I talked to Supercell’s CEO Ilkka Paananen on where the company stands today and a little about their future plans as well. Supercell is a hot Finnish gaming company that closed a $12 million series A from Accel in May. We covered the company in February initially and it’s come incredibly far since then. Supercell employs some 40 people in two locations and its Gunshine game has shown some incredible traction.
First of all, the figures. Since its launching, Supercell’s Gunshine has attracted some one million beta players/testers overall. Of these, some 500 000 are active players of the game, meaning they actively play it every month. People keep coming back. This is actually one of the metrics Ilkka Paananen told me they’re keeping a close eye on – how well they are able to create an addictive game.
But the bigger picture here is perhaps a little more interesting. Last week, Paananen gave a talk in GDC Europe about their vision as a company regarding gaming. They believe all three major types of gaming; core, social and browser based games are converging into one. This is partially happening as a result of better technology, such as Flash 11, but also due to the evolution of gaming and consumer desires.
This of course means that Supercell is right in the core of this when it comes to their offering. Their game is highly immersive, an attribute usually linked to core games while being also social and browser based. Not only this, but Paananen also outlined four issues they focus while developing Gunshine: free to play, accessibility, immersion and cross platform.
Free to play is a large trend that can be seen from the top grossing lists on App Stores. Accessibility is another key issue. Paananen compared how many clicks and how long it took for gamers to begin playing World of Warcraft compared to Gunshine. World of Warcraft required 32 clicks and over an hour before the player could begin to play it while Gunshine took between 40-60 seconds and just a few clicks. Huge difference in accessibility. Finally, cross platform meaning they’ll be providing games for other platforms such as tablet and mobile devices in the future.
People may have also wondered how on earth a company developing a browser based game could justify a $12 million investment from Accel. The secret isn’t in the game they’re developing, but what they developed and administer the game with. Supercell has developed an extensive and very impressive backend to build games faster and after being built, monitor them through their own metrics console.
Supercell is actually able to use this backend to also expand their Gunshine world with ease. Where as traditionally it would take designers and coders to work together to launch something into the world, at Supercell game designers relase the material themselves. The backend they’ve developed enables all this. To those seeing the potential of all this, the $12 million looks like a well justified investment all of a sudden.
Ilkka Paananen also revealed that they’re working on three new titles in addition to Gunshine. My understanding, based on our discussion, is that the games will be released in 2012. He did not reveal who they are targeting with the games nor what kind of games they will be.