Apps clash1

Published on November 19th, 2012 | by treysmith

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$700,000… PER DAY?

Ok, first off I want to give a shout out to the people from my App Elite class.  Lots of these guys are CRUSHING IT and I’m very proud of them.  I’ve received numerous emails about people quitting their jobs and there are over 16 people who went from nothing to making over $500 net profit per day.

That is freakin’ awesome.  Seriously life changing stuff!

One of those guys is Sean Demeyere who owns Awesome Wicked Games.  Sean is a smart dude and is always watching the newswire to see what’s going on in the mobile game world.  He sent me this article on indie game developers Supercell, the makers of Clash of Clans, and it blew me away.

Supercell is a game company from Finland that was founded in 2010.  They must be drinking the same water as their Angry Bird neighbors, Rovio, because they are now making an estimated $700,000 PER DAY off of two games that are currently in the top 10:  

This is interesting because there is a shift in Social Games going on that I talked about some in this post.

The first social games were just about managing resources.  There wasn’t any actual REAL game play… it was just building and waiting.  Even though I have built a couple, I had a hard time actually getting into it.  There was absolutely no STRATEGY really involved.

I’ll play games with strategy for hours on end (I’m the biggest Stratego nerd I know), but just building things and waiting for things drives me nuts.  That’s one reason we decided to make a click-style game like Mafia Wars called Future War.  Even though it’s resource and time management, we have a backend server that allows people to battle each other in real time.  It makes the game 100x more interactive and fun.

Supercell jumped out into the “social games with actual gameplay and strategy” market earlier this year and are kicking ass.

Their company is now valued at around $600,000,000 and they are making an estimated $700,000 per DAY.  That’s up from $500,000 they confirmed 2 months ago.  If they keep it up that’s $22 million a month.  Not bad ;)  I think it’s safe to say that Social Games with REAL gameplay is the next wave we’ll see a lot of in 2013.

So how did they do it?

Deconstructing Clash of Clans

Well, the first thing I was curious about was where did they get the idea?

Very VERY rarely do these companies just make up the gameplay on their own.  Even the indie darling MineCraft was heavily inspired by Infiniminer.  If you want a proven game formula, then this is it:  Find a gameplay type that people love + tweak to improve it + add in a great theme = profit.

At least minecraft did add lots of enhancements and improvements, unlike many other clones of the past.

What gameplay style did Clash of Clans copy?  At first I didn’t know, so I started doing some digging and one particular game name kept popping up:

Galaxy Life was a popular game by Digital Chocolate that came out about a year ago on Facebook.  The game did well and received critical praise.  I’m not sure exactly where THEY came up with the idea, but I’m sure if we searched around enough something else would pop up ;)  The game monetized well enough for them to release it on iOS in June 2012 under the name Galaxy Life Pocket Adventure.

The game did OK on iOS.  They topped out at 284 on the iPhone grossing chart.  Not amazing, but not too bad.

Before today, I had not heard of this game, so I decided to download it to see how similar it was to Clash of Clans.  I’ve played Clash of Clans a few times, but deleted and re-download it as well.  That way I could have a fresh look at both games from the beginning and walk through the tutorials.

When I started with the Galaxy Life tutorial I was surprised.  It seemed VERY familiar.  You start off by having to immediately defend your colony from attackers.  After easily beating them, you then fly to another galaxy to attack the same bad guys.  Basically it’s like tower defense + a social game.  If you have played Clash of Clans, then this is probably ringing a bell.

Sure enough, I open up Clash of Clans and it’s the EXACT same tutorial.  I mean, literally the same thing.  It moves at a smilar pace, the objects are similar and gameplay is the same.  You start off and immediately are being attacked.  You have to setup units to defend your colony, then after beating them, you magically fly over to their colony and defeat them.

I was extremely surprised how similar it was.  Later in the game things do change some (for the better), but definitely the core gameplay is the same.  This was not something that was just invented out of thin air.

It’s brilliant marketing though.  Not only did they take great gameplay and make it better, they also chose a much wider and accepted theme.  If you look in the top 50 grossing apps you’ll see MUCH more fantasy games than alien games.  Fantasy games are really hot right now.

So where did Supercell come up with the idea to heavily build their game off of Galaxy LIfe?

After doing a little digging I saw this on the Supercell site:

(Click to Englarge)

5 out of the 8 founders and executive team are from Digital Chocolate, the makers of Galaxy Life.  That’s 62% of the people running the company.  So there you have it ;)

I think Supercell is a genius company and I’m not knocking them AT ALL.  As you guys know I am a marketer at heart (as well as a gamer) and the way they did this game was brilliant:

  1. They found gameplay that was exciting and PROVEN.
  2. They tweaked it by adding more content.
  3. Then they chose a much wider “theme” that is very prevalent in the App Store.

To me business is the ultimate game and they played it very smart.  Bravo to them and I hope they are making it rain in the office daily ;)

Talk soon,

Trey

P.S. – I haven’t done a live webinar in ages.  I have something special lined up about 2 weeks from now that I will be announcing soon.  If you aren’t on my list yet, then sign up to check it out :)

P.P.S. – Oops.. CORRECTION.  It’s $750,000 per day!  Also someone mentioned in the comments that they were from a different Digital Chocolate studio than the Galaxy Life guys.  This could totally be true and I am not insinuating they did anything wrong at all.  Again, I think it’s a brilliant marketing move but it’s very apparent where they got the idea from.

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About the Author

Trey Smith is the founder of Kayabit, a game company with over 10,000,000 downloads on mobile devices, Secret Headquarters, Inc, a marketing company that teaches entrepreneurs how to build their businesses and L-System records, a house music label from San Diego, CA.



82 Responses to $700,000… PER DAY?

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  3. Super Jenks says:

    Big kudos to the small group at Super Cell. Their plan, vision, and execution is paying off big dividends. Clash of Clans is wildly addictive and well produced.

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  5. The crazy thing is, Supercell is making way more than $700K per day now!!!! I read an article recently stating they are making between $1mil-$1.3 million per day !!! Insanity!!

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  7. Trey,
    Awesome article. Thank you for sharing this information.

    I’m going to share this artcile on my website (http://www.IphoneAppExperiment.com) am I’m sure my followers will benefit from the information you shared. Thanks!

    Dennis

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  10. Priya Sri says:

    Hi Trey, A wonderful article! Thanks for sharing! I think it is okay, rather ‘smart’, to be a follower! And even that’s an art in itself! And they have done it well … rather incredibly well ! :) For example, Zara has been a follower in the fashion industry, but it’s just that they do it in a remarkable manner! So it’s not ‘idea’ innovation … it is rather an execution innovation on an ‘existing’ idea!

    - Priya

  11. Wil Morales says:

    Ok, wow that sounds unbelievable!!! It doesn’t make sense though when I just read this article on a study was just done by Canalys. They discovered that over a 20-day period 25 developers generated 60 million in revenue, which was half of the 120 million that was generated during that period. If 700k is correct then Supercell would have generated 14 million in 20 days, which would be nearly 25% of the 60 million. Is that even possible when of the 25 developers you have, Zynga, Electronic Arts, Disney, Kabam, Rovio, Glu, Gameloft and Storm8’s TeamLava??? Why aren’t the numbers adding up? Am I missing something here? Check out the article. http://www.canalys.com/newsroom/top-25-us-developers-account-half-app-revenue

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  13. Josh says:

    Trey,

    Can you send me more information about yoru App elite course? I’ve been hard pressed to find anything on it, but what I seem to have found is that registration for your last course has ended and you will not be offering this anymore? Is this true?

    Would love to talk to you more about this and the possibility of hiring you on as a personal coach/consultant while I’m in the process of developing my first app.

    Hope to hear from ya soon man!

  14. bolba says:

    Did you play Travian?
    Some say Clash of Clans borrowed a lot from there too.

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  17. brenden says:

    This seems like a growing trend, emulate what is working, making it better, and finding a theme that is universal — not just a specific demographic. As a new app entrepreneur, this gives me confidence in following proven steps that work and not racking my brain to come up with “the next big thing”

  18. Ariel says:

    Though I haven’t been doing marketing for games (iOS and Android) for a long time, but I’ve been in this industry since my first job. I have to say this numbers are really incredible. I always believe that a huge success on games or apps, at least 50% was decided by the game or app itself, and the other 50% can be controlled by marketing, and Clash of Clans has already got the 50% for their game quality, but the problem is how about the other 50%, what they really did out there on marketing. Trey mentioned that they spent around $60,000 per day on ads, but where did those money been spent (besides RevMob)? And there’s one thing I really curious about, where did Trey get those numbers about their revenue and spending?

    Anyway, really appreciate about sharing this article, so inspired.

  19. Kevin says:

    Hey Guys,

    Trey, great blog and thing you got going here. I’m just getting into this business and have been doing research and studying the industry.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but a game like Clash of Clans would get a decent chunk of their downloads through tons of ads in other apps of all kinds (ie: via RevMob), and wouldn’t they then pay a pretty decent penny for these downloads (that’s why RevMob is so profitable, because the big guns are willing to pay pretty big bucks for downloads). I may be totally misunderstanding this, but out of that $750k would come these advertising expenses. This creates a trickle down effect to all the apps that are making money off of RevMob.

    So it’s a good thing all around…

    Please confirm if my understanding is correct here.

    Cheers

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  21. Well, Backyard Monsters was one earlier hit game on Facebook a few years back that you might find quite familiar after playing these two titles… That’s exactly how you build massively successful games (or anything for that matter) as you said – take something that works, and make it better, innovate somehow. If you try to innovate on all fronts, you introduce too much uncertainty and are much more likely to fail. Pretty much all the guys at Supercell have 10y+ game industry experience so they know how to make great games :) What really demonstrates how professional and serious they are is that they’ve said they’ve already killed 3 game productions this year (while only launching these 2)…

  22. Marc Ilgen says:

    Trey, thanks for posting this on Supercell and Clash of Clans. I’ve been a bit addicted to this game, since I love strategy games, and I had wondered how successful it was financially. These numbers exceed my wildest guess. On the other hand, I also noticed they took in about $12M in VC funding in 2011, so they are definitely not just a garage shop.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercell_%28video_game_company%29
    But this shows what can be done in the iPhone/iPad game world with great ideas and a bit of persistence.

    I was wondering if you knew how many servers they are using to support a game like this? Or what their monthly hosting fees are like? How feasible is it for a one or two person game development studio to put out a multiplayer game? If one can run the game on just a few cloud servers (say 3 or 4 servers on a hosted cloud plan) then I’m guessing the hosting costs would be a few hundred $/month, which is manageable if the game is profitable. What kind of server network are you planning for your multiplayer games? Let me suggest this might be a great topic for another blog post.

    • treysmith says:

      Oh yeh, probably was me ;)

    • treysmith says:

      Totally agree. 60 person company is probably not “indie” but they were only like 10 guys when they originally did Clash of Clans I believe. An even better example is BackFlip Studios. They’ve had zero funding and are just a small studio in Colorado yet Dragonvale was doing $400,000 per day!

  23. Wade says:

    Thanks, Trey. Always appreciate your work!

  24. Tom Raines says:

    It’s hard to believe for many, hover I believe. Because I understand there are companies that generate even into the Hundreds of Millions a day.

    • treysmith says:

      Man, Apple did $400,000,000 a day the last quarter. THAT is mind boggling!

      • Tom Raines says:

        There is a few private firms that are worth about 1 Trillion, that is mind boggling! Most can’t even imagine making $1,000 a day, while there groups and people that make up to Half A Billion or more a day. Games like Angry Birds have even created small empires. Small Game Empires like that not only sale their games, however they generate capital from licensing for stuff from greeting cards to toys. So their cash flow starts coming in for sources that most never pay any attention to.

  25. Curt D says:

    It seems like those numbers CAN’T be real. Wouldn’t they be bigger than Google in like 36 months? Something just doesn’t seem right because the law of competition would have similar copied games out in a week if these numbers are true.

    • Michael says:

      I don’t think those numbers are sustainable for very long… but long enough to make them close to a billion dollar company. Then they’ll move on to another game and try to do it again. Or if they’re smart they’ll sell the company and take the money and run. And THEN do it again.

      One lesson that I’ve learned is that you can’t rest on your laurels too long. I sat around for 18 months working on an update to my game Big Bad Sudoku Book and enjoying the revenue stream. But then the store changed, the update tanked and now I’m wishing that I had spent that time writing about 5 new games. My currently lifestyle would be completely different. Instead of worrying how I’m going to pay rent I’d be buying a new car.

      My new strategy it to learn a little from Trey, try to replicate my past success again and again, and keep feeding that pipeline.

      • Ariel says:

        I think it’s really hard to say whether those numbers are sustainable for long term or not, like you mentioned, they can always move forward to new titles and take advantages of their laurels. I thought Rivio really was a good example of doing this (of course not all the game companies can do it), they succeed on 1 title and stick onto it, they produced a series of Angry Birds games, and expanded their business to toy and other stuff (have to say they really did a great joyb on branding both their products and company), and that’s the reason why every time their new title came out can hit the top list of Apple App Store. So if Supercell can figure out a way for their own, they’ll keep their success for long term, but we both know, it’ll be really hard.

  26. Andri says:

    holy macaroni..that’s a lot of monies

  27. Matt Greener says:

    Crazy, those numbers seem unreal, but so simple to obtain in concept!

    Do you have a new course coming and/or be re-releasing The Software System?

  28. P-Dog says:

    thanks for doing this in-depth research.

  29. Roger says:

    Hi Trey,

    I think I just stumbled upon an ingenius new app game genre opportunity, I am sure you will see the potential right off the bat.

    Maybe after you built your first gazillion $ app based on this idea, you will build an app based on this fab idea for little old me, as a sign of appreciation and all that
    .
    Check it out, it is so COOL.

    Cheers

    Roger

  30. Gacomo Balli says:

    pretty amazing indeed.
    After 3 years and 50+ apps in the story I decided to give developing an iOS game a try: http://giacomoballi.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/coin-toss-extreme-the-first-coin-flip-game-for-iphone/

    Definitely not those numbers but have to admit it’s proving itself to be a good market although extremely crowded.

    Do you have any insight regarding promotion/marketing?

  31. Grammar Nazi's Latin enthusiast cousin says:

    *PPS

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  34. Justin says:

    Further to my post below: this is Trey’s video I referred to earlier. It’s pretty inspiring.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-xezLvC15s
    Thanks again Trey.

  35. Justin says:

    Trey you rock buddy. I’ve been a fan of yours since I saw your YouTube video on makings apps for iPhones and iPads. You and your gospel are mainly responsible for my quest to learn how to make apps. One app on the AppStore and a Kindle book on Amazon on How to Make Apps yourself later, I really gotta thank you for putting yourself out there. I’m so glad I found this blog now also.

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  37. Lawrence says:

    Your “App Elite Class”, will you be offering that again in the future so those of us who missed out can learn these techniques and even dream to have anywhere close to the success as your current students?

  38. John says:

    Thanks for sharing Trey… WoW! $740K per day “good times!” I hadn’t heard of this game before today, I’ll have to check them out.

    I’ve used the formula you’ve suggested:
    “Find a gameplay type that people love + tweak to improve it + add in a great theme = profit”

    It works…

  39. Matt C. says:

    As always Trey when I read your posts there is a new nugget to take away. That is some serious money to make but it takes some serious money invested to get there. The concern I have is trying to make a great game on the shoestring budget I have in this current iOS landscape. You have shown us previous examples but the bar in which games are expected to be at just keep rising. How do we make profitable games on a tiny budget? Is it still possible to make a $500 game that is profitable? Ps I am about to release my second app from your MGS system!!

  40. Chase says:

    $700K in app sales @!$# Whoa, I didn’t think $700K worth of app purchases would happen in a whole year! People really are ignorant on what they don’t know!

    I’ll be waiting impatiently to hear more about what you have coming up!

  41. dan says:

    cool info…I purchased Deiss book system thru your link and was supposed to get your iphone app system as a bonus…emailed your support but no one replied??

  42. Kaos Anime says:

    Wow this is amazing, this is very motivated for me.

  43. aahhh … too many zeroes … brain bleeding …

  44. Robert says:

    Twas a great insight, thanks Trey

  45. $750,000 a day?

    F me, I’d be ecstatic if I could make 1/10th of 1% of that!

    Cheers,

    Chris.

    PS: Prod your proof reader with a stick – it’s Awesome Wicked Games not as you have it “One of those guys is Sean Demeyere who owns Awesome Wicket Games.” lol

  46. Eric says:

    All of the Supercell management that are former DChoc had left DChoc long before CoC (or Galaxy Life, for that matter) went into development. Also, Galaxy Life was developed by DChoc’s Barcelona studio, not its Helsinki studio, so there is (I believe) no talent overlap on the titles. And Galaxy Life itself borrowed heavily from another title… :) But you’re right: one of the big reason Clash of Clan works and GL didn’t is theme. Most hardcore players were turned off by GL’s cartoonish alien imagery, whereas the fantasy / medieval imagery resonates with that segment. Platform played a big role, too: Facebook is less conducive to mid-core, deep gameplay than iOS.

    • treysmith says:

      Good insider info man! I didn’t know that. I figured the dudes were smart enough not to steal IP or anything stupid.

  47. Impressive numbers indeed, but any insights into how much a game like this costs per day to run? I imagine they need quite a few servers to handle all the players.

  48. Angelo says:

    Talking about braking patterns and limiting beliefs!! Thanks for sharing dude

  49. Suze says:

    Trey-
    Is that a LIVE webinar or a LIFE webinar! :)

    Great reminder about sticking to a proven formula. How are things going in the Kindle space? Are you using that with APPS / or content about APPS at all?

  50. juan says:

    This numbers blow my mind lol,we developed 6 apps one its a game and nest one will be another game!we hope learn your keys for the next one.our game its working well but we are so far of this numbers.amazing trey.we hope in the future achive this goals

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