

"We’re heavily inspired by companies like Nintendo. If you look at Supercell from that perspective there’s still a long way for us to go - we’re only 13 years old. That’s why we need to make these changes - to give us a better shot of making that ambitious dream."

A plan in two parts

"We need to do better work for our existing players. Get better at growing our live games as services. The other thing is we need to create massive new hit games."

As to what those massive hit games will be… Paananen kept his cards close to his chest other than to say "It’s up to the games teams as to what happens next. Our teams have a very high quality bar - ridiculously high. It’s only the team that can kill a game."

"For new titles, at Supercell it depends. There are lots of people working on prototypes that I have no idea of. That’s part of Supercell culture. At the more developed stage - where these games come on our radar - we’re talking about five to 10 games or so. It’s a little ‘chaos by design’ as to how we think of new titles."

Paananen's blog post spells out the big changes ahead. Changes so big - he promises - that when he reached out to the industry and academia for comment they told him "Don't do it." Paananen continued:

"What do you focus on - what can go wrong, or what can go right? Focus on the things you can control or what you can’t control? The past or the future? Let’s focus on what can be great. Let’s look at the future rather than our past. Everyone wanted to make the company better. You can feel the growth here at Supercell.

"I’m a serial startup entrepreneur. Been an investor and something I’m super passionate about. Very small numbers will be successful but they bring that innovation to the world. 

"New games can be thought of as startups. One out of ten can be successful. And if you find something they really love, how can you scale it up to be even better?

"We wanted to restructure the company around this new idea.

"We want to be the best company in the world for putting together new games teams. Putting everything we’ve learnt in the past decade together. Power shifts from a game team to an external body and I don’t want that to happen."

The new Supercell way in "three principles"

Paananen explained what comes next in three steps:

  • Let's become better and more systematic about putting game teams together
  • Then trust them 100%. We let the team decide what’s best for the games
  • Radical transparency. The team will publish their plans for the entire company. We’re all in this together, creating an extra accountability for the team. A positive pressure.

"In a start up of 10 people everyone can focus on the customer and the game. There are very little things that can distract you. But as a company grows you end up using your time on other things. Is there a way for us to avoid these distractions? What do you use time on that doesn’t make the game better. We need to reduce these."

And in closing the numbers speak for themselves. Make no mistake - this is a company that's doing very well and - from the above - has plans to revamp and get back on top.

But aside from the big plans - how about shorter term? What does the CEO of Supercell think of Apple's recent moves regarding the fees it intends to charge in Europe thanks to the EU DMA and how that might affect Supercell? Would they be joining an alternative app stores soon we wondered?

Seems that today wasn't the moment for a big revelation:

"We’ve had a very open dialogue with Apple. But as with every conversation we keep those conversations private," offered Paananen in closing.

Editor -

Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest entertainment media brands in the world. He's interviewed countless big names, and covered countless new releases in the fields of videogames, music, movies, tech, gadgets, home improvement, self build, interiors and garden design. Yup, he said garden design… He’s the ex-Editor of PSM2, PSM3, GamesMaster and Future Music, ex-Deputy Editor of The Official PlayStation Magazine and ex-Group Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Musician, Guitarist, Guitar World, Rhythm, Computer Music and more. He hates talking about himself.