Supercell killed fourteen games on the road to building four

You might think that building a hit game means putting together a team of game developers and designers, spending a year or more plugging away, and then releasing a masterpiece. While that sounds awesome, the reality is that hit game studios actually do all of that, spending millions of dollars on a game, and then kill it for one reason or another. Sounds wasteful? It’s not, in reality this is how hit game studios become hit game studios, by learning from their mistakes.


A great example of a game studio that takes this approach and has seen it work time and time again is Supercell, the creators of Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, and Clash Royale. The three games that Supercell has made so far have generated more than 100 million daily active players. Let me say that again, 100 million people a day actively play Supercell games, oh and they also pay money to do things in the game which generates just a bit of dough for the Finnish game studio.

While you might think that there’s some C-level exec at Supercell with incredible discerning taste who decides if a game will live or die…but that’s not the case. Like the name says, Supercell actually structures working groups into cells, and it is these groups that decide if a game makes the cut.

One might think that a company like Supercell runs comprehensive analytics when deciding whether or not to kill a game — and of course metrics do come into the conversation — but for Dower, the decision ultimately boils down to the gut feeling of a small team of experienced game makers. The execs at Supercell don’t issue a death sentence or grant a pardon, Dower said. The life or death decision is up to the people who’ve had their hands on the game. (Source – Gamasutra)

For those keeping score, you might say, “hey Morgan – Supercell has only three games” but there’s actually a fourth game that made the cut and is getting a lot of early buzz – Brawl Stars, which you can read more about here. Like all Supercell games, you can bet the Brawl Stars came from lessons learned in other games that didn’t see the light of day. The model here is an interesting one, it’s one that speaks well to startups and the mantra of fail fast.

For any aspiring game developer out there hopefully Supercell is setting a good example here and pushing you to release early and often, and most importantly, if people aren’t loving your game, helping you realize that you might need to kill it. There’s nothing wrong with killing a game, in fact, the bigger problem is not killing your game fast enough because the more time you spend on a dud, the less time you’ll spend on a hit.

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton