Inside Supercell – Making Games People Will Play for Years


One first thing that is quite different
is just the way Supercell works. We tell our culture, but people
can’t really know if it’s true or not, because almost all companies have
a big plan that they want to present, and they all more or less sound the same. It’s been really hard to say
that we actually are like this. I actually applied here
because I saw them do a massive complex game
in a very short time period. I was really humbled to see
what they could do in such a way. I had heard of Clash of Clans. I started doing some research
and understood the culture a bit better. In the company, we find the values
of how the games are being made here, and the idea is that the game developers
do the best games they can. I applied to find out if it is true,
and it is being very good. For me, the main difference
is coming into a studio where many people actually
come from different backgrounds. Usually, we have only generalist artists,
so not specifically doing any one thing. We can all contribute
to how we desire the game. There is no top-down
saying you need to go there. Basically you have the decision. Since the teams are very small, in terms of understanding the game
heading towards a particular direction, everybody more or less
knows that direction because they work
very close to each other. Small, meaning usually
starting a game from scratch, it might be one to three people. It increases slowly, but usually stops
between 10 and 15 people. One aspect of the company
that is quite different from others is that often individuals
can make decisions. It would be possible
that somebody joins the company, and that’s the dream game
that he’s been dreaming of forever. Anyone can do a game here. In previous companies,
maybe everybody can pitch in, but it’s: “That’s the creative director,
here is the pitch.” They run with it and the games change. Here, if you’re a programmer,
you’re an artist, you have an idea… you find a team, and you start
the team, start the project. But there’s a lot of ideas
floating in the office. A lot of people just testing things out. Sometimes you just say: “We’d love to borrow this guy
for one day a week.” And he helps me code a bit of this,
and you talk to that team, and they say: “We have time.” It starts with that,
and they may go: “Okay.” Well, now we can actually have
someone on board full-time. Most of them might not ever be anything, but some of them actually become
the games that are hugely successful. Clash Royale is actually created
by a server engineer. It’s something he always wanted to do,
and he had the possibility to do it. There hasn’t been
a single game like this before. We created something completely new. When Clash was done,
there were other companies interested in how we actually
managed to do the game. I heard the story where there was a room
with people in suits and very serious, and they were asking
how we did the game. And we said:
“This is how we made it.” And they just didn’t believe it. We don’t overly theorize what could work,
we usually just go for it, do it, and see if it works or not. Once the game is released,
you soon realize that a game is not a game
until it’s played by people. You could almost consider
it as an artist who draws: it might work really well the first time,
or it might not work the first time. For games, it’s even harder as you can’t define what is fun,
for example. So you have to try what is fun. Sometimes there might be companies
where a programmer comes to tell you that something doesn’t look right. And others might feel like:
“Hey, I’m the artist here, right?” But the thing is, they’re not
necessarily commenting on your art. They’re commenting on the game. And everybody knows games, even if they don’t know
how to do server engineering. There was one game
that they released on Facebook. It was the first game they ever did here.
It was not successful enough. And there was some idea of
Facebook maybe not being the future platform for games,
and there was a shift to mobile. Freedom is an insanely big deal here. The independence is true to the teams. And that also helps when you
have to kill a game, for example. And usually when that happens
in other companies, the story can be very different
there than it is here because… killing a game is the decision of
the team, no one else’s. However much you love your design, or you think there is
some kind of point of interest, maybe, fundamentally,
there’s something wrong there. When you have creative people who have fresh ideas,
why not try something else? Whenever we kill a game, we want somebody to present
the reason why it failed, so everybody can learn. We have a slogan that
“The best teams make the best games.” It used to be “The best people
make the best games.” – Yeah…
– Now it’s “the best teams”. There was one game I worked with, and there were
the best talents in the team, but the chemistry just didn’t match,
even though they were the best guys. Then we decided that it’s the best teams
that make the best games. It’s almost like a little indie project,
or a little company you own that you have
to make work in a way. It’s very rare that you get
an experience like that. So it’s even hard for people to believe. A company that has super good talent, and wants to do good games,
and gives you freedom to do it. It is like a dream come true.