“One of the most fascinating aspects of Supercell’s approach to design is the focus on social aspects in each game (Lehtonen, The Social Aspect).” In Miikka Lehtonen and J. Harviainen’s article, Mobile Games and Player Communities: Designing for and with Clans, they discuss the rise of Supercell’s games Clash of Clans and Clash Royale. According to her, the one constant among every successful mobile game is the ability to socialize. In the Clash games, this is available through something called Clans. This feature has since been replicated, but in her article, Lehtonen covers exactly why it’s so important to both the players and game designers.
In a previous game log I talked about Clash of Clans’ ability to generate massive amounts of revenue, and the in-game social clans are integral to its vast community. It helps the game, which is free-to-play, draw a large enough audience that is willing to spend big money for in-app purchases. The clans allow players to connect with people they wouldn’t have previously come in contact with. Themes are the common denominator, with some clans built around topics as simple as the players’ nationality or as complex as play-type. In the context of clash of clans, play-type refers to the different attacks someone can use, which depends on the type and amount of individual troops the player has at their disposal. “Instead of segmenting the players top‐down, the company enables users to show how they would like to be categorized (Lehtonen/Harviainen).” I think this is an important observation from Lehtonen because it is well-known that players don’t like for developers to lump them in with broad groups of players. This aspect of clans really allows people to be part of a community where they can feel comfortable and accepted.
Clans provide the fanbase with a sounding board of other players to discuss attacks, defending, and upgrading which Supercell also uses as data to help improve their game. Lehtonen provides insight into how clans quickly became an advantage for the game designers, “Supercell’s own developers engage with the other players in the game and use that insight during development (Lehtonen/Harviainen, Clans as Enhancing the Design Process).” This is something that has allowed Clash of Clans to remain atop the mobile gaming market. The industry in itself is unique because of the opportunity for games to be updated and changed in a way physical games cannot. Supercell’s ability to adapt to their communities’ desires keep modders from developing content the company can’t monitor. The authors summarize Clash of Clan’s success best: “Treating the game as the skeleton and the players as content providers has enabled Supercell to strike a balance between internal design processes and external insights from their customers (Lehtonen/Harviainen).”
Source: Mobile Games and Player Communities: Designing for and with Clans by: Miikka Lehtonen and J. Harviainen, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/drev.12033