On February 16, 2021, the CEO of Supercell, Ikka Paananen, released an annual letter documenting the company’s success in 2020. In this letter, Paananen discussed COVID-19’s impact on Supercell as well as discussed the company’s games.
Paananen began by addressing COVID-19 and its impact on Supercell. The Coronavirus outbreak forced Supercell employees to work remotely. This made it difficult for the games teams (which Paananen refers to as cells) to communicate. “All of a sudden, people in our ‘cells’ were no longer able to just turn around and talk to their colleagues. They had to put effort into connecting with each other, online.” In addition, new employees had difficulty getting to know their colleagues and Supercell’s culture.
According to Paananen, the solution was to rely on trust. “We simply trusted each team to figure out what is the best way to work…and the rest of us just tried to support them in every way possible in their chosen approach.” Paananen concluded this section of the letter by thanking those who are fighting COVID-19 and by stating that he hopes that Supercell’s games have provided a safe way for people to stay connected during the pandemic.
Paananen went on to address the successes that Supercell had with its games in 2020. The number of monthly active players increased from the previous year. A part of this increase in players was due to Brawl Stars launching in China. Brawl Stars also saw the introduction of Brawl Pass. Brawl Pass is a progression system that allows players to earn rewards as they play the game. These rewards include pins, the Chromatic Brawler of the season and an exclusive skin, as well as additional standard rewards. Paananen stated that more content will be coming to Brawl Stars in 2021.
Paananen also highlighted the success of Clash of Clans and Hay Day. Clash of Clans saw new updates which included supercharging regular troops, new troops, village customization, and new hero skins. Again, Paananen said that new updates will be coming to Clash of Clans later in the year. Hay Day saw tremendous success with its Play for Trees event. In this event players revived 100 million trees bushes in-game to preserve 1 million real trees in the Lake Kariba region.
In addition, Paananen discussed the shortcomings that Supercell experienced with its games. In November 2020, Supercell made the decision to shut down its servers for Hay Day Pop, a puzzle game. Hay Day Pop failed to attract a large enough audience and its development team decided to “kill it and share their learnings with all of Supercell.” Supercell has high standards when it comes to the games it produces and will “kill” games that players won’t enjoy for years. Paananen also mentioned the problems regarding the Clan Wars 2 update in Clash Royale. “The Clan Wars 2 update did not turn out to be as great as we had hoped…and the team is fully committed to making it much better for players in 2021.”
Paananen concluded the letter by stating that he was “extremely humbled by how Suppercellians have adapted to the events of the past year and continue to drive Supercell forward.” Supercell’s focus remains to produce games that are played for years and remembered forever. Paananen thanked the players and communities who play Supercell games for inspiring the company.
Paananen’s letter shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the video game industry. Despite the pandemic, Supercell remains committed to releasing new game content throughout 2021. Certainly this will be an interesting year for fans of Supercell games.