分析者从不同的角度谈Clash of Clans的机制设计

发表于2015-11-17
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分析者从不同的角度谈Clash of Clans的机制设计


篇目1,分析《Clash of Clans》盈利机制的特点及优势

作者:Anna Marsh

从Twiiter上的争论来看,人们对免费模式(F2P)的看法不是否定就是推崇这两个极端。

我个人对此则充满矛盾。我并不认为免费模式天生就邪恶,但同时我也并没有真的喜欢过一款F2P游戏。事实上,我自己移动设备上的付费游戏数量远超过了F2P游戏。

然而,在过6个月中,《Clash of Clans》却让我真正明白免费增值模式究竟如何真正与游戏设计融为一体。

clash-of-clans(from finalcheckpoint)

clash-of-clans(from finalcheckpoint)

盈利机制

《Clash of Clans》从许多方面来说都是佳作,我认为只有真正死硬的F2P仇视者才会觉得这款游戏一无是处。

我喜欢这款游戏有多重因素——我喜欢布置自己的村庄,设置坚固完美的防御工事。我喜欢看到自己的小战士坐在营地篝火前,也喜欢游戏中最小交流需求的多人模式。

我太喜欢这款游戏了,以至于在其中逗留了6个月,它也成了为唯一为其掏钱的F2P游戏——至今花了2.99英磅,相当于我买过的最贵的付费手机游戏价格,而我玩《Clash of Clans》的时间却远超过那款付费游戏。

我说不准哪天可能再为它掏出2.99英磅。

此前已经不乏关于这款游戏的深度分析。作为游戏设计师,令我印象最深的是其付费货币的运行方式,它不但是一个付费墙,还是一个能够让人与之互动的游戏系统,丝毫无损于其他游戏机制。

混合支付方案

游戏设计归根到底,就是让一系列系统相互重叠以创造一种产生可预期、模拟结果的体验。

例如,在一款射击游戏中,其系统支配武器、瞄准、弹药、AI和环境等要素合为一体,当我扣动扳机时可以预测发射范围和方向,但实际开枪结果(游戏邦注:包括击中、致命的爆头,或者失误)却要取决于我开枪时这些结果相互整合的情况。

这样游戏才会有趣味、深度和进程感。

在我之前玩过的F2P游戏中,付费货币选项通常以极为数字化的方式呈现——付费,或者不付费。相反,《Clash of Clans》却使用了那种并不模拟化的付费货币(宝石)。

当然,我可以直接用宝石购买一项道具,或者迅速完成一项基于时间的任务。或者也可以一文不花,坐等时间到来就好。但还有第三个选择,那就是将这两种选择结合在一起。

我需要用于购买或完成一个目标所需的宝石数量,取决于我目前已经拥有的软货币数量。

无需支付500个宝石或坐等8小时,我可以选择等待6个半小时并支付150个宝石。或者收集四分之三的黄金,并抵消其余的宝石价格。

多人模式

这一点与多人模式系统相融合时则更为有趣。

玩家攻击你的时候总会盗走一部分资源,但如果他们大获其胜,你的防御盾就会自动激活一段时间。在你的防御盾激活期间,你的资源不会受损。

现在,假设我的防御盾处于激活状态,我的金矿已经提升了90%的升级所需成本,当防御盾解除激活时,我可以选择用其余的10%来抵宝石,或者再等待片刻,待另一名玩家再来攻击并盗走我刚刚生成的黄金。

此外,因为我能用宝石人为地激活防御盾,更有效率的方法是让我的黄金和冶金矿持续运作24小时,直接用宝石购买物品。

之后,我可以使用一些宝石来提高金矿的产量,如果我的防御盾自动激活,这也许就是最佳选择。或者将宝石转化为资源。并且这一切都要取决于我的村庄不同元素的升级水平。

不同的设计

总而言之,我的付费货币不只是支付或不支付这两种选择,这些选择改变了其他系统对我的游戏世界的影响。

这意味着,你可以选择进入游戏盲目地花钱,但如果略施小计,制定些计划,就可以只用一些宝石支撑到很久。这种对货币的用法也成了游戏玩法的一部分。

决定如何最大化付费货币的用途也成了我喜欢这款游戏的因素之一——找到一个尤其有效的花钱方法来解琐升级内容,可以让我在旅途中获得兴奋感,没错我就是那种小气鬼。

我并不认为自己是通过花钱在游戏中作弊或逃避“真正的”游戏(游戏邦注:有许多硬核玩家却有此类看法),而是觉得自己更像是在分散玩游戏的时间成本。

这款游戏当然并不完美,但对我来说这已经是难得的佳作,它真正让F2P这一商业模式移除了新玩家的准入门槛,并通过盈利机制增强了他们的游戏体验。

篇目2,Ilkka Paananen谈如何让每一款游戏像COC一样出色

作者:Dean Takahashi

Supercell的总部就坐落在前诺基亚研究大楼里,这座建筑本身就象征着一个教训。这家芬兰公司因《Clash of Clans》和《Hay Day》这两款手机游戏的成功而迎来辉煌。它把公 司的51%股份以15.3亿美元的价格出售给日本的软银和GungHo Entertainment。这样,Supercell的市值就达到约30亿美元,超过另一家雇员人数达2200人的社交游戏巨头公司Zynga

但是Supercell的首席执行官表示,虽然该公司做了这一交易,但这并不意味着他们不再创造游戏,他们是为了确保拥有足够的稳定性,如此才能为今后在娱乐业务中的探索打好基 础。他认为自己的工作是寻找最出色的人去创造最出色的游戏,并为他们提供最棒的工作环境。他们在6人一组的团队中工作。他们致力于游戏中,清除所有糟糕的理念,并测试最 有发展前景的理念。通过这么做,Paananen希望Supercell能够像迪士尼和任天堂那样,并且在这个有超过12亿人口在玩游戏的环境中对游戏业务带来持久且重要的影响。

在参加于赫尔辛基举办的Slush大会上,Paananen会见了一些媒体。该公司的总部位于被遗弃的诺基亚研究中心高层中的一层——诺基亚曾经是芬兰技术经济的领头军之一。而现在 ,芬兰的游戏产业及其政府投资项目主要是受到Supercell的成功的启发。

以下是我们与Paananen交谈的内容。

问题:能否和我们分享你们是怎么做的?

Ilkka Paananen:到现在我们还保持着属于自己独特的文化。我们已经将其融入到这些小型且独立的团队中,也就是我们所谓的“细胞”。这也是“Supercell”这个名字的由来。 我们认为有关游戏的决策制定权利应该下放到玩家手上。因此,独立开发者应该能够决定与自己的工作以及任何可能影响玩家的内容有关的决定。如果你这么做,你便能够优化速 度,并在致力于同一款游戏中的团队成员间创造一种归属感。

我们还为此推崇“小型”这一理念。小型团队能够更快速地发展。这里存在较少的管理,官僚主义以及处理过程。最终便能让开发者们变得更加轻松并因此创造出更出色的游戏。 再一次地,在Supercell,我们的游戏都是属于整个团队。

如你所知,在游戏产业中,公司经常会经历一个许可过程。我们却没有,因为我们并不需要。在Supercell,两个实体进行着把关。一个便是团队本身。在开发过程中,唯一一个能 够推翻制作的便是团队自己。甚至连我都不能这么做。当一个团队将其游戏推向测试市场时,这一权利便从团队手上转向玩家。这时候,他们将变成以参数或数据为中心。为了实 现全球发行,他们拥有游戏必须到达的一定参数。

简单地来说,在Supercell,两个实体拥有控制权。在开发过程中是团队,而在开发结束后,也就是在测试过程中则是玩家。这真的很简单。所有的一切都是由此展开。我们已经尝 试着创造一个零官僚主义的环境。这里只有真正有天赋的人。我们只有极少数管理者的角色。我们的主要目标只是为了创造环境,然后保持这种方式,让人们可以真正专注于他们 的工作。

作为一个组织我们还具有很大的透明度。每天早晨,整个组织都会收到一封电子邮件—-不管是实习生还是首席执行官,这是对于每一款游戏的主要表现指标。每个人都能同时获得 同样的信息。我们相信如果你能提供给人们正确的信息,你便不需要告诉他们该做什么。他们可以自己想出答案。

此外,我们也会去庆祝任何一次的失败。这并不是因为我们想要假装失败是有趣的。当我们需要终止一款游戏的制作时—-想象一个由5,6个人组成的团队连续好几个月夜以继日地 致力于这款游戏中。也许游戏并未成功。也许出现了一个糟糕的焦点小组结果。也许团队进行了测试但是用户却并不喜欢游戏。当然,在这种情况下当我们想要终止一款游戏便是 因为它并不有趣。但我们认为值得庆祝的理由在于,我们可以从失败中吸取教训。当我们不得不终止一款游戏时,我们总是会为此举办一场聚会。游戏负责团队会走上台与我们分 享哪些东西做得好,哪些做得不好,以及他们从中学到了什么。然后我们便会递给他们一瓶香槟去庆祝他们的收获。

实际上,作为一家公司,比起成功,我们经历过更多失败。去年我们便至少终止了5款游戏。最终我们只发行了2款游戏。我们将许多游戏带到测试阶段,但是许多游戏却并未如我 们期待的那样顺利。这便是商业的本性。但是我们相信如果你不主动冒险,你便不可能创造出真正受欢迎的游戏。如果你想要做一些富有创造性的尝试,你就必须承担风险。承担 风险的自然结果当然有可能面临失败。但这也是推动一家公司继续向前发展的关键。

问题:你们的任务是什么?

Paananen:我们的任务是成为第一间实至名归的全球性游戏公司。对于我们来说,真正的全球性游戏公司便是同时在广阔的西方市场(包括北美和欧洲)和每个大型东方市场(包 括日本,韩国和中国)拥有一款热门游戏。我们的目标是创造能够联合世界各地玩家的游戏。尽管离这一目标我们还有很长的一段路要走,但是至少我们已经收获了一些可喜的结 果。

我们面向iOS平台发行了两款游戏。《Clash of Clans》已经成为了139个国家的iPad畅销游戏排行榜上的冠军。《Hay Day》也在102个国家中取得了同样的结果。对于《Clash of Clans》,我们在年初将其带到了日本市场。人们都觉得我们疯了。因为他们认为日本是西方游戏公司的巨大坟场。但是我们认为必须试看看。并且对于结果我们也感到非常满意。 《Clash of Clans》在这里取得的最好成绩是iPhone畅销游戏榜单中的第3位,并且直到现在仍停留在第5位或第6位。最近我们将它带到了Android平台,并进入了排行榜的前10名 —-《Hay Day》也是如此。

人们会问我,秘诀是什么?我想可能是因为我们认为这些游戏都是与众不同的吧。许多公司都是基于“即发即弃”模式推出游戏。推出游戏,它不断发展,然而在几个月后它便会 迅速衰败。我们的游戏已经在排行榜前列维持了1年多的时间。《Hay Day》是在去年6月面向全世界发行,从那时起它就一直待在前5名内。《Clash of Clans》是在去年8月发行, 而现在它仍是美国排名第2的游戏,仅次于《Candy Crush》。它们都有很强的持久力。

为什么呢?第一个原因便是当我们创建公司时,我们最初的目标便是创造人们愿意玩好几年的游戏,而不只是几周或几个月便舍弃的游戏。Supercell中许多富有创造性的人都曾是 MMO游戏的开发者或用户。我们玩过许多像《魔兽世界》或《英雄联盟》这样的游戏。这类型游戏都具有很长的保质期。我们的梦想便是创造出像那样的游戏,但却是面向大众市场 和手机平台。当然这是我们在早期时候的想法,但很庆幸我们能够拥有这样的结果。

这一切都是源自我们将游戏当成一种服务,而非产品的心态。我们一个最明确的任务便是每一周,我们都想要创造出更适合用户的游戏。而它们也都会变得更出色。

问题:你们是否仍处于领先位置?

Paananen:我最近都没看更新了。我想在9月份的时候我们还是排在第1位。但我想现在应该也是如此,因为自从进入了日本市场,我们便取得了进一步的发展。但这仅限于iOS平台 。

另外一件让我们兴奋的事便是最近面向Android发行了《Clash of Clans》。有两件事带给我们很大的鼓励。一件是来自玩家的反应。我们获得了超过25万的评论,以及4.7的星级 。这表示用户真的在接纳我们的游戏。同时我们在2周时间里便进入了前10的排行榜单,不管是在美国还是日本。上次浏览时发现,我们在美国Android畅销游戏榜单中的排名是第3 ,而在日本是第6。在不久后《Hay Day》将紧随其后。

接下来我将说说我们近来与Softbank 和Gung Ho的交易。从根本上看,之所以会出现这笔交易是因为我们在芬兰建立了这家具有特殊目的的公司。该公司是Softbank和Gung Ho共同 所有的,前者拥有80%的股份,后者是20%。该公司拥有Supercell51%的股份。我和Mikko Kodisoja(游戏邦注:Supercell的创始人之一)都是公司的董事会成员。所以这与传统的 收购并不相同。这更像是来自合作伙伴的支持,一种策略性投资。就像你所了解的,他们已经为这些股份的获得支付了大约15亿美元,并将我们公司估值30亿美元。

问题:为什么你们要达成这一协议?

Paananen:主要有四个原因。最重要的原因是,我们认为现在仍是这一公司的发展初期。我们喜欢自己所做的事,并希望Supercell能够继续作为一家独立公司运行下去。而这一协 议能够保证公司的独立,这点非常重要。关于这一份协议中一个很大的部分便是公司的创始人对于业务仍具有表决控制权以及决策权。可以说签订了这份协议后的我们比之前更加 独立,因为创始人对于我们想要做的事有实际的控制权。我们将继续完全第独立运行。所有有关策略,产品,规划图,平台,市场营销等内容都处于创始人的完全掌控中。这是协 议所明确规定的。

这也将我带到了第二个原因。在签订协议前,以及在与Softbank的创始人见面前—-投资界的人在说到“长期”时往往意味着5至10年的期限。而当你接触了Softbank的创始人 Masayoshi Son时,你会发现在他眼中的长期期限是30年计划以及300年的愿景。他与我之前遇到的其它商业主管(特别是来自西方国家的商业主管)都不同。如果你将他们的模式 与传统的风险资本家进行比较,你会发现这些人可能永远将Supercell的股份握在手中,只要他们愿意这么做的话,这便是他们所追求的目标。

第三个原因便是,我之前曾说过我们想要成为一家名副其实的全球性游戏公司。显然Softbank能够帮助我们更快第朝着这一目标前进。他们在日本拥有很强大的占有率,并与中国 和韩国市场也维持着很好的关系。他们最近收购了美国的Sprint,在全球范围内更加活跃了。这也不是一种短期发展。在中期到长期的过程中,我们相信让他们担任股东将是一种 有益的决定。

第四个原因是,我们与Son都认为生活和商业生活并不是一种零和游戏。我们都认为自己拥有同样的意识形态,所以公司所创造的所有经济价值也是由所有参与人员所享有的,包括 所有雇员。Supercell便证实了这点。而这一协议也是另外一个案例。对于我们来说,所有人共享公司真的非常重要。不管你是一个参与者还是创始人或者只是一名普通雇员,这种 条款都是一样的。再向前发展的话我们将进行股利分配。这是Supercell文化的一大重要组成部分,我们也很高兴Softbank也具有许多相同的看法。

问题:什么是长期观点?

Paananen:我们相信自己处在一个全新的游戏时代。这与一些内容相关。其中一点是游戏作为一种大众市场现象将朝着手机和平板电脑走去。下一代的主机将找到一个新的落脚点 ,并且再一次的它也不会是一款零和游戏—因为即使手机表现得很好也不意味着主机就表现得很糟糕。但是我们相信这一设备是大众市场娱乐消费的超级设备。我们认为当提到大 众市场的消费者时,免费游戏模式便是赢家。我们相信这些游戏正变成一种服务。这不只是关于发行了某些内容并转向下一个新内容。当你发行了游戏时,你的工作才算真正开始 。我们相信自己能够创造出足以持续好几年的游戏服务。我们也相信自己可以创造出真正具有世界吸引力的游戏。

这是我们所相信的有可能改变这一产业的驱动力。为了支持这些改变,我们认为必须创造一家全新类型的游戏公司。我们的目标是创造一家深受雇员喜欢,并受到玩家长达好几十 年追捧的公司。也就是我们希望即使20年,40年或者50年过去了,你也仍会想起Supercell。到了那时候,Supercell的存在才真正具有意义。想想任天堂。我们很难找到有人不喜 欢他们所创造的角色,品牌和游戏。而我希望在30或40年后Supercell也能做到这点。

我们想要成为游戏历史的组成部分,即创造一家足以改变我们对游戏看法的公司。但这显然需要花费一定的时间。这不是1年,5年甚至是10年内就能做到的。这也是我们想要签订 这一协议的最大原因。我们希望找到一个可以与我们分享同样愿景的合作伙伴,更重要的是,他们有足够的耐心能够等到那天的到来。如果你想要尝试着做类似这样的事,那么你 需要的最重要的资产便是时间。

问题:我想要知道你是如何看待这里所存在的所有矛盾。你筹集了资金,但是你却不需要它。你是以小型和快速为目标组建了团队,但是你却以缓慢的速度在制作游戏。你愿意与 所有员工共享收益,但如此他们有可能会选择离开而创建自己的公司。拥有如此的成功可能会引出各种奇怪的事。

Paananen:这也是我与许多其它公司拥有不同想法的地方。我们面对着许多这样的问题。人们会问我或其他人:“为什么你们会在清晨早早起床?你们已经不需要在为了赚钱而工 作了啊。”我的答案始终是,我从来不是为了赚钱而工作。这听起来可能很奇怪。因为我们已经取得了成功,所有人都想要谈论我们昨天赚到了多少收益。这本身就是一个主题 —-Supercell的每日收益是多少?这对我们来说很尴尬,因为我们创造这些游戏并不是为了赚钱。我们只是对制作游戏充满热情罢了。我们只是想要创造有趣且优秀的游戏。

所以对此我的答案便是,因为我从未想过以创造游戏去赚钱,所以我不认为事情会因此发生改变。同时,我们想要在Supercell中创造最好的环境去制作游戏。这是我们作为公司的 第一个目标。这也是我们公司的创建理念。为什么人们会想要去创建自己的公司呢?如果在某些时候我们未能呈现出最适当的游戏制作环境,他们便会选择离开而创建自己的公司 。但就像我所说的,这是我们所思考的一大部分内容。我们想要为最优秀的人呈现最舒适的工作环境。

问题:你是否认为芬兰是寻找工作人员的最佳场所?

Paananen:是的。这对我们来说很重要—-在这方面我们同意Softbank以及其它股东的看法,所以公司的总部将继续保持在芬兰。这是我们的家。不过话虽如此,我们也有30名来自 不同国家的工作人员。粗略算来我们有一半芬兰员工以及一半来自外国的员工。可以说这是一个多元化的群组。

拥有这种多文化环境让我们的工作变得更有趣。但这也拥有一个明确的商业利益。如果你尝试着成为名副其实的世界性游戏公司,它将帮助你在办公室拥有自己的“迷你地球”。 不管我们谈论的是哪个市场,我们都有来自当地的成员能够进行交谈。

问题:你是主要面向iOS发行游戏,然后才转向Android。你是否认为随着Android市场的发展,这种模式会发生变化,或者你仍会主要专注于iOS?

Paananen:我认为这要结合所有的情况。我们在iOS平台上面临较少的分裂。是的,这是众所周知的事,但是从市场利益来看它也略胜一筹。但就像我所说的,这是到目前为止可行 的方法。而今后我们将会继续思考怎样才是最适合自己的。

问题:《愤怒的小鸟》在撞击到最高点后开始在畅销游戏榜单上下滑了。你将如何处理未来可能出现的这种情况?

Paananen:这归根究底就是我们如何设计一跨优秀游戏的原理。就像我所说的,我们的目标是设计出人们愿意玩好几年的游戏。我们的游戏已经做到了这点,就像《Hay Day》便在 排行榜前列维持了18个月。我们还未看到任何下降的痕迹。但再一次,我们必须清楚这是游戏产业。我们很难在此预测未来。我们也谦逊地意识到这种情况也会出现在自己身上。 我们尝试着去专注的唯一一件事便是确保在每一周这些游戏能够变得更好,更适合玩家,即不断发行更新内容和新内容,并听取玩家的反馈。我们尽所能地做好这些事。这也是我 们唯一能够做到的。

但我认为像我们的游戏这样的游戏是属于新游戏文化的组成部分。游戏几乎成为我们日常生活的一部分了。我们的许多《Hay Day》玩家便表示自己会在每天吃早饭和睡觉前检查农 场的状况。这些游戏成为了他们日常生活众多一部分。平均我们的每个玩家一天会玩9次游戏(即包含这两款游戏)。这是一个平均值。更活跃的玩家一天会玩10次。这些游戏就像 Facebook一样,即你每天都会检查多次的一种服务。只要你能够将这些游戏真正融入玩家的生活中,它们便能长久地存在着。

让人们愿意回到这些游戏的另外一个元素便是游戏的社交属性。《Clash of Clans》便在这方面表现突出。人们愿意回头玩这款游戏的一大原因便不是因为游戏本身。而是因为他 们在游戏中遇到的其他人。这听起来可能很奇怪,但的确是别人吸引你回到游戏中。

因为这两点原因—-人们如何消费这些游戏和他们如何设计这些游戏,以及最重要的它们如何具有社交性,我们才相信这些游戏将拥有很长的寿命。

问题:为什么你们优先选择一个跨国跨文化的劳动力?

Paananen:这主要有两个原因。首先,在这样的环境下工作会更有趣,即这里有许多来自不同背景的人。其次,这创造了较强的商业意识。当你尝试着面向全球市场开发游戏时, 来自不同文化的成员能够提供给你有关游戏的合理反馈。当你在对游戏进行本土化时,你们可以更好地分享看法。这很有意义。

问题:以《Clash of Clans》为例,你们平均中每个玩家身上获取多少利益?

Paananen:我们并未真正公开这种收益KPI。就像我之前所提到的,对于我们以及其它免费游戏来说,大多数玩家都是非付费玩家。只有少部分玩家愿意为游戏掏钱。这是一种很棒 的模式,因为只要我们做得合理,这对于所有人来说都是双赢的。那些不想花钱的人可以不必花钱,并且可以免费玩高质量的游戏。当然,那些愿意花钱的玩家也可以选择想要支 付多少费用。如果执行得当,我想免费游戏便是一种制胜模式—-不管是从开发者角度来看还是从消费者角度来看。

问题:在亚洲,似乎“付钱玩一轮”模式非常受欢迎。你是否会面向不同的市场创造一款完全不同的游戏?

Paananen:这是人们所建议的。我们很愚蠢地开始为本土市场改变游戏。但是不管如何改变,他们都不如本土的游戏出色。所以我们开始思考其它方法。除了本土化游戏,我们不 再改变任何内容。这便是我们的游戏,是游戏的灵魂定义了它们。如果你开始改变游戏的灵魂,它便不可能成为任何人的选择。所以我们保持游戏不变,只是对其进行本土化。这 就是我们所遵循的方法,也符合我们想要成为一家名副其实的全球性游戏公司的愿景。

问:我们什么时候能看到Supercell的下一款游戏?

Paananen(以下简称P):(笑)当它准备好的时候。在Supercell,开发团队有控制权。我们一直坚守的一条原则是:尽早测试游戏是合理的。你可能已经知道我们现在正在加拿 大的应用商店测试游戏《Boom Beach》。我们的模式是管用的,正如我所说的,先由团队做决定,再于由玩家做决定。对于《Boom Beach》,如果玩家喜欢它,我们就全球发行; 否则我们就放弃它。就这么简单。我们公司还有其他团队在做其他游戏,也采用了相同的原则。那些团队也快有一些东西要测试了。如果可行,那就太好了。他们就会把产品正式 发布;如果测试结果不好,那就放弃然后转向下一个产品。

问:你是连续创业者吗?你管过多少公司?

P:我想我可以自称是连续创业者吧。2000年时我和我的朋友一起创办了我们的第一家游戏公司Sumea。2004年,雇员达到40人时我们把公司卖给了Digital Chocolate,我于2010年 时离开公司。我休息了几个月后很幸运地成为后来的Supercell的创始人之一。

问:从一个公司转向另一个公司,从一种环境转向另一个环境,你学习到的最重要的经验是什么?

P:首先,人才是关键,我说的是创意人才。人才才是最重要的。如果你有了最优秀的人才,那么做出好游戏是迟早的事。

我的另一个教训是,尽量减少官僚主义。许多公司都有游戏审核会,也就是让团队把他们的游戏摆在委员会面前,然后由委员会反馈意见。这是很费时间的活儿。这可能导致恶梦 般的情况——团队游说委员会和准备游说的时间比做游戏还多。而在Supercell是不会发生这种事的。那就是为什么甚至连我都不能叫停一款游戏。我的目标之一是,我要把自己变 成世界上最没权力的CEO。我对自己以及管理层的定位是促成者,其作用是保证最优秀的人才能专注于他们的工作。我们努力为他们创造最好的环境。

游戏是一个看重人才的行业,人是关键。这是我学习到的最重要的一课。第二个重要的教训是保持“小”的价值。与我们的许多竞争者相比,我们仍然是一家非常小的公司,并且 我们希望继续保持“小”。在小公司工作更有趣得多。当工作成为一件有趣的事时,你做出来的游戏就会更有趣。就是这么简单的道理。“小”的附加优势是,当公司很小时,你 就不需要管理层、官僚主义和走程序这类人人都讨厌的东西。

问:你认为理想的团队规模是多少?你是如何计划和管理那些团队以及他们所做的游戏?

P:《Clash of Clans》的开发团队一开始是5个人。我们尽量保持团队小——大约5到7、8人吧。至于运营团队,因为我们每天服务于百万玩家,所以人数要多一些,但规模仍然控 制在约10到15人之间。

clash of clans(from modojo.com)

clash of clans(from modojo.com)

问:对于小公司,芬兰的经济环境算是友好的吗?

P:是的,非常好。现在这里有非常适合小公司的生态系统。在芬兰,创立公司是很容易的。我们的企业税率非常有竞争力。从明年起,这个税率应该只有20%,是欧洲最低的税率 之一了。从这一方面来说,芬兰的经济环境是非常有竞争力的,很容易吸引国外的创业者到这里来。另外,这里的官僚主义氛围很淡,治安好,非常适合居住。我们还有世界上最 好的教育体系。在过去几年,芬兰在这些方面一直是榜样。总之,优势非常多。

我们有一个很大的优势是,政府提供财政支持。Supercell就是这么成立起来的:我们6个人组成团队,投了几千欧元创立了公司;然后我们向政府贷了大约40万欧元。如果没有这 笔钱,Supercell可能不会存在了。政府给创业者提供这些贷款。即使你失败了,你个人也不会破产。这是一种非常好的模式。除了这些贷款,你还可以得到补助金。这一路走来我 们已经拿了几百万的补助金了,这些钱帮助很大。在芬兰还很容易从国外融资。大风投公司如Accel、Index和Atomico等等都有投资芬兰的公司。

选择芬兰我还有一个个人原因,那就是,我坚信总有一天赫尔辛基会成为游戏业枢纽——欧洲的硅谷,你可以这么叫它。许多其他地区也在竞争这个地位,比如柏林、伦敦等,但 我认为我们的环境好。我们有优势,至少在游戏方面。这里已经有很多很强的游戏公司了。

问:你刚提到,你们拿了创业贷款后又得到补助金。你能不能具体解释一下?

P:政府可以提供两种资助。第一种就是贷款。他们可以支助你最多70%的项目总成本。你最终是要偿还这些贷款的,但利息率很低,可能1%吧,还贷的时限是5年或7年。

第二种资助是补助金,是不需要你偿还的。最好的情况下,他们可能会提供占你的开支的50%的补助金。我们很早就拿到那笔资助了。

基本上,如果你投资商或者风投的角度看,这是一件好事。假设我是一个风投商,我投了100万欧元。除了那100万欧元,我已经知道那家公司会从政府那里拿到另一个100万欧元。 资本没有被冲淡,所以不会消弱我的所有权。政府贷款使芬兰成为一个非常有吸引力的投资圣地。

问:我理解那对你们来说是一件天大的好事,但我很好奇这对芬兰的纳税人来说,意味着什么(笑)?

P:仅这一年,Supercell——我想创始人和公司一起支付了约2.7亿欧元的税吧。在此之前,纳税人在我们身上花了约500或600万欧元。所以我觉得从芬兰政府的角度来说,这是一 笔很划算的投资。有人计算,仅Supercell一家公司就返还了政府投给其他小公司所有的钱。因为Supercell的成功,我们回报的比得到的更多。

在诺基亚崩溃之后,这个国家得重新改造自己了。我们需要新的公司,光有Rovio和Supercell还不够。我们需要更多更多公司。在这里的每个人都意识到这一点。从政府的角度看 ,这是一笔长远的投资。

问:你对整个游戏产业有什么看法?你希望它变得更像Supercell吗?你认为大发行商正在失去影响力吗?

P:我希望在这整个游戏行业中,更多的力量回归到创意人才手中。我玩过老LucasArts工作室的游戏和《模拟城市》,那都是好游戏,但都不是大团队开发的。那些游戏受硬盘空 间等条件的限制,所以更专注于玩法,毕竟不可能靠图像吸引玩家。那些游戏就是有趣,正是当时的创意天才们留下的宝贵遗产。我希望游戏行业回到那个游戏的黄金时代—-充满 创意能量和热情的小团队具有更多的控制权。

现在的游戏产为好像由营销人员掌管了。出于某些原因,游戏开始把电影当作它们的学习榜样。突然之间,你得花大量钱做游戏了。一切都是第一周的销量为指标,就像电影一样 。游戏公司在发行前造势,这也像电影。我不确定这对游戏来说是否是正确的模式。

问:你能为什么是创新的关键因素?你们打算什么时候开发新游戏?

P:关键因素有二。第一,把权力交给创意人才。以这种方式组织公司,使创意人才成为前沿和中心。尽可能让他们自由。允许他们失败。你得消除失败的后顾之忧,否则。那些人 才就不敢冒险。没有冒险,哪来的创新?没有创新,哪来的好游戏?你必须给这些创意人才创造一个友好的、温情的环境。

问:有没有一个决定什么是成功和什么是失败的规则或标准?

P:是的,有的。有时候人们会误解我们的文化。有些人认为我们的公司文化就是,团队可以爱干什么就干什么,结果不重要。这是弥天大误。在我们的团队开始做什么项目以前, 我们要花相当的时间制定他们的项目测试时必须达到的指标。我们对那些目标是很严格的。如果他们达不到那些目标,那么项目就作废。就是这样。

我不会详细说明那些目标,但基本与留存率和沉浸感有关。30天后有多少人返回游戏?他们每天上线多少次?等等。我们很仔细地定义这些目标。那是团队和公司之间的约定。只 要团队达到那些目标,就可以搞发布。否则,项目作废。

因为团队规模小,Supercell可能有比较高压的游戏开发环境。这并不适合每一个人。你必须非常积极主动,对游戏和自己的工作充满激情。否则,你就不能适应这里。但对于对的 人,这就是一个理想的工作环境。

问:有人认为现在的人更加不注重工作-生活的平衡性,你怎么管理那些有家室的人或者必须弹性工作的人?你不想看到有人伏案工作到晚上10点吗?

P:我们当然不希望看到有人工作到深夜。如果你下午5点半来我们办公室,你会发现这里基本上空了。我没开玩笑。我们的工作时间是很灵活的。再者,我们信任我们自己的人。 我们不用告诉他们什么时间工作。我们不用记录他们的工作小时。我们完全不管他们。我们只是信任他们。

我们只有一条简单的原则——做对团队和游戏最好的事。有些人有时候在办公室上班,有时候在家里工作,那也是允许的。我们关心的只有结果。我们不关心你到底花了多少小时 工作。

游戏行业一直以从业人员过度劳累而招徕骂名。加班几乎是惯例。有些团队一整年都在加班赶进度。首先,这本来就是错误的。它是扼杀生命。但从商业的角度看,我也不认为是 合理的。谁能够全年每天工作18个小时还保持高效率的?在这种情况下,你不可能有什么效率和创造力的。这对公司来说也不划算。我们坚持正常的工作日。但当我们工作时,我 们就要非常努力非常专注地工作。

如果你想做出世界上最好的游戏,那当然需要付出更多努力和时间。但多付出的时间是有补偿的,你可以休假。我们对这方面非常重视。如果你在三年内就把你的人都累垮了,那 你还谈什么“创造历史”?正如我说的,创造历史是要花几十年的时间的。

问:你们在理念上是否与GungHo合拍?

P:我们最大的共通之处是,我们对游戏的整体看法。GungHo的人可是运营着这个星球上最赚钱的游戏——《Puzzle & Dragons》。然而,你几乎听不到他们谈论赢利的事。他们认 为游戏就应该有趣,如果你做的游戏有趣,你就能赚钱。这就是他们的理念。据我所知,他们也非常尊重创意人才。

Puzzle & Dragons(from watchandroid.blogspot)

Puzzle & Dragons(from watchandroid.blogspot)

在我看来,他们是这个行业中最好的人。有意思的是,我们与他们当中的大部分人甚至语言不通,但无论何时我们一起出去,我们总是玩得很开心。芬兰文化和日本文化居然有一 些相当令人惊喜的共性。比如说,我们去别人家作客都要脱鞋才能进门。(笑)我们都知道怎么办好聚会。很多地方都很像。

我真的非常欣赏他们。所以我们很高兴他们决定与我们合作。那对我们来说意义重大。即使就投资的总金额来看,他们只占了20%。

问:你认为诺基亚的衰弱是必然的吗?还是说它做了一些错误的选择?

P:我不是诺基亚的分析师,但它显然是有一些失误的。说其他什么话都是说谎。他们没有抓住一些相当重要的趋势。那些后来者消灭了诺基亚。所以,我认为确实是有失误。但那 也是商业生命的一部分。听起来有些可笑,但我认为它会好起来的——特别是与微软的最近合作,我想它会好好努力的。正如我所说的,它迫使这个国家改造自己。我们可以放下 过去,继续做一些新的东西。

问:你所说的模式出自你的游戏行业经验,那么你认为公司可以把它运用于其他方面吗?

P:也许吧,但我也不肯定,因为除了游戏,我在其他行业都没有经验。给建议是危险的,特别是如果你曾经成功过的话。(笑)成功竟然会改变人们对你的看法,真有意思。两年 以前我在游戏开发者大会上说过同样的事。当时大约有30个人在听我的演讲,其中有约25个人是我叫得出名字的。(笑)没有人是真的对我说的东西感兴趣。然而我现在仍然讲相 同的故事相同的文化相同的价值观,却人人爱听。唯一的不同就是,现在我们成功了,而那时我们还没有成功。

我真的认为让我们成功的就是那种模式,但那并不意味着我们以同样的方法让别人也成功。大家应该找到最适合自己的模式。但作为经验法则,这种模式把更多的自主权交给真正 干活的人。这通常来说是有益的。

篇目3,分析《Clash of Clans》的游戏盈利设计

作者:Pete Koistila

游戏体验:警告——-玩游戏可能成瘾

你一旦开始就无法收手了。这就是《Clash of Clans》。这款游戏初次发布之后,在教程中间序列就展开了Goblins攻击,你就会深深陷入其中,无法回头了。

你首次启动《Clash of Clans》,可能很会连续不间断地玩上数个小时。游戏极具成瘾性和粘性因素。你会一直重返游戏。让我们分析一下其中的原因吧。

它的用户界面通俗易懂,图像也极为精致,音效和音乐与游戏体验相得益彰,你们多数人都不会太容易对游戏生腻,因为它具有“深度”,设计精良的核心循环,留存性、盈利和社交机制来支持游戏体验。

核心循环:清晰和简单,持续进步

设计精良的核心循环会奖励玩家的积极行为,并推动玩家每次游戏的进程。《Clash of Clans》核心循环由三个不同的操作组成:

Clash_of_clans_core_loop(from gamasutra)

Clash_of_clans_core_loop(from gamasutra)

1.通过收集资源,你可以获得万能药和钱币。

2.建设和训练你的军队需要花费万能药和钱币。

3.通过战斗你可以搜集更多万能药和钱币。并且这会影响你的排名。

留存性:新手、中级和精英群体

留存率衡量的是你让玩家重返游戏的有效性。例如,有多少比例的首天游戏玩家会在第二天重返游戏。

据Supercell的Ilkka Paananen所述,Supercell追踪的关键指标是第1天、第7天和第30天的留存率。Supercell成员Lasse Louhento曾透露,公司将《Clash of Clans》玩家划分为三个阶段:新手、中级和精英群体。每个群体都有不同的游戏体验方式,留存率也不尽相同。

在你首次开始玩游戏时,你会注意到教程内容就已经将你吸引到游戏中,我就会接连不断地学到新内容。重要的是,在游戏的早期阶段并不会对此有太多的依赖性,因为这可能会令新手困惑。优化教程部分极大提升了这款游戏的留存率。

在新手阶段,玩家必须成功完成任务并成为社区中富有价值和投入性的成员。

盈利性:关于消费者行为的心理学

《Clash of Clans》中几乎所有的细节都是针对盈利而设计(游戏邦注:例如常规的军队训练和建设你的村庄)。你总是有需要花钱的地方。这里的盈利方式取决于你加速游戏进程的需求。你玩得越多,就越需要花时间获得成就。或者通过花钱走捷径来加速游戏进程。

在游戏最开始,你有相当数量的免费宝石(游戏内置货币,可用真钱购买)。在数个小时后,你就会用光这些免费宝石,因为你已经将所有宝石用于购买黄金和万能药(这是游戏中的两种软货币,可用宝石购买)。此时你对于宝石的心理概念已经成型了。黄金和万能药是廉价的,你得用宝石来购买这些东西。现在你必须获得更多宝石,你可以通过游戏中的“商店”购买这些东西。你购买首批宝石所需投入的真钱门槛很低。《Clash of Clans》优化了用真钱执行首次交易的操作。

如果你想查看自己需要花掉多少真钱才能获得宝石,这就会运用到另一项心理技巧:只有当你打算购买更多宝石时,游戏才会以真钱形式呈现价格。否则你就只会一直投入黄金和万能药这两种软货币。

游戏玩法的竞争层面是一个盈利环节。有些玩家想比别人投入更多钱来发挥更出色的表现。《Clash of Clans》排名前列的玩家之一Jorge Yao就曾在游戏中投入3000美元,以便维持6个月稳居《Clash of Clans》玩家榜单之首的状态。

这些铁杆玩家(鲸鱼用户)在现实生活中甚至也能得到特殊照顾。Supercell为这些付费玩家组织了提供免费啤酒和零食的特殊活动。

这款游戏的平均每用户收益(ARPU)是4.6美元,日常收益则从75万至515万美元左右。其盈利策略的确卓有成效。

Clash of Clans(from coc.duowan.com)

Clash of Clans(from coc.duowan.com)

社交层面:你想成为我的部落成员吗?

《纽约时报》曾报道Jorge Yao这名玩家花钱稳定自己在这款游戏中6个月的排名。他成了一个虚拟名人,也因此成为一个社交媒体明星,获得了超过3万个Facebook点赞,将近10的Twitter粉丝,其Youtube采访视频观看次数超过40万。这怎么可能呢?《Clash of Clans》中的一名玩家怎么就上升成了社交媒体明星呢?

《Clash of Clans》其中含有多个社交层面:首先,游戏通常会引导玩家创造自己的部落同好友玩游戏,并为自己的部落吸收新成员。部落成员通过发送增援部队而相互帮助。你可以用苹果ID通过Game Center或者使用Facebook帐号挑战好友。你的Game Center好友会在你登录该平台时现身。

其次,游戏中的整体&部落信息板总是保持可视性和可用性。你可以同世界其他玩家分享自己的信息,也可以只同自己的部落成员分享。

第三,排名列表(顶级部落、顶级玩家)支持用户浏览顶级玩家资料,访问他们的村庄(想象一下你可以在其中访问任何村庄以及查看排名第一的玩家所在的村庄,这种感觉棒极了!)以及部落资料。你可以搜索到任何部落。部落拥有两种不同类型:仅受邀请可入,以及任何人都可加入的类型。这一切都在鼓励玩家一起玩游戏。不要忘了Louhento提到将玩家划分成三个群体的情况。有一个群体被称为精英群体。这也正是Jorge Yao人气如此之高的原因。他是某个被称为North 44这个仅受邀请可入的精英群体成员。任何人都可以在顶级玩家列表上浏览他的资料,查看他的村庄。

你可以用单人模式或多人模式玩游戏。如果你选择以单人模式玩游戏,游戏仍会鼓励你使用所有之前罗列的功能来同他人一起玩游戏。你可以在任何时间从单人模式切换到多人模式。你可以用可视的“攻击”按钮完成这个操作。这里有个很高明的逻辑:你可以在单人或多人模式中投入真钱。这两个模式都很有粘性和成瘾性!

这款游戏的社交层面似乎极为奏效,《Clash of Clans》的Facebook月活跃用户(MAU)从2013年第一季度的100万增长至2014年第二季度的730万。所有的Supercell游戏(游戏邦注:包括《Clash of Clans》、《Hay Day》和《Boom Beach》)截止2014年2月7日,日活跃用户共达294万。

数据不会说谎,它的社交层面、游戏体验、核心循环、留存和盈利性都比以往更奏效了。

篇目4,分析《Clash of Clans》设计的改进空间

这里我可以看到一个模式,首先是Supercell的首款游戏《Hay Day》成为iPhone和iPad的最佳农场游戏,现在轮到《Clash of Clans》成为iOS平台的最佳策略游戏之首。

《Clash of Clans》之所以成为一款出色的游戏,是因为Supercell的游戏开发制胜法则在发挥作用。首先该作发掘的是既有的社交游戏主题,然后针对该题材游戏中的最佳之作进行反向工程,以便创造强大而自然的核心循环。你可以围绕这一可靠的核心循环创造了一款游戏,对游戏玩法进行优化和调整,并用炫目的图像装点外观。最后通过仅针对加拿大市场的测试将游戏优化到尽善尽美,一旦优化完毕,游戏中的KPI看似可靠之时,便是游戏重磅出击并横扫热门排行榜的时候。

clash of clans(from deconstructoroffun)

clash of clans(from deconstructoroffun)

但即使《Clash of Clans》已经是该类题材中最出色的游戏,它也仍然存在一些不尽完美之处。虽然游戏已经过高度优化和润色,但它在一些关键游戏玩法机制、病毒传播性以及盈利功能上仍然存在改进空间。

核心循环

《Clash of Clans》的核心循环有三个主要部分:搜集资源、建设&训练,以及战斗。但并非所有的环节都同样重要,因为每个环节的重要性要取决于玩家在游戏中的持续目标,这就会产生不同的玩法风格(游戏邦注:比如有些人喜好搜集资源,有些玩家热衷于搞建设,有些则是好战分子)。

core loop(from deconstructoroffun)

core loop(from deconstructoroffun)

(搜集资源——巧妙地利用了自动化农场机制)

Coins和Elixir是《Clash of Clans》中的两种软货币。为了产生Elixir和Coins,玩家只需拥有Elixir搜集器和金矿便可。自动产生资源意味着玩家无需启动资源生产,也不需要等待其生产完毕。还要注意的是,资源生产设施有一个上限数值,这意味着在资源达到特定数量时,该设施才会停产资源,而玩家搜集这些资源之后它们又会继续开工。为了提升资源生产上限,玩家必须为资源生产设施升级。

farming mechanics(from deconstructoroffun)

farming mechanics(from deconstructoroffun)

(玩家开创的农场机制vs自动化农场机制)

《Clash of Clans》中的资源生产处理得很完美。首先,你每次开启游戏时都可以去收割你所有的资源;其次,自动化农场机制鼓励新玩家频频访问游戏,因为资源生产设施会在早期很快达到生产上限。

建设&训练——所有事物都相互依存

简明地讲,一切与建设有关的事情都要消耗Coins,与军队有关的事情则都要使用Elixir。这意味着一个建筑开始施工,进行调研或升级都得花费Coins或者Elixir,当然还有投入时间。升级建筑的时间则取决于该建筑当前的等级,因此刚开始升级建筑很快,但更高级的建筑升级就非常之慢。升级的价格曲线也同此理。

升级建筑对游戏进程来说很关键,因为需要更多资源建设更大更好的单位。其升级流程设计的绝妙之处在于,所有事物都相互联系,这意味着玩家不可以只是升级特定建筑,所有东西都要升级。

如下图。要升级金矿,玩家就需要Elixir,而升级Elixir搜集器就需要Coins。这就将资源绑定在一起,升级一个资源生产设施,就需要耗费其他资源生产设施所出产的东西。根据玩家总部(HQ)等级情况,每个玩家的建筑等级都有一个最大值。升级HQ需要大量的Coins,而要储藏这些Coins玩家就需要有一个Coin仓库,后者又需要耗费大量的Elixir,接下来的情况,你懂的……

clash of clans’ economy(from deconstructoroffun)

clash of clans’ economy(from deconstructoroffun)

(在《Clash of Clans》的经济系统中一切事物都紧密相连)

尽管如此,玩家仍要面临只能兼顾两个建筑这一最大的建设/进程限制。换句话说,玩家在同一时间内只能建设/升级两个单位。如果要消除这一限制就需付费5美元,这相当于再加一个建筑的价格。如果你想要第四个建筑,那就要付费10美元。

战斗——不惩罚玩家

训练军队要消耗Elixir和时间。你生产的军队越多,花费的Elixir就越多,就越需要投入生产时间。但时间和Elixir并非限制玩家组建更多军队的唯一限制因素。每个更高级的单位都需要更大的安置空间,这就需要更大的军营。军营也要升级,升级又要消耗资源、时间,当然这也涉及升级HQ……这里你又绕进了游戏经济体系中那种环环相扣的圈子。

unit(from deconstructoroffun)

unit(from deconstructoroffun)

(军队单位需要消耗Elixir和时间,更高级的单位则需要更大的空间)

这样玩家就面临一个令人沮丧的问题:你在战斗中所使用的军队无论是成功还是失败都会消耗资源。所以你只能一直建设军队,即使你赢了一场大胜利,也仍会消耗兵力。

从经济角度来看,消耗玩家的进攻兵力对Elixir的生产来说影响甚大。但从用户留存角度而言,我真的认为这一战斗机制应该重新改造。在我看来,Kabam的《Edgeworld》战斗机制更胜一筹,因为它允许玩家撤退(攻击其他玩家),并保留那些赢得战役的单位。这一设计不但更人性化,而且还创造了更多超级单位的需求(游戏邦注:玩家可以使用超级单位参与多场战役)。相信我,超级单位的热销情况不亚于电影院贩售的爆米花。

进展

《Clash of Clans》中健康的留存率主要得益于玩家在游戏中所取得的稳定而可视性的进展。留存率中的第二个关键因素就是设计极为良好的核心循环,它会为活跃玩家提供奖励,让他们每次重返游戏时都获得一定进展。最后,留存率还与通知有关,每当你不记得重返游戏时,你的iPhone或iPad总会提醒你,不要忘了游戏中一些正在建设的重要内容。

《Clash of Clans》有一些很棒的首次体验流程,因为它创造了玩家与游戏区域的情感依附。游戏始于玩家进入自己的村庄,在此之前玩家会遇到与地精的一系列交锋。玩家用大炮保卫村庄(学习防御之术)并发起反击(学会战斗)。在反击战之后,玩家返回村庄并快速通过核心循环(游戏邦注:建设资源生产设施、建设兵营、训练军队)直到向地精发起第二次进攻。第二次进攻之后,游戏进程降至一般发展速度,并向玩家介绍其取得的成就。

start small(from deconstructoroffun)

start small(from deconstructoroffun)

(游戏刚开始时玩家的条件很简陋)

但取得进展并不仅仅是获得更多资源和升级建筑物及军队。进展还与你的村庄外观变化有关。刚开始时微小的村庄会缓慢发展成一个规模堪比《魔兽争霸》的庞大系统。

《Clash of Clans》与类似游戏相比的创新之处在于单人玩家任务流。这里的单人玩家任务会单独呈现一个地图,直到玩家参与PvP战斗为止。

choose players or AI(from deconstructoroffun)

choose players or AI(from deconstructoroffun)

(玩家可自主选择要与其他玩家还是AI交战)

病毒传播性

《Clash of Clans》的终极目标是打败其他玩家,并成为获胜部落的一员。在开头几天,玩家可免受其他玩家的攻击 ,但这个防御盾消除之后,你的村庄一天之内可能就会遭遇1-3次的灭顶之灾。每次防御失败几小时后才会重新激活防御盾。

玩家有两种途径让自己免受摧毁。首先玩家需要建立起自己的防御系统,也就是可以在异步PvP战斗中自动保护村庄的围墙、陷阱、大炮、瞭望塔、迫击炮等建防御工事。其次玩家需要通过修缮临近自己村庄的城堡而加入一个部落。

castle(from deconstructoroffun)

castle(from deconstructoroffun)

(游戏区域中不乏这种破败的部落城堡,这是一个建立长期目标,又免于吓退新玩家的好方法。)

加入部落后,玩家就可以聊天并在理论上部署作战计划,或者为其他部落成员报仇。实际上看,你确实可以聊天,甚至捐赠一些兵力,但你并不能协助作战,因为在《Clash of Clans》中你无法真正选择攻击对象。

你只能报复那些曾经攻击过你的敌人,或者只能随机攻击那些经验等级与你相当的人。

那么除了获得一些低级的增援部队,成为部落的一员究竟有何意义呢?如果你是一个强大部落的一员,你们所有人都会受益。因为游戏中每周都有部落竞赛,在战斗中造成最大破坏力者将赢得奖励。所以对于一小部分精英玩家来说,部落真是一个很有趣的元素,但对广大的日常玩家来说却并非如此。如果玩家能够接到部落每周竞争的通知,那就再好不过了。

第二个问题在于好友之间。玩家可以通过Facebook同步玩游戏,这样可以看到自己所有的游戏好友。但这种同步游戏关系终止时,你只能访问或查看他们的部落(并加入他们),但却不能攻击好友,也不能向他们发送信息,不能向他们赠送礼物,不能向他们索求物品。更不要说邀请从未玩游戏的好友加入游戏。

communicate(from deconstructoroffun)

communicate(from deconstructoroffun)

(我认识所有人,但就是不能跟他们交谈)

第三个问题在于缺乏世界地图,这是一个很严重的问题,因为地图有助于创造玩家之间的竞争感,而竞争与留存率及盈利性不无关系。例如,在Kixeye的《Backyard Monsters》中,你可以看到临近的玩家并攻击对方,征服新领地并在其中创建自己的前哨站。

盈利性

《Clash of Clans》拥有盈利性极高的鲸鱼玩家,因为其中的物品售价会随游戏进程的发展而增长,多数留存玩家比新玩家更乐意消费高价商品。简而言之,ARPPU(每付费用户平均收益)与留存率关系紧密。

在这款游戏中,玩家需要为加速游戏进程而付费。在核心循环那一部分内容中我们已经提到,从建设、升级到训练军队单位,每个操作都要耗费一定时间。

玩家可以使用宝石迅速完成当前任务。在最初阶段,无论你做什么事情都只需要一点时间,这不但有助于留存用户,还能鼓励玩家使用一开始就持有的免费宝石完成生产过程。所以在最开始时,玩家很容易取得进展,他们因完成任务而获取的免费宝石也会促使他们采取这种操作(玩家第一次可能是被迫使用宝石,但多次之后就会习惯了)。但随着游戏发展,生产资源所需的时间也会增长,你很快就会发现自己需要等待数天才能完成一个生产任务,有些玩家就会选择付费来跳过这种等待。

price point(from deconstructoroffun)

price point(from deconstructoroffun)

宝石也可以转换成Coins或Elixir。我通常喜欢分别出售虚拟和付费货币,因为这样有助于鼓励付费玩家多次购买物品。打个比方,如果分别出售资源,购买宝石可以让玩家迅速完成一项生产任务。那么玩家就会希望马上启动一个新的建设任务,这就会产生Coins或Elixir的需求。玩家会缺乏这种软货币,因为他只是加快了生产速度,并没有等待足够长的时间,所以资源生产设施里头依旧空空如也。当然,玩家可以快速完成资源生产任务,但这并不会创造重新购买的交易,只是徒增其宝石耗量而已。

《Clash of Clans》还缺乏增强能量的道具。其实可以让玩家使用强大的易消耗武器来提升战胜率(不要低估玩家为自己的村庄复仇的决心)。这或许有利于将那些已经取得一定进展,但并不认为值得花30美元加速某项生产任务的玩家转化为付费用户。

总结

《Clash of Clans》是一款出众的游戏,Supercell对这一题材的挖掘十分到位,超越了Kabam和Kixeye等战略游戏领域的行家。更令人称道的是,这还是Supercell首次涉猎战略游戏题材。

《Clash of Clans》是核心循环、出色图画与流畅玩家的平衡组合。它在收益榜单登顶的原因则是极为稳固的留存率和经济系统,而由于成本上涨,留存用户的每笔交易额也会相应提升。

但即便如此,《Clash of Clans》在玩法(战斗模式)、病毒性(世界地图、好友互动)以及盈利性上仍有较大提升空间。现在的问题是,是否有人能够推出优化版的《Clash of Clans》,或者Supercell能否在未来的升级版本中持续创造佳绩。我认为后一种情况更有可能,因为Supercell已表明他们有足够的耐心来优化游戏。他们不会被财报所绑架,他们也总是根据产品质量而非高管的意志来决定最终发布日期。我相信Supercell已经掌握了一个制作卓越社交游戏的制胜法则。

篇目5,分析《Clash of Clans》所存在的玩法局限性

作者:Jon Jordan

生活中的一切事物都存在始终。

一些事物会带给我们惊喜,也有些事物是计划好的。

这是我从最初玩Supercell的《Clash of Clans》以来一直在思考的一个问题。

那时候我并不是很了解这款游戏,即在2012年8月只在加拿大进行游戏测试期间,甚至没人相信它会创造出巨大的商业和文化影响,并成为史上最受欢迎且最赚钱的游戏之一。

从个人来看,我从未花过如此长的时间和金钱去玩一款游戏。

急剧下滑

让我们通过这种方法去赚钱。

与许多玩家一样,我最初在《Clash of Clans》中消费是因为游戏要求使用3000个宝石去购买额外的施工人员:一个针对于早期游戏阶段(游戏邦注:那时候你拥有较多资源,但却缺少施工人员)的硬门设计。

我共花了70多美元去购买货币加快建造速度,并购买了具有新功能的防御工具。

作为这样一款基于资源的游戏,在出现新单位或建筑更新时,我们只能感受到一次满足的高峰。

我们可以从市政厅(控制着玩家主要资源,如金币和矿藏升级的核心建筑)的更新周期中清楚地看到这点。

clash of clans 1(from gamasutra)

clash of clans 1(from gamasutra)

这是最昂贵的升级建筑,但是当你完成这一建筑的升级后,你便打开了一层更加昂贵的升级,即能够快速覆盖你所打开的更高能力的资源生产。

基础设施成本

当然了,《Clash of Clans》的城市建造元素并不是游戏的全部。

这只是你创建军队的基础,不管是玩单人玩家模式,还是为了资源和排名而攻击其他玩家;这是我们能在游戏的部落模式中所体验到的。

说实话,我从未觉得这些内容非常有趣,我更愿意作为部落中其他玩家的军队提供者。

我并不是在高度赞美这款游戏。在《Clash of Clans》中最让我“激动”的时候是一些淌着鼻涕的小屁孩因为还没玩够而将我踢出部落。

计划好的作品

所以尽管我在后来加入了另外一个部落,但是我对于游戏的热情却也开始淡灭。

在有规律(至少是每隔几天玩一次)地玩了一年的游戏后,我来到了一个新的阶段,即需要花几天的时间才能完成任何升级。

同样地,现在我几乎不能收集到足够的资源去升级建筑,同时其他玩家还将不断地攻击我的基地,并偷走各种资源;因此我的唯一升级选择便是购买宝石。

price point(from deconstructoroffun)

price point(from deconstructoroffun)

最终通过分析,我计算出了在基地中升级所有内容需要花费多少成本。

基于游戏内部货币,最终答案便是我需要花1.037亿金币,4565万的万能药和1万黑油。

基于硬货币,这便等于要购买49225个宝石,也就是351.57美元,尽管这能帮助我在游戏中更上一层,但对于我来说却仍是一笔数目较大的费用。

学习

然而,时间和金钱还没被浪费掉。

作为一名新闻记者,我越来越清楚为了在一款免费游戏中做出明智的选择,你就需要投入时间和金钱。

的确,我从花钱玩《Clash of Clans》中得出的最重要的一大结论便是,任何称职的新闻记者都不能从开发者手中收取免费货币,这将破坏他们对于虚拟商品价值的认知——这是F2P业务模式的关键元素。

花更长时间去玩这些游戏并观察你们的游戏动机以及付费指标是否随着时间的变化而变化非常重要。当然了,体验开发者如何使用新内容和时间进行游戏更新从而留住玩家的心也非常重要。

所以在这种情形下,我是否应该将《Clash of Clans》从iPad中删除?

不要吧。或许我可以将其放到一个名为“我过去常常玩的游戏”的文件夹中,并不时打开玩下,尽管那时我的主要注意力是在其它地方。

而名为“游戏吧”的文件夹则包含了当下最有吸引力的游戏。

篇目6,揭秘《Clash of Clans》获得成功的5个关键因素

作者:Mike Rose

几个月以前,我参观了《Clash of Clans》的开发工作室Supercell,那时它靠仅仅两款游戏就迅速获利500万美元。

据Pando Daily报道,现在这个数字已经超过每天100万美元,而且谁知道这个数字还会不会再上涨。

之前,Supercell首席执行官Ilkka Paananen曾经在采访中谈论该公司的成功秘诀,但我真正感兴趣的是深入繁杂的开发过程,并直接与游戏设计师对话。

为此,我采访了《Clash of Clans》制作主管Lasse Louhento。他认为这款游戏的创意和开发过程在五个方面有所结合。

1、休闲硬核,双管齐下

与现在的外观相比,《Clash of Clans》一开始的风格更偏向卡通和休闲。事实上,这款游戏的视觉效果经过了无数次变更才最终确定下来。

Louhento解释道:“我们觉得,硬核玩家可能会不喜欢它,觉得太幼稚了。所以我们必须找一个平衡点,既吸引硬核玩家,又不疏远休闲玩家——不黑暗不邪恶不写实,但也不能吵吵闹闹。”

Louhento承认:“我们确实费了一些时间,那不是简单的任务呀!”

团队最终确定下来的是混合风格——写实和“变形的和风”。该项目的主管补充道:“我是Pixar动画的大粉丝,他们的角色很吸引年轻的观众,但同时,成年人也很喜欢人。我们也超级喜欢日本游戏公司Capcom的角色——强大的美术,精美突出。”

这支五六人组成的团队,提出了不下10个不同的角色概念,但确定想要的概念后其他的都被丢弃了。在视觉画面上,将休闲与写实风格完美融合是吸引更大范围玩家的关键。

当然,不止是游戏的外观。休闲和硬核玩家对玩法的要求也不同,而将这两种玩法融为一体并非易事。

对于硬核玩家,《Clash of Clans》提供在线战斗元素。“我认为这款游戏带有竞技性质。游戏中有排行榜,会让玩家产生‘我想上榜’的感觉。我认为这样会使进程表现得更生动。”

对于不太喜欢互相进攻的玩家,游戏的休闲方面也足够他们游戏了。

他解释道:“游戏的休闲方面就是社交元素。你可以与游戏中的同伴聊天,赞助军队——这种归属感是相当强大的。一旦人们进入游戏世界,他们就会投入地玩上很长一段时间。”

2、尽早确定清楚的目标

Louhento回忆道:“在前一两个月,我们做了一个内部样本,所有员工都在公司里玩。我们编写好所有基本功能和所有角色行为的代码——不过,我记得好像只有野蛮人没做好。”

他补充道:“是个多人游戏,在一台服务器上运行。我们觉得非常棒。”

这是开发团队的福音——从一开始就有一款好玩的游戏。但那是因为他们很明确他们的目标是什么。

他承认:“一定程度上,这是个容易的项目。我们虽然是花了很多时间,但目标从一开始就是明确的。片段可能有所缺失,但结构始终是完整的。”

Louhento将这一切归结为公司的“平板第一”策略。“我们是为平板做这款游戏的——我们可以看到游戏如何展开,帧速是多少,我们在手势控制功能上做了很多工作。”

Louhento认为,当手机游戏开发没有体现易用性时,你是可以看出来的——“以《The Simpsons: Tapped Out》为例,这是一款很棒的游戏,但开发团队没有费功夫思考‘这个按钮够不够大?易用性达到要求了吗?达到最佳效果了吗?’”

“我们花了成百上千小时玩《Clash of Clans》,只是为了尽可能解决易用性问题。如果我们觉得不够好,那我们就重做——我们下定决心要把滚动和轻拍的响应做到最好。”

Louhento解释道,易用性也不是一个新想法。多年以来,消费者已经习惯于选择易用性最佳的产品。

“Google和Alta Vista这两种搜索引擎出现时,他们基本是相同的东西,但其中一个更简约,更清楚、响应更快。”

clash of clans 2(from gamasutra)

clash of clans 2(from gamasutra)

他继续说道:“我认为易用性是游戏的重要方面之一。我记得当我们第一次看到iPad游戏时,我们觉得帧速率太糟了,‘谁做得出这种UI?谁会玩这种游戏?’”

一款精美的游戏,除了美术上乘,还需要在其他方面下功夫。“如果界面和控制不是专为平板设计的——你可以轻易地看出它是移植产品。开发者们的想法是‘啊,我们PC游戏移植到iPad吧。’这样玩家就会觉得这款游戏很糟糕,所以我们决定采用完全不同的方式。”

3、指南不要做过头

直到最后一分钟开发团队才把指南放进《Clash of Clans》中。的确,游戏在苹果应用商店发布的前几周,指南的部分还没开工。

Louhento表示,虽然教玩家怎么玩游戏很重要,但是,整个行业都太强调游戏的指南了。

“我们不喜欢冗长又啰嗦的指南。我知道Zynga游戏中有很多他们称之为‘适应阶段’的东西,他们在这东西上花了很多时间和精力——甚至有一支专门研究相关指标的团队,他们的工作就是‘我们要让玩家点击这个地方,那里要放一个更大的按钮,我们要把‘X’按钮移到这个窗口等等无聊的事。”

“我们真的不想做这种无聊事。不过如果其他人喜欢做,那也很好。”

当然,当需要解释的新元素添加到游戏中时,原来的指南也应该升级,以便介绍新元素。正如Louhento所说的,“如果我们看到第一阶段的留存率还可以更高一点,我们就会改进,比如更改按钮的位置等。”

但项目的主管仍然认为,现在的社交游戏把太多时间和资金浪费在太过精细的指南上。

4、公司内部的良性竞争

《Clash of Clans》和《Hay Day》是由Supercell内部的两支不同团队开发的。这两支团队时常友好地打探对方的开发进度,或者最近在制作什么功能。

“我们与《Hay Day》的团队保持健康的竞争状态。我们跟他们说,‘我们的控制功能比你们的好多了’。每周五,我们都会跟对方说‘我们在一周内就完成这个部分了’。然后过了一周,《Hay Day》的团队就会说,‘提醒你们,我们才一周就搞定这么一大块代码了。’良性竞争确实是件有趣的事!”

正是这种良性竞争,不仅使《Clash of Clans》的开发过程高效,而且充满乐趣。

Louhento感慨道:“我已经做了20年的游戏了,但我从来没经历过样的开发过程,从来没有觉得做游戏能这么快乐。”

5、不要打击你的玩家

无论是《Clash of Clans》还是《Hay Day》,都是几周更新一次内容——新道具、新商品和新角色等等。

但这种更新可能非常棘手。新玩家可能被这么庞大的内容弄得不知所措,而老玩家可能觉得新内容破坏了游戏的平衡性。

clash of clans 3(from gamasutra)

clash of clans 3(from gamasutra)

Supercell的应对措施是,只对老玩家开放新内容,而对于新玩家,只是让他们慢慢地熟悉游戏,之后才让他们尝试新内容。

Louhento解释道:“进入《Clash of Clans》才一两周的玩家不会看到某些功能。之后他们熟悉操作后,我们就开放一小部分功能,逐步提高游戏难度。”

“我们不会在游戏的最开头部分浪费时间,我们知道怎么做才管用。”

补充新内容必须兼顾休闲和硬核两方面的平衡。“我们意识到我们不可以把游戏搞得太复杂,但又必须有足够的深度。从外部看,它是相当简单的,但深度藏在内部。”

至于如何保持《Clash of Clans》的平衡性,Supercell有一套系统保证任何新内容都不会破坏游戏的内部运作。

我们的自动测试模拟会连续运行上千次战斗,每次都让不同的战士对付随机规模的军队。测试完后,我们会查看数据的相关性,看游戏是否向哪个数据区域发生倾斜。

Louhento表示:“当然,玩家可能想出一些骗术,但这种模似能够发现大多数可能毁坏游戏的不平衡因素。”

篇目7,分析《Clash of Clans》游戏设计的粘性

作者:Kevin Oke

到现在为止,Supercell的《Clash of Clans》(以下简称COC)已经称霸iOS应用商店总收益排行榜好几个月了。在玩这款游戏的过程中(渐渐上瘾),我终于知道这款游戏为什么能够套牢玩家了。

有意义的休战期机制

将对战作为强制循环的一部分的游戏往往不能处理好玩家的休战期。准确地说,让玩家在休战期内保持沉浸感是非常重要的,因为大多数吸引人的玩法和核心机制都与产生休战期的对战机制紧密相关。在城市经营类游戏中,玩家在休战期通常只能重新组织他们的城市——总地来说,这是肤浅的玩法。

Downtime(from insidemobileapps)

Downtime(from insidemobileapps)

本质上,COC是不同的。玩家部落的组织不仅关乎成败,而且在搬金币和大炮的休战期也可能产生直接的微交易。

给那些没玩过COC的人科普一下:你的建筑、城墙、陷阱和武器的布局是关键,因为你必须防御其他玩家的进攻。快速做好防御工事成为COC玩家的主要工作,因为要保护金库和能量库。玩家可以使用游戏的回放功能(之后再说)查看自己在游戏过程中的得失,以便下次调整布局、补缺补漏。

总之,这是一个很棒的休战期机制。为什么?

1、有实用价值

2、延长玩家的游戏时间(20级的玩家很可能要花半小时休整全部防御工事)

3、刺激消费——“如果升级大炮,只要两个就可以守住部落的南面了。但我没有那么多金币……但如果我不升级,我就太弱了。”玩家就是怀着这样纠结的心理开始消费的。

4、玩家的要塞布局具有个人风格。这更能吸引玩家长期游戏。

如你所见,这不仅是一段良好的休战期,而且是一种出色的玩法机制。

循环优化

循环优化使玩家能够在游戏过程中不断发现和开发技巧。在社交游戏中,比如《Farmville》,要求玩家在最佳金币/经验消耗率下种植种子;在竞技游戏中,为了延长玩家在游戏中的沉浸感,往往使玩家很难彻底掌握游戏,从而刺激玩家挑战极限;社交游戏则鼓励玩家每天多上线。

COC中的循环优化主要靠资源收集和进攻。玩家为了最高效地得到金币和能量,必须在建筑的资源生产能力达到最大时返回游戏收集。时间是关键,这就好比打开水龙头,让水桶接水自己走人,回来后发现水都溢出来了——资源浪费了。虽然这不是COC的独有的特点,但对玩家来说,每天尽可能多次上线仍然是很重要的。

更加有趣的循环优化在于PVP和进攻的威胁。囤积了大量金币和能量的玩家最容易成为别人的进攻目标。这就刺激了玩家经常上线,并做以下两件事:

1、从资源生产器中收集新产生的资源,然后存进仓库;如果玩家够聪明的话,仓库应该建在防御工事后面。

2、立即收集和使用资源。

Loop-optimization(from insidemobileapps)

Loop-optimization(from insidemobileapps)

因为在给定的时间内(根据城镇中心的等级),玩家只能建造一定数量的防制工事,但总是不够保护所有建筑。

因此,玩家不得不经常上线,消费或将金币和能量转移到比较安全的仓库中——把仓库建在城墙后面、靠近防御塔和大炮的地方,这是常见策略;可以把金矿和农民留在外面,因为他们身上能放的东西很少,就算被打劫了损失也不大。

这意味着为了升级而囤积资源其实是一件很冒险的事。囤积使用的时间越多,如果玩家被攻击,资源损失就越大、浪费的时间就越多。玩家意识到这种风险后,花钱的可能性就更大了。Supercell设计了一种保护功能,在玩家囤积资源时可以保护玩家不被攻击。或者,玩家也可以用真钱购买解决相应问题的道具。

回放功能

更新后的COC添加了回放功能。这个功能很不错,一旦玩家找到防御工事的薄弱点,也就知道自己为什么会失守了,进而花更多时间和钱来完善防御工事。一定程度上,回放功能发挥了指导作用。

Replay(from insidemobileapps)

Replay(from insidemobileapps)

消息提示策略

COC的消息提示非常实用,一方面能吸引玩家返回游戏,另一方面它本身并不无聊。当消息提示告诉玩家他们的部落被进攻了,玩家自然会上线游戏并花钱调整防御工事。当消息提示告诉玩家资源被偷时,心急的玩家不得不花钱赶上别人的进度。

消息提示在实用和简约上达到平衡,甚至让玩家不忍心关掉它。我认为开发者采用这种克制的方法是因为PVP进攻发生时,消息提示的信息是很实在的,如果显示太多东西,反而会招人厌烦。

结论

COC除了让Supercell大赚一笔(游戏邦注:据报道,该公司仅靠两款iOS游戏,日收益就接近100万美元),确实是一款很吸引人的游戏,因为它具有相当严密的游戏循环和经济系统,值得所有设计师学习。尽管它仍然缺少具有凝聚力的社交体验,但即便是免费游戏的最激进反对者也能看到开发者制作这款游戏的用心与诚意。

篇目1篇目2篇目3篇目4篇目5篇目6篇目7(本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao)

篇目1,Playing with paying: How Clash of Clans makes a game out of monetisation

Anna Marsh

Anna Marsh is design director at Lady Shotgun Games, a co-operative of freelance game developers.

Its easy to think on Twitter that free to play is one of those things that you must either love or loathe – if you’re not for it you’re against it and vice versa.

Making a comment either way seems a sure fire way to trigger a heated debate.

Personally I’m ambivalent. I don’t think free to play is inherently evil, but at the same time, I’ve not (up till now) really enjoyed a F2P title for any length of time. In fact, I have far more paid than F2P games on my mobile devices.

However, over the last six months, Clash of Clans has begun to demonstrate to me how freemium can be really become part of the game design.

Cash of Clans

Clash of Clans is, of course, a fantastic game on many levels, and I reckon only a real stubborn F2P hater will find nothing to like about it.

There are many aspects I love about it – I like laying out my village trying to get a perfect, impregnable arrangement of defences. I like seeing my little warriors sitting round their camp fires. I like the minimum-communication-necessary multiplayer.

I like it so much that I’ve been playing for over six months and it’s become the only F2P game I’ve ever monetised – £2.99 to date, which is equal to the highest priced premium game I’ve bought on mobile and I’ve played it a heck of a lot more than that title.

I may even put another £2.99 in someday.

Clash of Clans

Several commentators have already examined why Clash of Clans is a great game in depth.

The stand out thing for me as a game designer is how the premium currency works not just as a pay wall, but as a proper game system that intersects with, not disrupts, the other game mechanics.

Mixing it up

Game design boils down to having a collection of systems that overlap with each other to create an experience that yields predictable results, but analogue outcomes.

For example, in a shooter, the systems governing weapons, aiming, ammo, AI and environment come together to create a game where I can predict the range and direction I will fire in when I hit the trigger, but the actual result of shot – hit, fatal headshot, miss – is analogue collusion between all those systems at the moment I fired.

Therein lies the fun, depth and progression of a game.

With F2P games I’ve played previously, the premium currency options have appeared rather digital – pay, or don’t pay. In contrast, Clash of Clans’s use of premium currency (better known as gems) feels far more analogue.

Of course, I can directly pump gems into buying an item I don’t have the resources for or instantly completing a time-based task. Or I can simply wait – for free. But, there is also a third option, and that’s to combine the two.

The number of gems I need to put in to buy or complete an object goes down according to how much of the soft currency I have available or (in the case of time) have already put in.

Rather than pay 500 gems or wait eight hours, I can choose to wait six and a half hours and pay 150 gems. Or raise three quarters of the necessary gold and subsidise the rest of the price with gems.

Multiplayer madness

This gets more interesting when it interacts with the multiplayer system.

A player attacking you can always steal a certain portion of your resources, but if they are victorious your shield will activate automatically for a set time. Whilst your shield is active, your resources are quite safe.

Now, lets say whilst my shield is active my gold mines have raised 90 percent of the cost of an upgrade. When the shield deactivates, I can take a decision to subsidise the remaining 10 percent with gems, or wait and take the risk another player steaming in and nicking some of that gold I’ve just made.

Plus, since I can use gems to manually activate my shield, it may be more efficient to do that and let my gold and elixir mines do their thing for 24 hours than to put the gems directly into buying objects.

Then again, I can use just a few gems to boost my mines’ output which, if my shield has activated automatically, may be the best option. Or I can convert gems to resources. And all of this is dependent on how far I’ve levelled up the various parts of my village.

Different by design

The upshot, anyway, is that I have far more options with my premium currency than a simple pay or don’t pay choice, and the outcome of those options changes analogue to how the game’s other systems are affecting my game world at any particular time.

It all means that, yes, you can go in and mindlessly blast a load of premium currency willy nilly. But, with a little planning and skill, you can make a few gems go a very long way. The use of currency becomes a form of gameplay in itself.

Deciding how best to use my premium currency is something I enjoy in Clash of Clans – finding an especially efficient way of spending it to unlock an upgrade gives me the same kind of thrill as day trips to London when I make lots of journeys and get my money’s worth out of a one day Travelcard – and yes, okay, I am a cheapskate.

I don’t feel like I’ve somehow cheated or copped out of the “real” game by monetising (as I think many core gamers tend to feel about putting money into a F2P), but more like I’m spreading the cost of a game I enjoy over the time I’m playing it.

It is not perfect of course, but for me this is the game which has really started to put that often lofty sounding promise of freemium – a business model that removes barriers for new players and lets fans enhance their game by monetisation – into practise.

篇目2,Supercell’s chief wants every game to be as good as Clash of Clans (interview part one)

By Dean Takahashi

HELSINKI — Ilkka Paananen and most of his 130 employees at Supercell, the maker of the incredibly successful Clash of Clans mobile strategy game, are rich enough to retire. They just sold 51 percent of their Helsinki-based company to Japan’s SoftBank and GungHo Entertainment (the makers of the popular and lucrative Puzzles & Dragons puzzle-role-playing game) for $1.53 billion. That makes Supercell worth about $3 billion, or more than Zynga, the social gaming
giant with 2,200 employees.

But Supercell’s CEO says the company did that deal not as its end game but to secure stability for good and to set about its quest of “making history” in the entertainment business. He believes his job is to get the best people to make the best games and provide the best environment for them to work in. They work in “cells,” or teams of a half-dozen or so. They toil on games, kill off the bad ideas, and test the ones that are promising. By doing so, Paananen hopes Supercell will make a lasting impact on the game business in the same way that companies such as Disney and Nintendo have done — and in an environment in which more than 1.2 billion people play games.

Paananen met with a group of media attending the Slush conference in Helsinki. The company’s headquarters is on one of the upper floors of an abandoned Nokia research center, one of the ghosts of Finland’s tech economy. Now much of Finland’s game industry and its government investment programs have been inspired by Supercell’s success.

Here’s an edited transcript of our group interview with Paananen. The pictures in this story were taken at Supercell’s headquarters.

Question: Tell us how you work.

Ilkka Paananen: What keeps it all together is our unique culture. We’ve organized into these small, independent teams that we call cells. That’s where the name “Supercell” comes from. We believe that decision-making power about games should be as close to the player as possible. Therefore, the individual developer should be able to make decisions about their own work and whatever affects their players. If you do that, you can optimize for speed, and you create a sense of ownership among the people who work on the games.

We’re also very big believers in the concept of “small.” Small teams move quicker. There’s less management and bureaucracy and process. That results in happier developers and better games. Again, at Supercell, it’s really the team that owns the game.

As you know, in the games industry, companies usually go through a greenlight process. We don’t have one, because we don’t need one. At Supercell there are two entities that have control. One is the team itself. During development, the only entity that can kill a production is the team itself. Even I can’t do that. Then, once a team ships their game to a test market, power shift from the team to the players. At that point, they become very metrics- or data- centric. They have metrics a game has to reach in order to proceed to a global launch.

To put it simply, at Supercell, two entities have control. During development, it’s the team. After development, during the beta, it’s the players. It really is that simple. Everything unfolds from there. We’ve tried to create an environment of zero bureaucracy. Just super talented people. The role of management or leadership—First of all, we have very few of those people. But our main goal is just to create the environment and then stay out of the way so that people can focus on their work.

We’re also fully transparent as an organization. Every morning, an e-mail gets sent out to the entire organization – from trainees to the CEO – that has all the key performance indicators for each game. The same information is always available to everyone at the same time. We believe that if you provide people with the right information, you don’t need to tell them what to do. They can figure it out themselves.

Further, we really do celebrate failure. It’s not that we pretend that failing is fun. When we need to kill a game production–Imagine a group of five or six people who’ve worked day and night on a game for many months. Maybe the game just doesn’t fly. Maybe there’s a poor focus group result. Maybe the game goes to beta and users don’t like it for whatever reason. Of course it’s not fun when we have to kill a game at times like that. But what we think is worth
celebrating is the learning that comes out of that failure. When we have to kill a game, we always organize a party around it. The team gets up on stage and talks about what went well, what didn’t go well, what they learned. Then we hand them a bottle of champagne to celebrate what they’ve learned.

The fact is that, as a company, we’ve failed way more often than we’ve succeeded. Last year we killed at least five games. We launched only two. I fully expect that to be the case going forward. We’ll bring games out to beta and many of those games won’t fly. That’s the nature of the business. But we believe that if you don’t take those risks, you won’t get hit games either. If you want to do something innovative, you have to take risks. A natural outcome of taking risks is of course failure. This is what keeps the company together.

Question: What’s your mission?

Paananen: Our mission is to become the first truly global games company. For us, a truly global games company is one that has a hit game in the big western markets – in North America and Europe – and also in each of the big eastern markets – Japan, Korea, and China – at the same time. Our goal is to create games that somehow unite gamers all over the world. While we have a long way to go, there are some encouraging results I’d like to talk about today.

On iOS we have two games. Clash of Clans has been the number one game on the iPad top-grossing charts in 139 countries. Hay Day has been the same in 102 countries. With Clash, we got really excited about the Japanese market early this year. People thought that we were absolutely crazy. They said that Japan was just a big graveyard for western game companies. But we thought we’d give it a try. We’ve been quite happy with the results. At its peak, Clash made it
to three on the iPhone top-grossing charts, and it’s still in the top five or top six. It recently launched on Android and also made it to the top 10 – same with Hay Day.

People ask us, what’s the secret? I believe that it’s because we think quite differently about these games. A lot of companies bring their games out on a fire-and-forget type of model. Put the game out, it goes up, and after a few months it comes back down. Our games have stayed on top for more than a year now. Hay Day was launched globally in June of last year and it’s been in the top five ever since. Clash was launched in August last year and it’s still the number two game in the U.S. after Candy Crush. They have that staying power.

Why is that? The number one reason is that when we founded the company, from very early on our goal was to create games that people would play for years, not just for weeks or months. Lots of the creative people at Supercell have a background as developers or as consumers of MMO games. We play a lot of games like World of Warcraft or League of Legends. Those types of games have a very long shelf life. Our dream is to achieve something similar, but for the mass market and mobile platforms. Again, it’s early days, but we’re quite happy about the results.

It all comes from this mentality of thinking of a game as a service, rather than just a product. One of our explicit missions is that every single week, we want to make these games better for users. They always have to become better.

Question: Are you still in the lead?

Paananen: I haven’t seen the updates. I think in September we were number one, at least, but I can update you on those. But I’d assume so, because we’ve made some progress since then in Japan. But this is iOS only.

The other thing we’re quite excited about is the recent Android launch of Clash of Clans. Two things are encouraging for us. One is the reaction from players. We had more than a quarter million reviews, and the average was 4.7 out of five stars. It was a really good reception from the users. We were able to make it to the top 10 in two weeks, both in the U.S. and in Japan. Last I checked we were the number three game in the U.S. and I think number six in Japan on the Android top-grossing chart. Hay Day will follow a little bit later.

I’ll talk about the recent deal we did with Softbank and Gung Ho. Basically, how the deal was structured was that we established what’s known as a special purpose company here in Finland. That company is jointly owned by Softbank, which has 80 percent, and Gung Ho, which has 20 percent. That company owns 51 percent of Supercell’s shares. Both myself and Mikko Kodisoja, one of the founders of Supercell, sit on the board of directors of this company. So it’s not
a traditional — I wouldn’t characterize this an acquisition. It’s more of a kind of partner support, a strategic investment. As you know, they’ve paid roughly $1.5 billion for those shares, valuing the company at about $3 billion.

Question: Why did you do the deal?

Paananen: It boils down to four reasons. Most important, we feel that it’s still very early days for this company. We love what we’re doing and we want to continue to run Supercell as an independent company. This deal, more than anything, guarantees the independence of the company. A very large part of the deal is that the founders of the company still have voting control and decision-making power over the business. We can almost say that after this deal we’re more
independent than we were before, because the founders have substantial control over how we want to do things. We’ll continue to operate completely independently. All matters related to strategy, products, road maps, platforms, marketing, and all that are completely in the founders’ control. That was explicitly agreed upon with them.

This brings me to the second point. Before this deal, and before meeting the founders of Softbank — When people in the investment world talk about “long term,” they usually mean a period of five or 10 years. Then you talk to the founder of Softbank, Masayoshi Son. For him, the long-term is a 30-year plan and a 300-year vision. He’s completely different from any other business executive I’ve met, especially here in the west. These guys are all about the long term. If you compare their model to a typical venture capitalist, these guys could hold the stock of Supercell forever if they want to, and that’s exactly what they’re looking for.

Third, I talked about the dream of becoming the first truly global games company. Softbank obviously accelerates our path of progress toward that point. They have a strong presence in Japan, and also strong relationships in China and Korea. They recently bought Sprint in the U.S. and are becoming more active globally. It’s not a short-term thing. In the mid- to long-term, we believe there are benefits to be had from having them as a shareholder.

Fourth, what we share as a philosophy with Mr. Son is that we both think that life, and business life, isn’t a zero-sum game. We’re both about this ideology that we’re all in this together, and so it’s fair that all the economic value created by the company is shared by everybody who’s involved, including all the employees. That’s been proven by Supercell all along. This deal was another example. For us, it’s important that everybody with a share of the company is able to participate on exactly the same terms. Whether you’re a partner or one of the founders or an employee, the terms are the same. Going forward, we’ll pay dividends and so on. Every single employee has stock options, and they’ll be included in dividend payments. That’s a strong part of the culture of Supercell, and it’s great to see that Softbank shares many of the same ideas.

Question: What is the long-term view?

Paananen: We fundamentally believe that we are in a new era in gaming. It has to do with a few things. One is that gaming as a mass market phenomenon is heading to mobile and tablets. There’s going to be a place for the next-generation consoles, and again it’s not a zero-sum game – just because mobile is doing well, that doesn’t mean consoles should be doing badly. But we believe that this device is the superior device for the mass-market consumption of
entertainment. We believe that the free-to-play model, when it comes to the mass-market consumer, is the winning model. We believe that these games are becoming services. It’s not just something you launch and then move on to the next thing. You launch and then the real work begins. We believe we can create game services that will last for years, if not decades. And we believe that we can create games that have a truly global appeal.

Those are the fundamental drivers that we believe are changing this industry. On the back of those changes, we believe it’s possible to create a new kind of game company. Our goal is to create a company that is loved by its employees and also by players in the decades to come. What we’d like to create here is something that, say, 20, 40, 50 years go by, and then you can look back and think about Supercell. At that point, Supercell would really mean something. Think about Nintendo. It would be hard to find somebody who wouldn’t love the characters and the brands and the games that they’ve created. I would love to feel the same way about Supercell in 30, 40 years.

We would love to be part of the history of games, to create a company that changes how we think about gaming. But that obviously takes time. You can’t do that in a year or five years or probably even 10 years. That’s the single biggest reason that we wanted to do this deal. We wanted to make sure that we have a partner that shares our vision, but more than anything, has the patience to wait. If you want to try to do something like this, the most important asset you’ll need is time.

Question: I wonder how you feel about all these contradictions here. You raise money, but you don’t need it. You have teams that are structured to be really small and fast, but you make games really slowly. You can share the wealth with all your employees, but then maybe they’re more likely to leave and start their own companies. There are all these very strange things that come from having so much success.

Paananen: It’s part of how we think a little bit differently from many other companies. We get that question a lot. People ask me and the others, “Why do you guys get up in the morning? You don’t really need to work for money anymore.” My answer has always been, and still is, that I’ve never worked for money. None of us have ever worked for money. That’s the strange thing. Since we became successful, all people want to talk about how much revenue we made yesterday. That’s become a topic in itself – what’s the daily revenue at Supercell? It’s awkward for us, because we’ve never made these games to make money. We’re passionate about games overall. We just want to make fun, great games.

So my answer to that would be, since we’ve never made games for money, I don’t see things changing in that way. Along the same lines, we want to make Supercell the best possible environment to make games. This is our number one goal as a company. That’s the idea that the company was founded upon. Why would anybody want to go and set up their own companies? If at some point we’re not the best possible environment to make games, of course they should leave
and set up their own companies. But as I say, that’s a very big part of how we think. We want to be the best environment for the best people.

Question: Do you think that Finland is the best place to look for workers?

Paananen: I do. It’s important to us — We explicitly agree about that with Softbank, and with our shareholders as well, that the company will continue to be headquartered in Finland. This is our home. Having said that, we have people who have come from 30 different countries. Roughly half of our employees are Finns and the other half come from somewhere else. It’s a very diverse group.

Having this kind of multicultural environment makes working a lot more fun. But it also has a clear business benefit. If you’re trying to be a truly global games company, it helps that you have your own mini-globe in the office. No matter what market we’re talking about, we have someone who comes from that country who can walk to my desk and have a chat about something.

Question: You primarily launch games on iOS and then on Android. Do you think that model is going to change as Android’s market share grows, or are you still going to be focused on Apple first?

Paananen: For the foreseeable future, that’s going to be the model we follow. The one thing that all of us have learned the hard way in this industry is to never say never, but right now that feels like the right approach.

Question: Is that because the ecosystem is better, or is it because you earn more money from iOS users than Android users?

Paananen: I think it’s a combination of all of tose things. We have less fragmentation on the iOS platform. And yes, it’s not a secret, but in terms of revenue the market is slightly bigger on that side. But as I said, that’s been the approach so far. It’s something we’ll continue to think about as far as

Question: It looks like Angry Birds has hit a peak and has sort of gone down on the top-grossing lists. How do you deal with that possibility in the future?Paananen: It comes down to the philosophy of how we design good games. As I say, our goal is to design games that people will play for years. We’ve had our games on top for, in the case of Hay Day, almost 18 months. We don’t see any signs of slowdown. But again, it’s the games industry. It’s extremely hard to

predict. We’re humble enough to realize that it could happen to us. But the only thing that we can do—We don’t worry about it too much. The only thing we try to focus on is making sure that these games become better and better for our players, every single week, by releasing updates and new content and listening to the users. We’re going to do that as best we can. That’s all we can d.

But I do think that games like ours are part of this new culture of gaming. Games have almost become part of your everyday life. Lots of our players say that in Hay Day, they check their farm before they eat breakfast, and then it’s the last thing they do before they go to sleep. These games have become part of their everyday routine. Our average player plays nine times a day, in both games. That’s an average. Active players play tens of times a day. These games
are almost like Facebook, a service you check in on many times per day. They become part of your life. As long as we can keep these games a relevant part of our players’ lives, they’ll have a long lifespan.

The other thing that makes people come back to these games is the social nature of the games. We’ve noticed this best in Clash of Clans. The number one reason people come back to the game isn’t the game itself. It’s the other people they’ve met through the game. It’s a strange thing, but the other players draw you back into the game.

Because of these two things – how people consume these games and how we’ve designed them, and more than anything, how they’re so social – those are the reasons we continue to believe they’ll have a lifespan of years and years.

Question: Why did you make a multinational and multicultural work force a priority?

Paananen: For two reasons. One, it’s so much more fun to work in an environment like that, with people from different kinds of backgrounds. Two, it makes a lot of business sense. When you’re trying to develop games for a global market, it’s incredibly helpful to have people from different cultures who can give feedback on the games. When you localize the games you can talk about everything. It makes a lot of sense.

Question: How much do you earn from each player of, say, Clash of Clans, on average?

Paananen: We don’t actually disclose that type of revenue KPI. For us, as I say, and every other free-to-play game, the vast majority of players play for free. There’s a small group who decide to pay for games. That’s a beautiful model, because if it’s done right, it’s a win-win for everyone. The people who don’t want to pay don’t have to, yet they can access and play very high-quality games for free. And then of course the people who want to pay can choose how much they pay. If it’s done right we believe the free-to-play model is the winning model, both from a developer’s perspective and from the consumer’s perspective.

What’s so important when you design for that model—I’m sure you’ve heard about the concept of play-to-win. That’s the one thing that you want to avoid. The key thing about free-to-play games is that they have to be fair. It must be possible to play the game without ever paying. That’s one thing we’re very proud of. In both of our games, there are quite a few users who haven’t paid a dime, and yet they’ve been quite successful.

Question: In Asia, it seems like this “pay to take a turn” model is quite popular. Do you have to make entirely different games for different markets?

Paananen: That’s what some people have suggested. We would be foolish to start changing our games for a local market. No matter how much we change them, they’ll never be as good as the local games. So we think of it the other way. We didn’t change anything beyond localizing the game. This is our game, what defines our game, the soul of our game. If you start to change the soul of a game, it won’t be good in anybody’s opinion. So we’ve kept the games intact
and just localized them. That’s definitely going to be approach we’ll follow, in line with our vision of becoming a truly global games company.

HELSINKI — Housed in an abandoned Nokia research building, Supercell’s headquarters is a lesson in itself. The Finnish company has become rich off its Clash of Clans and Hay Day mobile games. It sold 51 percent of its Helsinki-based company to Japan’s SoftBank and GungHo Entertainment for $1.53 billion. That makes Supercell worth about $3 billion, or more than Zynga, the social gaming giant with 2,200 employees.

The deal was one of the most interesting in gaming history. But all glory is fleeting, as World War II general George Patton once said. What guarantee does SoftBank have that Supercell’s next game will be a hit? We caught up with Ilkka Paananen, the chief executive of Supercell, with a media group attending the Slush conference in Helsinki.

Paananen says the company did that deal not as its end game but to secure stability for good and to set about its quest of “making history” in the entertainment business. Paananen hopes Supercell will make a lasting impact on the game business in the same way that companies such as Disney and Nintendo have done – and in an environment in which more than 1.2 billion people play games.

Here’s an edited transcript of our group interview with Paananen. The pictures are from a tour of Supercell’s headquarters, and we’ve included a photo gallery at the end.

Question: When we can expect the next game from Supercell?

Paananen: [Laughs] When it’s ready. At Supercell the teams have control. One of the things we believe is that it makes sense to test a game as early as possible. You might have read that we’re testing a certain game right now in the Canadian App Store, Boom Beach. Our model works, as I said, that it’s up to the teams, and then it’s up to the players. In the case of Boom Beach, if the players like it, we’ll launch it globally. If they don’t, we’ll kill it. It’s that simple. There are other teams working on other games, and the same rules apply. At some point those teams will launch something to beta. If it
works, great. They’ll proceed to a global launch. If it doesn’t work they’ll kill it and move on to the next thing.

Question: Are you a serial entrepreneur? How many companies have you worked with?

Paananen: I guess I could call myself that. A few of my friends and I founded our first games company back in 2000. The company was called Sumea. Then we grew to about 40 people and sold to a company called Digital Chocolate in 2004. I worked almost six years as the president of Digital Chocolate, and left in early 2010. I took a few months off and then was lucky enough to be one of the founders of Supercell a bit later on.

Question: What were the most important things you learned, going from company to company and environment to environment?

Paananen: The number one thing was that it’s all about the talent. It’s all about the creative talent. Unless you have the best talent—That’s all that counts. If you have the best talent, sooner or later the best games will follow.

The other thing I learned is to try to minimize the bureaucracy in the process. A lot of companies have these game review meetings, where teams bring their games in front of a committee that gives them feedback. It takes a lot of time. In the nightmare scenario the team spends more time pitching for the committee and preparing for the pitch than they spend on the game. There’s none of that at Supercell. That’s why even I can’t go kill a game. One of my explicit goals is to make myself the least powerful CEO in the world. I see my role and the role of the management is as an enabler so the best people can focus on their work. We try to create the best possible environment for them.

Games is a people business and only a people business. That’s the number one learning I found. The number two learning was the value of small, of keeping
things simple. We’re still a very small company compared to many of our competitors, and we want to keep it that way. Working at a smaller company is just a lot more fun. When working is more fun you make better games. It’s as simple as that. As a side benefit, when you’re small you don’t need the layers of management and bureaucracy and process that everybody hates.

Question: What’s your optimal team size? What sort of planning and management do you use around each of those teams and the games they’re working on?

Paananen: Clash of Clans was developed from the start by five people. We try to keep the new game teams as small as possible – anywhere from five to perhaps seven or eight people per team. The live game teams, because we’re serving millions of users every day, for practical purposes they need to be bigger. But even then the size stays between about 10 and 15.

Question: Is the Finnish economic environment friendly to startups?

Paananen: Yes, very. We have a great ecosystem for startups here these days. It’s easy to set up a company. We have a very competitive corporate tax rate. Starting from next year it’s going to be only 20 percent. It’s one of the lowest in Europe. It’s super competitive from that perspective. It’s easy to get people from abroad to move here. The bureaucracy is very low in that respect. And the environment is a very safe environment to live in. We have the best school system in the world. Finland has been on the top of those studies for the last couple of years. There are a lot of benefits on that side.

One huge benefit is the public funding that we get from the government. How we started Supercell is that we formed a group and invested a few hundred thousand euros from the six of us into the company. Then we got a loan from the government for 400,000 euros or so. Without that loan, Supercell probably wouldn’t exist. They give these types of loans to entrepreneurs. Even if you fail, you don’t need to file personal bankruptcy. It’s a great model. On top
of those loans, later on you get subsidies. We’ve gotten a couple of million in subsidies along the way, which have been quite helpful. It’s also quite easy to raise money from abroad into Finland. Leading venture capitalists like Accel, Index, Atomico, and others have invested in Finland.

One of the personal reasons I have, outside of Supercell, I truly believe that one day the Helsinki area can become a gaming hub – the Silicon Valley of Europe, if you want to call it that. A lot of other areas are trying to do the same, like Berlin and London and others, but I do think we have a great environment. We have a shot at it, at least on the gaming side. There are a lot of great gaming companies here.

Question: You mentioned the subsidies that you got after the initial loan. Could you elaborate on how that works?

Paananen: Basically, the government, from its organizations, can give two types of funding. There are loans. They can fund us with up to 70 percent of the total cost of a project. Those loans, eventually you need to pay them back, but they have a very low interest rate – like one percent, and maybe you have to pay them back in five or seven years’ time.

Then you have these subsidies, which you don’t have to pay back. At best guess, they might subsidize 50 percent of whatever expenses you have. We also got that type of funding very early on.

Basically, if you think from an investor’s perspective, or a venture capitalist’s perspective, it’s a beautiful thing. Say that I’m a VC and I invest one million euros. In relation to that one million, I already know that the company will get an additional one million from the government. That’s non-diluting money, so it won’t dilute my ownership stake. The public funding makes Finland a really attractive investment landscape.

Q: I understand that this is very good for you, but I’m curious about what it means for the Finnish taxpayer. [Laughs]

Paananen: This year alone, Supercell—I think the founders and the company together are paying something like [€270 million] in taxes. They spent maybe five or six million on us early on. So I think it’s a good investment from the Finnish government’s perspective. Somebody calculated that Supercell alone returns every single penny that the government has ever invested in any startup combined. Just with the success of Supercell, we’re paying it all back and more.

This country needs to reinvent itself after the collapse of Nokia. We need new companies. It won’t be enough to just have Rovio and Supercell. We need more and more. Everybody here realizes that. It’s a long-term investment from the government’s point of view.

Question: What’s your view of the game industry as a whole? Are you hoping that it becomes much more like Supercell? Do you see the large publishers losing influence?

Paananen: I wish that, in the games industry overall, more power would shift to the creative people. When I grew up, I played games like the old LucasArts games, or SimCity, all these great games. They weren’t made by big teams. Teams were quite small then. They were limited by disc space and all that stuff, but still—Because you couldn’t really impress people with graphics, there was more focus on gameplay. They were just fun. There were all these legendary creative geniuses working on games at the time. I would love to see the industry going back to that golden age of games, where small teams full of creative energy and passion would have more control.

It feels like the marketing people took over. For some reason, games started to use movies as their role models. All of a sudden you had to make a massive investment in a game. It was all about the first week’s sales, exactly like in the movies. Companies tried to create huge buzz before a launch, exactly like in the movies. I’m not sure it’s the right model for games.

Question: What do you think is the key factor behind innovation, when you think about the development of new games?

Paananen: It comes down to two things. One, give all the power to your creative geniuses. Organize your company so that you put the creative people front and center. Give them all the freedom possible. And then give them the permission to fail. You have eliminate the fear of failure completely, because if you don ’t, those guys won’t take risks. Without risks, there’s no innovation. Without innovation, there’s no hit games. You need to create a friendly, warm environment for those creative folks.

Question: Is there a rule or any criteria for deciding what’s a success and what’s a failure?

Paananen: Yes, there is. Sometimes people misunderstand our culture. Some people think that this is just a culture where teams can do whatever they want and results don’t matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. Before the teams start to work on something, we do spend quite a bit of time with them to pre-define the metric goals that they need to reach when they go to beta. We’re really strict about those goals. If they don’t reach those goals, we’ll kill the game. That’s it.

I won’t specify those goals, but they mostly have to do with retention and engagement in the game. How many people come back after 30 days? How many times do they play per day? And so on. We define those very carefully. That’s the agreement between the team and the company. So long as the team reaches those goals, we’ll proceed to launch. If they don’t, we’ll kill it.

Because of the small size of the teams, Supercell can be a relatively high-pressure environment to work on games. It’s not for everyone. You need to be proactive and very passionate about games and what you do. If you’re not, you won’t do well here. But for the right kind of people, it seems to be quite a nice place to work.

Question: Some say work-life balance matters less now that we just accept that we have one big life. But what do you do to manage people who have families or need to work flexibly? Do you not like to see people at their desks at 10 at night?

Paananen: We absolutely don’t like to see people at their desks that late. If you come here at 5:30 p.m., you’ll see that the office is pretty much empty. I’m not kidding. We’re extremely flexible when it comes to hours. Again, we trust our people. We don’t tell them how much to work. We don’t track their hours. We don’t track them at all. We just trust them.

We have only one simple rule – do what’s best for the team and for the game. For some people that’s working certain hours at the office and then working certain hours at home. That’s fine. The only thing we care about is results. We don’t care about how many hours you invest.

The games industry has been guilty of burning out people. It’s almost the norm, that you have these crunch periods. Some teams can crunch for an entire year. First of all, it’s fundamentally the wrong thing to do. It ruins people’s lives. But I also don’t think it makes any sense from a business perspective. Who can be productive working 18-hour days for a year? You won’t be productive and creative. It just doesn’t make sense for the company. We believe in working normal work days. But when we come to work, we work really hard and very passionately.

If you want to make the best games in the world, it does require extra effort and extra hours too. But you compensate for that. You take time off. We try to be sensible about that. If you burn out all your people in three years, you won’t be able to make history. As I say, it takes decades to do that.

Question: Do you share some things in common with GungHo?

Paananen: The biggest thing we share is how we think about games overall. Those guys are running the most profitable game on the planet in Puzzle & Dragons. And yet you hardly hear them talk about monetization at all. They think that games should be about fun, and if you make fun games, you’ll figure out how to monetize them as well. That’s a big part of their philosophy. They respect the creative people, as far as I can tell.

In my opinion, they’re some of the best guys in the industry. It’s funny. We don’t even share the same language with most of them, but whenever we go out with those guys, we have loads of fun. There are some really surprising similarities between Finnish and Japanese culture that turn up. We take our shoes off when we go into somebody’s home. [Laughs] Both peoples seem to know how to have a good party. It goes to all sorts of things.

I just have a massive amount of respect for those guys. That’s why we’re so happy that they decided to partner with us. It meant a lot to us. Even if it’s only 20 percent, in terms of absolute sums it’s a significant amount of money that they put in.

Question: Do you think that Nokia’s demise was inevitable? Was that just a cyclical thing, or do you think it made some missteps?

Paananen: Well, I’m not a Nokia analyst or anything, but clearly there were some missteps. Saying anything else would be lying. Of course they missed a few really important trends. These guys really came on and killed them. So yeah, I think clearly there were missteps. But that’s part of the business life. This will sound funny, but eventually I think it will be—Especially with the latest deal with Microsoft, I think it’s going to be a very good fulfillment. As I said, it forces this country to reinvent itself. We can close that book, I hope, and start to work on some new stuff.

Question: The model that you talk about comes from your experiences in gaming, but do you think that this is something companies should be applying more widely to other industries?

Paananen: Maybe, but I don’t know, because I don’t have any experience with anything other than games. It’s dangerous to give advice, especially if you’ve been successful. [Laughs] It’s funny how success changes the way people look at you. I was talking about these same things at GDC two years ago. There were maybe 30 people listening to that talk, and I knew maybe 25 of them by name. [Laughter] Nobody was really interested. Yet it’s still the same story and the same culture and the same values. The only difference is that now we’re successful and before we weren’t.

I truly believe that this is the thing that’s made us a success, but that doesn’t mean that we could make somebody else a success. Everybody needs to figure out what’s the best model for their business. But as a general rule of thumb, this type of model gives a lot more ownership to the people who do real work. That must be beneficial in general.

篇目3,Game monetization design: Analysis of Clash of Clans

by Pete Koistila

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.

The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

Game experience: warning – playing may cause addiction

Once you start you can’t stop. That’s Clash of Clans. Right after the first launch of the game and in the middle of the tutorial sequence the attack of Goblins starts and you are sucked into to the game. There is no return back.

You will easily play Clash of Clans for many hours in a row without any breaks once you launch it for the first time. Game is heavily addictive and sticky factor is very high. You just keep on coming back over and over again. Let’s analyze why?

User interface is easy to get into, graphics are extremely stunning, sound FX and music live along the game experience and most of all you will not get bored easily as game has “depth”. Well-designed core loop, retention, monetization and social aspect mechanics support entertaining game experience. Let’s see how.

Core loop: clear and easy, just keep on progressing

Well-designed core loop rewards player for being active and promises progress for each return session. The core loop of the Clash of Clans seems to consist of three different actions:

By collecting the resources you get elixir and coins.

By building and training your troops you spend collected elixir and coins.

By battling you collect more elixir and coins. And you can affect your ranking.

Image: Core loop of Clash of Clans [1]

Retention: newbies, mid-range and elite-groups

Retention rate measures how effective are you at getting players to come back to your game. For example what percentage of the players who played your game in day one are still playing in day two. [2]

According to Ilkka Paananen from Supercell, the key indicators Supercell is tracking are 1, 7 and 30-day retention rates. Lasse Louhento from Supercell has revealed that for Clash of Clans the company breaks down the audience into three stages: newbies, mid-range and elite-groups. Each of the segments play the game different ways and have different retention rates. [3]

As you start to play the game for the first time you will notice the tutorial part just sucks you into the game and you keep on learning new things after another. And what is important, not all dependencies are available at the early phases of the game as those might confuse newbies too much. Improving the tutorial part has boosted the retention of the Clash of Clans [3].

Newbies is the stage, players have to successfully complete to become valuable and engaged members of the community.

Monetization: it’s all about psychology of consumer behaviour

Almost all of the details in Clash of Clans are designed towards monetization (e.g. regular troops trainings and building your village). You always have a place to spend more money. Monetization method is based on the need of speeding-up your game progress. More you play, more time you spend to get achievements done. Or you could cut the paths and spend real money instead to fasten your progress in the game.

In the beginning of the game you have decent amount of free gems (in-game currency, which can be bought with real money). After few hours of playing you finally run out of free gems, because you have spent all your gems to gold and elixir (two soft-currencies, which can be cheaply bought with gems). At this point your psychology about gems is already formed; gold and elixir are cheap and you have purchased those with gems. Now you need to get more gems and you would get those by purchasing via the same “Shop” where you spend all your free gems. The threshold to purchase first gems with real money is low. Clash of Clans is optimized for the first purchase with real-money.

When you want to check how much real money you need to spend to get gems another psychological trick is used: price is presented in real money only when you are about to purchase more gems. Otherwise you keep on spending two soft-currencies: gold and elixir.

One aspect of monetization is a competitive level of game play; some people are willing to spend whole lot of money to be better and faster than others. [4] One of the former top players of Clash of Clans, Jorge Yao, has reported to spend about 3000 USD into Clash of Clans in order to stay six months dominating the Top Players rank list [6].

These hard-core players (whales) are even treated with a special care in real life. Supercell has organized special events for paying players with free beer and snacks [5].

Average Revenue Per User Estimates (ARPU) is estimated to be 4,60 USD and daily revenue estimates vary from 750 000 USD to 5,15 million USD [7, 8, 10]. Monetization really seems to work.

Social aspect: will you be my clan mate?

New York Times reported about a former top player called Jorge Yao, who spent over six months on top of the Clash of Clans ranking list [6]. Jorge Yao gained virtual celebrity and became to social media star; he has gained over 30000 Facebook likes, almost 100000 Twitter followers and his Youtube interview has been watched over 400 000 times. How is this possible? How a single player of Clash of Clans could rise to social media star?

Clash of Clans has several social aspects in it: First of all, player is regularly guided towards creating own Clan to play with friends and recruit new members to your Clan. Clan mates help each other by sending reinforcement troops. You may challenge your friends via Game Center with your Apple ID or using your Facebook account to connect. Your Game Center friends appear when you are logged into Game Center.

Secondly Global & your Clan message board is always visible and in use. You are able share your messages with other players around the world or only with your Clan mates.

Thirdly ranking lists (Top Clans, Top Players) include the possibility to view top player profiles, visit their villages (imagine you could visit any village and see how number one top player’s village looks like – awesome!) and view clan profiles. You have a possibility to search any Clans. Clans have two different types: invite only or anyone can join. All these encourage you to play together. Join your troops with your allies. And remember what Louhento mentioned about dividing the player audience into three groups. One group was called elite-groups. This explains the popularity of Jorge Yao also. He was part of the invite only elite-group called North44 [6]. Anyone could have viewed his village and see his profile on Top Players list for months.

Also you have a possibility to play the game in a single player mode or multiplayer mode. If you choose to play the game in single mode, you still are encouraged to play together with others with all the previously listed features. You may anytime to switch from single player mode into multiplayer mode. This is encouraged with a visible Attack button. Logic is very smart: you may spend your real-money in a single player mode or multiplayer mode. And both modes are sticky and addictive!

Social aspect seems to work very well as Monthly Active Users (MAU) of Clash of Clans Facebook app has risen in one year from 1 million (in Q1/2013) to 7,3 million (in Q2/2014) MAU (Quarterly average). All Supercell’s games (including Clash of Clans, Hay Day, and Boom Beach) combined to have 29,4 million daily active users on February 7, 2014.

Figures won’t lie, social aspect, game experience, core loop, retention and monetization all work better than ever. Try it yourself and you are hooked. [7, 9, 10]

篇目4,Clash of Clans – the Winning Formula

I see a pattern here. First it was Hay Day, which is Supercell’s first poke at farming games and hands down the best farming game on iPhone and iPad. Now Clash of Clans is doing the same thing to the strategy games by outclassing genre veterans with ease.

What makes Clash of Clans a great game is the trademark Supercell winning formula approach to game development. First you take an existing social game theme. Then you benchmark and reverse engineer the best titles in that genre in order to create a strong and natural feeling core loop. You follow up by building a game around that solid core loop. Sprinkle a new and improved game play twist and dress it up in stunning graphics. Finally you polish the game to perfection with a limited beta launch by making the game available only in Canada. Once it’s polished and the KPIs look solid it’s time to come out with a bang and take app charts by storm.

But even though Clash of Clans is the best there is it’s still not the best there could be. Despite being extremely polished and reworked on the basis of the genre benchmarks Clash of Clans has plenty of room for improvements in some key game play mechanics as well as in the virality and even monetization features.

The Core Loop

There are three major parts in Clash of Clans’ core loop: Collecting Resources, Building & Training and Battling. Nevertheless not all of the parts of the core loop are equally important as the importance of each part is influenced by player’s ongoing goal in the game, which creates different style game play styles from resource gathering and building heavy to active battling.

Collecting Resources – beautiful use automated farming mechanics

Coins and Elixir are the two soft currencies in Clash of Clans. In order to produce Elixir and Coins player simply needs to have Elixir Collectors and Gold Mines. Resource production is automated meaning that player doesn’t have to initiate resource production nor wait till resource production has finished production. Also to be noted is that the resource production facilities have a maximum cap, meaning that they will keep on producing resource till specific amount after which they will stop production till player has collected the accumulated resource. To increase resource production maximum cap player needs to upgrade the resource facility.

User initiated farming mechanics vs. Automated farming mechanics

The resource production is perfectly done in Clash of Clans. Firstly it’s always rewarding to return to the game as you can harvest all of your resources at the start of every session. Secondly the automated farming mechanics encourage new players to visit the game more often as the resource facilities reach their max pretty quickly in their early stages.

Building & Training – everything is interdependent

Roughly put; everything that has to do with building consumes Coins while everything that has to do with troops consumes Elixir. This means that starting a construction, research or an upgrade takes either Coins or Elixir (never both) as well as time to finish the tas. Time taken to upgrade a building depends on the building’s current level, so that upgrading buildings is fast in the beginning and extremely slow on later levels. Same steep curve applies also to the price of upgrades.

Upgrading buildings is crucial for progress as player needs more and more resources to build bigger and better units. What’s genius about the upgrading flow is that everything is tied to one-another meaning that players can’t just keep on upgrading one specific building but instead have to upgrade everything.

For example take a look at the image below. To upgrade a Gold Mine player need Elixir while upgrading Elixir Collector requires Coins. This ties the resources together as upgrading one resource production facility takes always exponential amount of resources produced by the other resource facility. There’s always a specific maximum level for each of player’s building based on the level of their HQ. Upgrading HQ takes tremendous amount of Coins and in order to store those Coins player needs Coin Storages, which cost huge sums of Elixir… well, you get the point…

Everything is interdependent in Clash of Clans’ economy

Nevertheless the greatest building/progress restriction is the fact that player has only two builders. In other words player can simultaneously have only two building/upgradings at the same time. Overcoming this restriction takes only $5, which is the price of a third builder (I’m sure many of us have made that purchase). In case you want to have a fourth builder, well the price just went up to 10$. Talking about great use of price elasticity!

Battling – stop punishing the player

Training troops consumes Elixir and takes time. The better troops you produce the more Elixir it costs and the more time it will take to produce them. But time and Elixir are not the only ones restricting players from building the most massive army. Every better unit takes also more housing space, which creates demand for bigger Army Camps. Army Camps need to be upgraded, this takes resources, time and of course upgrades to the HQ… and you’re back in the devilish interdependent economy of Clash of Clans.

Units cost Elixir and time. Better units require more space

limiting the size of player’s army.

Here comes the sad part from player’s perspective: all the troops you use in a battle are consumed win or lose. So you face a situation where you build and army, attack and lose every single troop even if you won the battle by a landslide.

Sure from economy perspective consuming the whole player’s attacking force creates a great sink for Elixir but from retention point of view I really think battling should be reworked. Kabam’s Edgeworld does in my view the battles better as it allows player to retreat (raid other players) as well as to keep all the units who survive a won battle. Not only is this approach more user friendly but it also creates demand for super units, which player can take from one battle to another. And believe me, super units, in which players emotionally invest to, sell like pop corn in a movie theater.

The Progress

Solid retention in Clash of Clans is mainly due to the steady and visible progress players have in the game. Second key factor in the retention is the well extremely well designed core loop, which reward player for being active and promises progress for each return session. Finally it’s also about those notifications, as just when you think you won’t be coming back to the game any time soon, you’r iPhone and/or iPad informs you that the awesome building you forgot you were even building is ready now.

Clash of Clans has some great first time flow, as it creates emotional attachment to the game area aka. player’s village in a matter of 5 minutes. Game starts with Player entering her village, which is after a couple of dialogs attacked by goblins. Player defends the village with a cannon (learn defense) and launches a counter attack (learn battling). After the counter attack player gets back to the village and goes quickly through the core loop (build resource production, build barracks, train troops) till it’s time again to launch a second attack against the goblins. After the second attack the game slows down to normal progress speed and introduces the achievements (which work in the beginning as quests) to the player.

You start small…

But progressing is not only about getting more resources and upgrading your buildings and troops. Progressing is also a lot to due with the way you village transforms visually. The puny village of the first session will slowly but surely transform into a combination of Lord of the Rings and Warcraft.

…but you end up EPIC

What’s cool and new with Clash of Clans compared to similar games is the single player mission flow. Sure it’s super hard compared to the rewards you get for beating goblins and yes Edgeworld had also single player missions but the way they are presented on a separate map makes them just really compelling – till player engages in the player vs. player battles…

Players can choose whether they want to fight other players or AI (goblins).

The Virality

The ultimate goal in Clash of Clans is to beat other players and be a part of a winning clan. First few days player is protected from attacks from other players but once this shield is dropped you become free game. In other words after the shield is dropped your village will be destroyed between 1 – 3 times a day. Protective shield is re-activated for several hours after each lost defense.

There are two ways player can stay away from destruction (or so we are told). Firstly players need to build up their defenses, which defend the village automatically in asynchronous PvP battle. Walls, traps, cannons, watch towers, mortars – you name it! Secondly players need to join a clan by restoring the castle next to their village (awesome way to introduce clans!).

The broken clan castle is found on the game fiel. Great way to set up a long-term
goal and avoid overwhelming new players.

Once in a clan players can chat and in theory plan attacks or revenge in behalf of other clan members. In practice yes, you can chat and even donate some troop but you can’t coordinate attacks, simply because in Clash of Clans you can’t really choose who you will attack. You can only revenge to someone who once attacked you or you can just attack random opponents who’re close to your own experience level.

So what’s the point of being a member of a clan apart from getting few low quality reinforcement troop for your next attack? Well, if you’re a member in a powerful clan, you all get awarded. There are weekly tournaments and those who wreck the most combined damage get awarded. So yeah, clans are fun for few dozen of people but not for the vast majority of daily players. Plus it would be nice to even get a notification that a weekly clan tournament has been restarted.

Clans don’t really clash because you can’t yet attack other players from this

view nor co-ordinate attacks against chosen opponents.

Second issue is with friends. Players can sync up via Facebook, which enables them to see all of their playing friends. But after syncing up things fall flat. You can visit your friends or view their clans (and join them). You can’t attack your friends. You can’t message your friends. You can’t gift your friends nor can you request anything from them. Not to mention that you can’t even invite players who are not playing to start playing.

All these people I know and no way to communicate with them.

Third issue is the lack of World Map is a serious downfall as map creates true rivalries between players and rivalries fuse retention as well as monetization. For example in Kixeye’s Backyard Monsters you can see you neighboring players, attack them, conquer new territories onto which you can create outposts.

World Map in Kixeye’s Backyard Monsters

The Monetization

Clash if Clans has a whale based monetization because the prices increase as the game progresses creating a situation in which majority of players (retained users) pay higher prices than minority (new users). In short: ARPPU goes hand in hand with retention.

In Clash of Clans players pay for speeding time and boy there are a lot of waiting in the game. As described in the core loop chapter every action takes time from building to upgrading and from training to improving units.

Gems are used to instant finish what ever player is doing. And that’s where the catch is. In the beginning whatever you are doing takes little time, which not only is good for retention but it also encourages to instant complete production with the free Gems you have from the start. So in the beginning it’s pretty useful and cheap to progress fast and the free Gems you get for completing achievements just push you in that direction (+ first time flow forces player to use Gems so many times that it starts feeling right). But as the game progresses the production times increase. Pretty quickly you are waiting days for productions to be completed – and some players will continue paying (now tenfold) to skip the waiting.

Smallest price point is $4.99 creating gigantic ARPPU and ARPU.

Gems can also be converted into Coins or Elixir. I usually like to sell separately virtual and premium currencies as it encourages paying players to make several purchases. For example if resources were sold separately buying Gems would help the player to instant finish a production. Then the player would want to start a new construction right away, which would create demand for Coins or Elixir. Player would lack the soft currency because he just speeded up the production instead of waiting so not enough time has passed and the resource production facilities are empty. Of course players can instant finish resource productions but that doesn’t create re-buys in the same session – only increases consumption of Gems.

Also Clash of Clans still lacks power ups. Magnificent consumable weapons players can use to improve the success of their attacks (don’t underestimate players’ willingness to revenge the attacks on their villages). That would convert players who have progressed far but don’t find it compelling to pay $30 to speed up a single production.

The best there is, but…

Clash of Clans is an amazing game. Supercell has thoroughly gone through all the benchmarks in the genre and created a game, which simply outclasses genre veterans such as Kabam and Kixeye. What’s even more impressive is that this is Supercell’s first poke at the whole strategy genre.

Clash of Clans is a combination of well balanced core loop, extremely compelling graphics and super smooth gameplay. What makes the game top grossing is the combination of very solid retention and whale economy, where retaining users end up making higher average purchases due to rising costs.

But even though Clash of Clans is the best there is there’s still room for significant improvements in game play (battle mode), virality (world map, interaction with friends) and even monetization. Now the question is whether there will be someone else who comes up with improved version of Clash of Clans or will Supercell continue it’s dominance with future updates. I believe in the later one, because Supercell has shown that they have the patience to perfect their games. They’re not moved by financial quarters and their deadlines seem to be tied to the quality of the product instead of a random date set in executives’ mind. I believe that Supercell has the winning formula to make great social games.

篇目5,Opinion: I’ve played Clash of Clans more than any other game, but now it’s time to log off

by Jon Jordan

As with everything in life, there are beginnings and there are endings.

Some can be excited and unexpected, while others are best when planned and measured.

That’s what I’m thinking a year on from when I first started playing Supercell’s Clash of Clans.

At the time, I didn’t know much about the game, and certainly during the Canada-only beta in August 2012, no one expected it to have the commercial and cultural impact it’s since generated as one of the most played and profitable games in history.

Equally, on a personal level, I’ve never spent so long playing a game, or indeed, spent so much money in a game.

Slippery slope

So let’s get the money bit out of the way.

As with many players, my first purchase in Clash of Clans was the 3,000 gems required to buy an additional builder: a hard gate designed into the game during the early stages (around one month in for me) when you have a relative large amount of resources but are restricted by your lack of builders in terms of how quickly you can spend them.

In total, though, I’ve spent over $70, buying currency to speed up buildings and buy defences that provided significant new features.

Yet, as must be the case with such resource-based games, there’s only ever a brief plateau of satisfaction before another new unit or building update makes itself known to our envious brain.

This is most clearly seen in the update cycle surrounding your town hall, which is the core building that controls the levelling up process for your key resources – notably gold and elixir mining.

It’s the most expensive building to level up, but once you’ve completed this, all that’s happened is you’ve opened another layer of increasingly expensive upgrades, which quickly overwhelm the higher capacity resource production you’ve also unlocked.

Infrastructure costs

Of course, the city-building aspect of Clash of Clans is not the game itself.

It’s merely the foundation on which you build your armies, either to play the single-player (effectively the practice) mode, or attack other players for resources and ranking; an element most fully experienced in the game’s Clans mode.

To be honest, though, this was something I never found very exciting; preferring instead to act as a supplier of troops for the other players in my clan.

My base – not too good, not too bad

Not that I got much praise for it. The most ‘exciting’ thing that happened in terms of my clan-play in Clash of Clans was when some (no doubt) snotty-nosed imp kicked me out of the clan for not playing enough.

The very cheek of it!

Calculated swansong

So, even though I joined another clan, from that point on, my enthusiasm for the game was waning.

After a year of fairly regular play (at least once every couple of days), I was at the stage when any upgrade took days to complete.

Also, it was now almost impossible to organically collect enough resources to upgrade a building as, in the meantime, someone would attack my base and steal most of them; hence the only upgrade option available being to buy gems.

So, being of the analytic persuasion, I worked out how much it would ‘cost’ to upgrade everything in my base to its next level.

In in-game currency terms, the answers was 103.7 million gold, 45.65 million elixir and 10,000 dark elixir.

In hard currency terms that’s 49,225 gems, which converts to $351.57; despite my relatively advanced in-game level, for me that was a surprisingly large number.

Learnings

Yet, time and money has not been wasted.

As a journalist, it’s become clear to me that in order to have an informed opinion on free-to-play games, you have to spend time and money actually playing them.

Indeed, one of my most important conclusions from p(l)aying Clash of Clans is that any journalist worth their salt should not be expensing back their in-app purchases (or receiving free currency from the developer) as it totally destroys your perception of the value of virtual goods – the key aspect of the F2P business model.

It’s also important to play some of these games for long periods of time to see how your motivations to play and pay rise and fall over the months. And, of course, to experience how developers update their games with new content and time-dependent offers to keep their long term audience interested.

So, in that context, will I be deleting Clash of Clans from my iPad?

Not quite. It’s going into a new folder called ‘Games I Used to Play’. I might dip back into it every so often, but my attention is demanded elsewhere.

The folder marked ‘To Play’ is now filled to bursting.

篇目6,lash of Clans’ 5 keys to success

By Mike Rose

When I visited Clash of Clans studio Supercell a couple of months ago, the company was raking in $500,000 a day from just two titles.

Now that figure is more than $1 million a day, according to a report from Pando Daily — and who knows if it’ll stop there.

I previously talked to Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen about the company’s success, but what I was really interested in was delving into the nitty gritty, and questioning the game designers directly.

To this end, I discussed the development of Clash of Clans with its product lead Lasse Louhento. Here, he describes five ways in which Clash’s creation and ongoing development were brought together.

1. Bring in both the casual and the hardcore players

Clash of Clans originally had a much more cartoony and casual look than its current form — in fact, the game went through numerous visual alterations before the final look was settled on.

“We had this notion that maybe the hardcore players would actually dislike this, and think it was too childish,” explains Louhento. “So we had to find a sweet spot, such that it wouldn’t alienate the casual players – nothing dark and black and evil and realistic – but on the other hand, it couldn’t be too blubby.”

This wasn’t a quick chop and change, admits Louhento. “It took us a while – it wasn’t an easy task!” he says.

What the team eventually settled on was a mixture of realism, and a “super-deformed, Japanese style,” adds the project lead. “I’m a huge fan of Pixar, and their characters are appealing to a younger audience, but at the same time, they’re cool for adults too. We’re also big fans of Capcom characters – strong character art that’s really polished.”

Within the team of 5-6 people, more than 10 different character concepts were brought forward and abandoned before they found exactly what they were looking for. Discovering that perfect mixture of both casual and realism in the visuals was key to pulling in a wide range of players.

It’s not just the visuals, of course. Casual and hardcore players want different types of gameplay, and attempting to mix these together can be tricky.

For the hardcore, Clash of Clans offers online battling elements. “I think there’s something about the competitive nature of the game,” says Louhento. “We have leaderboards, we have that kind of edge where people think ‘Oh I want to be there, so I’ll need to upgrade this.’ The progression, I think, is more visual.”

And for those players who aren’t so into attacking each other, there’s enough to keep them entertained on the side.

“It’s the social elements too,” he reasons. “You can chat to clan mates, and donate troops – that feeling of belonging together is really powerful. Once people get into a clan, they are really invested and willing to play for a long time.”

2. Have a clear goal from early on

“For the first two months, we did a company-wide demo, and everybody played inside Supercell,” says Louhento. “We coded all the basic functionality, all the character behavior – I think we only had the Barbarian character back then though.”

He adds, “It was multiplayer, running on a server. And it felt really good.”

This was a bit of a blessing for the team — to have a game that felt good to play from the get-go — but it really all came down to knowing exactly what their goal was from the very beginning.

“It was an easy project in a way,” he admits. “Obviously we put hours and hours into it, but the goal was pretty clear from early on. There were pieces missing, but the structure was there.”

And Louhento puts a lot of this down to the company’s tablet-first strategy. “We make these games for tablets – we can see how things are scrolling, we think about the framerate, and we’ve done a lot of work on the gesture controls.”

Louhento believes that you can tell when a mobile game hasn’t really been developed with usability in mind. “Take The Simpsons: Tapped Out, for example,” he says. “It’s a great game, but they didn’t really put in the effort to think ‘Is this button big enough? Is the usability good? Is this really optimal?’”

“We all played hundreds and thousands of hours of Clash of Clans, just to try to iron out everything. If it didn’t feel right, let’s do it again – let’s really make the scrolling and tapping work best,” he adds.

And this isn’t an new idea either. The public has been choosing the products with the best usability options for many years now, reasons Louhento.

“When Google and Alta Vista came out, they were basically the same thing, but one was a bit more minimalistic, a bit more clear, it performed quicker,” he notes.

He continues, “I think that’s a big part of it – usability. I remember when we were first looking at iPad games, and there were horrible framerates. We said, ‘How can anyone create this UI? Has anyone actually played this game?’

There was plenty of gorgeous artwork and clearly huge amounts of effort put in to make games look great, he says, “but the interfaces and controls weren’t done for tablets – you could easily see that it was a port. You could see the developers who had said ‘Oh, let’s port our PC game for iPad’. And it just felt sucky, so we wanted to make a completely different approach.”

3) Don’t overdo the tutorial

You may or may not be able to tell, but the tutorial for Clash of Clans was added at the very last minute. Indeed, just weeks before the game was launched onto the App Store, no work had been started on the tutorial at all.

Says Louhento, while it is of course important to teach your players had to handle the game properly, there’s far too much emphasis put on tutorials elsewhere in the industry.

“We’re not big fans of long, overdone tutorials,” he says. “I know Zynga has a lot of what they called the ‘Onboarding Stage’, and they spend a lot of time and effort with it – there’s a whole Onboarding team, and they specialize in looking at the metrics, and deciding things like, ‘Let’s make them click here, let’s have a bigger button here, let’s remove the ‘x’ button in this window’ and all that sort of nasty stuff.”

“We really don’t want to do this nasty stuff,” he continues. “If people like what they see and feel comfortable with the environment, then great.”

Of course, as new elements are added to the game that need explaining, then the original tutorial will be updated to incorporate this. And, as Louhento adds, “If we see that the retention in the first phase could be a bit better, we play with it a bit – maybe that button is in a weird place, tweaks like that.”

But in general, the project lead believes that there’s way too much time and money splashed on teaching players every nook and cranny of social games.

4) Healthy competition is great for your company

Clash of Clans and Hay Day were developed by two different teams within Supercell, and the two groups would constantly have friendly digs at each other about how far they were through development, or the features they’d managed to implment most recently.

“We had this healthy competition with the Hay Day team,” Louhento explains. “We’d say ‘our controls feel better than yours’, and every Friday we’d say things to the other team like ‘we managed to build this in a week’.”

“Then next week the Hay Day team would say ‘by the way, we just did this big chunk of code in a week.’ So there was some great, healthy competition. Funny competition!” he adds.

This was a huge part of what made development on Clash of Clans not only of a high standard, but also enjoyable.

“I’ve been making games for 20 years,” Louhento says, “and I’ve never seen this kind of progress – and also joy from making games.”

5) Don’t overwhelm your players

Both Clash of Clans and Hay Day are updated every few weeks with new content — new items, new in-app purchases, new characters and the like.

But updates such as these can be tricky. New players can potentially become overwhelmed by hordes of content, while veteran players may feel like new content messes with the equilibrium of the game.

Supercell’s solution is to only make new content available to loyal players, and bring new players in more gradually before throwing everything into their boat.

“A player coming into Clash of Clans won’t see certain functionality for the first two weeks,” explains Louhento, “and then once they are familiar with the controls, then you can complicate the game a bit, by adding pieces to it.”

“We try not to mess around with the very beginning of the game, because we know it works,” he adds.

Adding new content must conform with the game’s balance between casual and hardcore too. “We’re aware of the fact that we can’t make it too complex, yet it has to have that hidden depth,” Louhento notes. “From the outside it looks relatively simple, but it has that hidden depth.”

And when it comes to keeping a complex game like Clash of Clans balanced, Supercell has a system in place that makes sure any new content doesn’t screw around with the inner workings.

An automated testing simulation runs thousands of battles one after the other, throwing in randomly sized armies with different soldier types each time, and then correlates the data to see whether they’re an obvious area in which the game can become skewed.

“There might be tricks that players figure out of course,” admits Louhento, but for the most part he says that this simulation stage catches all of the bad balancing that could potentially ruin the game.

篇目7,Guest Post: Clash of Clans engagement analysis

by Kevin Oke

Supercell’s Clash of Clans (CoC) has been a top grossing title on the iOS app store for months now, and in the course of playing (and becoming addicted to) the game, I began to unravel just how it manages to engage and retain players so well.

Meaningful Downtime Mechanics

Games relying on appointment mechanics as part of their compulsion loop typically have trouble addressing the downtime that arises in between these appointments. Specifically, how to engage players during this time, as generally the most engaging gameplay and core mechanics are intertwined with these downtime-creating appointment mechanics. In city builder games, usually the only thing available to the player during downtime is re-organizing their cities — shallow gameplay, generally speaking.

In this sense, CoC is no different. However the composition of the player’s village is not only vital to success, but a downtime session of moving gold mines and cannons around can directly lead to a micro-transaction.

A quick explanation for those that have not played CoC: The layout of your buildings, walls, traps, and weaponry are key, as you need to defend against raids from other players. An airtight defense quickly becomes the obsession of CoC players as they try to protect their stores of gold and elixir. Using the Replay feature (more on this later), they watch and learn from their defeats, tweaking their layout to patch holes in their defense.

In short, this is a fantastic downtime mechanic. Why?

It’s meaningful.

It creates additional, long play sessions (a level 20 player could easily spend half an hour doing a total revamp of their defenses).

Spurs on purchases — “I could defend the south side of the village with just these two cannons if they were upgraded. But I don’t have enough gold … But if I don’t upgrade, I’m too vulnerable.” A perfect example of this mechanic leading to a micro-transaction.

The player’s fortress layout is personal and unique. This attachment is great for engagement long-term.

As you can see, this isn’t just a fantastic downtime mechanic, but a fantastic gameplay mechanic period.

Loop Optimization

Loop optimization provides the player with tricks to discover and exploit over the course of their lifetime within the game. A prime example in social games is Farmville players finding and planting the seeds with the best coin/XP cost ratio. Instances of loop optimization help with long-term engagement by making a game more difficult to grok, and in competitive games, providing an edge to players with the will to unearth them. In social games with appointment mechanics, they also create more sessions per day.

Loop optimization in CoC is centered on resource collecting and raids. In classic appointment mechanic fashion, for the player to most efficiently harvest gold and elixir they need to return to the game and harvest right when the resource generating structures are at max capacity. Harvest any time past that point, and it’s the equivalent of turning on a tap to fill a bucket and leaving, coming back, and seeing the bucket overflowing — wasted resources. This is not unique to CoC in any way, but it’s still important in maximizing the number of daily sessions per player.

The more interesting loop optimization comes from player vs. player (PvP) and the threat of raids. Leaving hoards of gold and elixir sitting around makes the player a very appealing target for raids. Thus they are encouraged to check in often and do one of two things:

Collect their resources from the buildings that generate them, moving them into their storage units, which if the player is smart, are behind fortifications.

Collect and spend their resources immediately.

As the player can only build a certain number of defenses at any given time (based on the level of their town hall), they can never provide adequate protection for all of their structures.

Thus the need to check in often and spend, or move the gold and elixir to storage units that are better protected — it’s a common strategy to keep storage units behind walls and near archery towers and cannons, and leave gold mines and elixir collectors out in the open, as they store much less and therefore are less of a loss if pillaged.

This all means that saving up for big-ticket upgrades and buildings is risky. The more time spent saving up, the bigger the loss and time wasted if the player is raided. Recognizing that a moment of tension and risk is a great time to conduct a micro-transaction, Supercell offers a shield that will protect the player from raids while they are saving up. Or the player can just buy the item in question immediately with hard currency.

Replay Feature

The replay feature was added to CoC in an update, and in short, it’s brilliant. Allowing the player to see first-hand how they got raided by pointing out the weak points in their fortifications makes them spend more time and money in-game adjusting their defenses. It functions as a useful tutorial, of sorts.

Push Notification Strategy

CoC’s push notifications are useful, draw the player back into the game for another session and aren’t spammy. Push notifications telling the player that their village has been raided are particularly effective at creating both new sessions and monetization. Stolen resources set the player back in the “harvesting” portion of the game loop, which can lead to micro-transactions by impatient players wanting to catch up.

You would be hard pressed to ever want to turn off the game’s push notifications because of this balance of utility and unobtrusiveness. I believe this restrained approach has been taken because the threat of PvP raids creates an organic source of notifications that, if combined with too many “hard coded” ones, could have become annoying.

Conclusion

Behind the gaudy revenue that it brings in (Supercell reportedly makes approximately $1 million a day between its two iOS titles), Clash of Clans is a highly engaging game with an especially tight game loop and economy that deserves every designer’s attention. Although it is still lacking a cohesive social experience, even the most cynical opponents of free-to-play games can see the care and attention that has gone into creating it.

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