Clash of Clans, a Supercell game, was launched in June 2012, almost four years ago. Clash, along with Boom Beach, Supercell’s hit title, has been a dominant player in the category of mid-core games on touchscreen devices for almost four years.
Despite some incremental improvements to gameplay over the past four years, the game loops for mid-core games have remained essentially the same: build your base, raise an arm army, and fight other players to climb up the leaderboards. This loop has been a constant for many years, exhausting players with their troop-training and building timers. Supercell’s Clash Royale smashes the mid-core benchmarks that it created and sets new rules that all future mid-core games must follow.
Supercell’s winning formula is what Royale uses.
First, create a game that is both familiar and new. Royale is a mixture of Clash of Clans, Hearthstone and the original Clash of Clans. My mind doesn’t think the lanes have anything to do with MOBAs, but they serve as simplifications of battle AI.
Second, keep the feature list simple. Many companies focus on “feature parity” when launching games. This is a mistake, as you cannot build great end-game features until you have data about player behavior.
The final and third step is to focus on polish features and info. A well-balanced economy, attractive graphics, and a lack of bugs create a sense of quality.
Developers around the globe downloaded Royale when it was soft launched in Canada. They felt immense joy and excitement playing the game. We quickly felt sadness as we realized that Supercell had just changed the rules. Royale, the fourth Supercell title in succession, will be the game that captures the market and makes all the other game-makers look like novices.
The Core Loop
Royale’s game loop consists of two parts: battle and the meta-game of building or updating card decks. The core loop of the game, which drives it, is made up four key elements. The first is the synchronous battle between player and player. A player can earn Trophies for winning a battle, but losing a battle will deduct them. Trophies are coveted by players as they unlock new Arenas that offer better rewards for victories. An Arena is basically a league tier.
It is important to notice that Battle does not consume resources as shown in the above image. This was done during the soft launch phase. Previously, players had to spend Gold on each battle. The battle is completely free so players can play for hours. This is a significant change from any other mid-core build and battle game. It also limits the enjoyment of fighting through troop-training costs and timers.
Trophies can be used to matchmaking, as well as climbing up leagues. It is important to note that winning matches in Royale does not reward players with currency, unlike other build-and-battle games. Winning unlocks the possibility of receiving new Cards. This creates the ideal scenario in which players can push for more Trophies (wins), while at the same, they end up matching their opponents against ever-tougher opponents. Clash of Clans was a game where players were often rewarded with currency for winning. This is a huge improvement from Clash of Clans. Players would deliberately lose Trophies to be matched with weaker players that could easily raid for resources.
There is no incentive to play with weaker opponents, unlike in other build and battle games..
A Treasure Chest is also given to players after a victory. A given chest’s content is determined by the type of Chest and the Arena level of the player at the time it was received. A player can only have one Chest unlock at a given time. They can also hold no more than four Chests. Due to the limited number of Chests players can have, players are not allowed to keep all the Chests that they win in battles. This causes the waiting/monetization portion of the core loop. Gems, a premium currency, can be used to skip this part. Gems can be used to unlock more chests.
After the chest’s unlock times have expired, players are prompted to return to the game. A positive return session is ensured by returning to the game to unlock a Treasure Chest. This rewards player for winning hours ago. Treasure chests are vital for progression as they reward players with loots of Gold, Cards, and occasionally small amounts of Gems.
While the number of Trophies a player holds is a measure of their progress, it does not determine how they are ranked. The Player Level is what controls the progress. To level up to the Player Level, you will need XP. You can only earn XP by upgrading your Cards.
The simple power-up mechanism of upgrading cards in Royale can be used to upgrade your card. This is something you are probably familiar with from card collecting games. First, the player must find a new card in a Chest. This will give the player the first level for that card. Each time a player gets more of the same card he can boost his power by consuming all the cards required to make one card. Higher levels of a card require more Gold and Cards. A player cannot help but level up his/her cards. This not only increases the stats but also gives you XP which is required to Level Up. It is vital that a player has a Player Level. This increases their hit-points and makes them more powerful in battles.
Clash Royale’s synchronous, fast-paced battle between player and player is addictive. It takes just a few seconds to open the app and go to matchmaking to start a battle. The battles are both fun to play and entertaining to watch because of the anticipation generated by the asymmetrical knowledge among the players.
Both players will have a strategy they want to execute with the chosen deck of cards during battle. The board is visible to spectators, as well as the hands of the opponents. However, they don’t know what’s going on inside the heads of the players. E-sports and poker are popular because of their asymmetrical knowledge. Spectators also see the cards that each player holds.
Arena & Rules
Clash Royale’s Battle Arena consists of two lanes and two towers. There is also a central tower. The easiest and most effective way to win is to have more Crowns at match’s end. Each match has a three-minute time limit. If the match ends in a draw, there is a chance to win a one-minute overtime. As many crowns possible before the time runs out. Each Tower that is taken down earns a player one crown. Knockout is the second way to win. This in Royale refers to the destruction of the Central Tower. The player who destroys the Central Tower instantly receives three Crowns and a high-five from all those watching.
A player can gain one Elixir points every two seconds during the first half of battle, and up to a maximum of 10. The battle mode’s momentum changes from a tactical turn-based attack and defense to an all-out clash after the first two minutes. The Elixir generation speed increases for each match. The cards that the player places on the arena are what consume Elixir. It is often the exact spot where the player places the card that determines whether they win or lose. Each player can only have four cards. Each card that is played brings the next card to the player’s hands. While units and buildings must be placed within the area that is available, spells can be cast anywhere in the arena.
Strategy and Mastery
Royale battles require both strategy and gameplay mastery to win. To build card decks, strategy is essential. The player must ensure that the deck’s average cost is kept under control and that different cards are distributed evenly. To use the correct cards in the right place at the right time, mastery is required during battle.
Clash Royale units function in a similar way to Clash of Clans units: players drop a unit card onto the arena. This initiates the deployment countdown (Clash Of Clans does not have any deployment timers). The unit placed will move along the lane towards its opponent’s tower once the deployment timer expires. It can target buildings or ground targets depending on which unit it is targeting. Some units are also capable of targeting airborne units. A simple two-lane battlefield eliminates any path-making problems that plague the build & fight genre. These are the ones where units attack something insignificant, such as a wall piece, and then get destroyed by a defensive tower nearby.
The key to winning in a battle is timing and precise placement of cards.
Royale attacks must be carefully planned and calculated. To absorb damage from defensive towers, the first player may drop a tanking unit that has a lot more health. The opponent will most likely drop units to defend the tower as soon as the tank unit approaches it. You can then attack the defenders using splash damage spells like Fireballs and Arrows. You can also drop ranged units behind a tank to attack defenders while they focus their attacks on the tanking unit in the front. As an attacker, it is important not to quickly drop all units as they could be countered by a splash damage-dealing spell.
Royale is an advantage for the defending player. The Tower is the weapon that shoots at all attacking troops. The defender has an advantage because the attacker must reveal his cards first, allowing the defender to counter these cards. In a counterattack, the defender will have an advantage if he consumes less Elixir. If the defender can destroy the attacking force without losing any of his defenders, the attacker will be countered with the survivors.
In Clash Royale, an attacking player is often at a disadvantage.
The battle in Royale is addictive and fun, but it’s not perfect. My biggest problem is that the defenders have such an advantage. As the battle begins, neither player is incentivized or required to place a card. It is too risky to spend Elixir at the beginning without knowing any information about the opponent’s hands, while Elixir generation continues at a steady pace.
Supercell should address this issue in future updates. One solution could be to add more cheap Elixir to the attack. This will allow the player who is the first to attack to place an attack to provoke a reaction from the defense. However, this won’t leave the attacker at disadvantage for spending too many Elixir. Another option is to use the Hearthstone/Advanced Wars system, in which players select a hero character to represent their deck/army. The Barbarian King would be a good choice for the Hero character. This will give ground melee units a slight boost. The opponent’s hero will help reduce the number of cards he may have and allow for more calculated attacks at the beginning of the match.
Royale’s metagame is about building a balanced deck with 8 cards. Instead of focusing only on powerful cards, players should build their deck around synergy. It is important that every card works with the others so that there are a perfect flow of counterattacks, defenses, and attacks. The best thing about deck building is that cards are balanced. This means that every opponent will have a different hand. Building decks is a meta-game that is never static. Players can earn Trophies as they move through arenas and unlock new cards with their opponents.
To win the battle, a player must destroy the towers of the opponent. To achieve this goal, players have two types of damage cards. The first are direct damage cards, which deal damage only to one unit or building at a given time. These cards are the most damaging and have the greatest hit-points. They’re crucial against tanks and towers. The splash damage card is the second type of damage card. It deals damage to multiple targets at one time. These cards do less damage per second, but they can hit multiple targets at once, making them crucial to combat low-hit point units.
Finding the right combination between cards in your deck is key to success.
A player must balance direct and splash damage cards. Ranged units can be used to take down the ground and air targets. They are often referred to as “glass cannons”, in that they do high damage per second, but have low hit points. Ranged units are low in hit points so players need to protect them with melee units that have high-hit points. However, too many melee units can make them more vulnerable to flying and splash damage cards.
Royale places defense as much importance as an offense. This means that a player must ensure that he/she owns at least one defensive building. There are two types. The first is different defensive towers such as “Tesla”, and “Cannon”. The second type of defensive buildings is troop-generating buildings like the “Goblin Hut”, which spawns “Spear Goblins”, at short intervals. Either defensive units help to fill the lane with smaller units, slowing down the attacking force, and/or they cause direct damage.
A player must have at least one spell card in his deck, along with all their building and unit cards. Fireball and other spells do a lot of damage to Towers or attacking units. Spells such as “Freeze”, on the other side, freeze all units and buildings of opponents in an area. This allows player’s units to cause damage without taking any.
A good deck must also have a moderately high average Elixir price. Higher Elixir costs are associated with stronger cards. High-cost cards won’t allow players to quickly react to their opponents’ cards because they will have to pay a lot more.
The meta-game of Royale, much like Clash of Clans is very balanced. There is no card that can make another card obsolete. Royale allows you to create many winning combinations by balancing different cards so they fit the above categories. The perfect balance of cards can be seen when you watch the top Royale TV matches. Each deck is unique. Players are forced to constantly modify their decks because they don’t have a perfect hand.
The variety of winning hands can be seen in the TV Royale decks. As the metagame evolves with each update, there are many winning strategies that can be used.
Clash Royale, a synchronous player-versus-player battler that has no single player mode is by design a social game. Clash Royale offers a number of robust and engaging social features. These social features provide a solid foundation for future social competitive features.
Without the clans, Clash Royale would not be a sequel of Clash Clans. Clash of Clans is based on troop donations. This allows clan members to share small amounts of units with each other. The same donation model applies in Royale, where players can give small amounts of cards to one another.
Every 8 hours, each clan member can request cards. Clan members can request up to two cards per clan member once the request has been made on clan chat. The more rare cards you donate, the more Gold your clan member will get. Donors are not only rewarded with Gold but also receive XP for each card they donate. XP is a great incentive to donate because acquiring XP becomes extremely slow once the player has upgraded his/her initial set of cards. Only players can request cards they have unlocked via Treasure Chests. Epic Rare cards are not available to players.
It is a rewarding experience to give cards to clan members. Spending more cards to the clan over time creates a nice loop of social obligations. The meat is in the fight, and fighting your clan members is the best way to have fun.
Clans in Royale are fun because clan members can fight each other. It’s free and there is no cost or reward for battling. Clan members simply post a challenge in the chat and wait for other clan members to accept it. This is a simple, but a powerful tactic that works especially well when clan members live in the same space. My clan members are often my colleagues. We battle in the same office space and sometimes hook up our iPhones to a screen so more people can watch it. Personally, I have never seen a more fun player-versus-player battle. It is both fun for the players and also for spectators.
Royale, as I have said, is fun to watch. This is due to the asymmetrical knowledge of the players and the spectator and the fact that they only last a few minutes. Royale matches are not only entertaining but also very powerful. The deep and ever-evolving meta-game of deck building, along with the mastery of card placement, encourages players to study how the best players play.
You can stream touchscreen esports games like Hearthstone or Vainglory outside of the game via Twitch, Mobcrush, and other game streaming sites. Royale does not force players to leave the game to watch a match. Royale TV instead offers Royale TV which shows the best fights in the game and allows for a strong spectator experience.
Royale TV cannot be used to replace streaming services. It doesn’t allow players to connect with each other or follow them. Royale TV’s role is to help players get over losing streaks that are inevitable. Royale TV will help you if you are feeling beat up or your deck isn’t performing as well as it once did. Royale TV offers a quicker and more efficient method of getting help than watching a teenager from Sweden compete on Mobcrush. Although it might not be as entertaining, it is still a great way to get help. It all depends on your preference.
Retention is the key to monetization, but it’s more about players’ desire to move faster than they are. When their progress slows down, players are more likely to spend money. A good monetization strategy allows players to save time and make progress more quickly in exchange for money. A player’s desire to catch up to or advance to other players is the driving force behind good monetization.
Allow the players to taper off their progress
Clash Royale is just like other Supercell games. It excels at monetization by sticking to the basics. You must first get players to enjoy the rapid progress. This happens in Royale’s first two arenas. 24 of the 42 current cards are already unlocked by the time the player reaches the second arena. The extremely low upgrade costs for the first set are a great support to the player’s initial rapid progress.
Players quickly reach a plateau as they continue to play. They lose battles to higher-level units and towers. They will also be unable to upgrade their cards quickly enough to get Gold.
In-clan card donations can further increase the gold pinch. My clan members may give me cards but I still need the Gold to upgrade them. An active clan assists clan members in upgrading cards, but they don’t have the funds. The pinch would be less without the donations. It would take me long until I could upgrade a card. By that time, I would likely have more Gold which would discourage me from buying more.
My belief is that games should adopt a less-is-more approach to monetization in order to achieve high levels of revenue. One or more should be enough. There should be no more than two points where players would like to spend money. Regular sales should be avoided as they create additional work for the team and do not increase overall revenue. They simply change purchasing patterns.
Clash Royale follows the same monetization strategy as the other top-grossing Supercell games: less is more. Royale allows players to spend Gems, the hard currency. They can use it for Treasure Chest Unlocks or Gold purchases.
When you first begin playing Clash Royale, the mechanic can feel really harsh. Each win unlocks one of three Treasure Chests. It takes, depending on the rarity, three, eight, or twelve hours to unlock one chest. A player can only unlock one chest at once and can have a maximum of four chests. You will not be able to receive a chest if you have full chest slots and win a battle.
Due to the time, it takes to unlock a chest, and the limited number of chests that a player has, there is a strong incentive for chest unlocks to be speeded up. There is an opportunity cost to a player not speeding up chest unlocks. The player sees it as a loss of potential chests if they battle when their chest slots are full. The player feels compelled to increase chest unlock speed and maximize the chance of winning.
The player can not only earn chests through winning battles but also buy them from the in-game store. This isn’t incentivized because the Gem price for a chest is more expensive than the Gem price for a gold chest (if you compare Gems prices to Gold).
Upgrade cards require a card upgrade. Since the donation rewards are very small, Treasure Chests is the best way to earn Gold. The number of chests a player unlocks will determine how much Gold they receive each day. Chests that have a longer timer reward more gold per hour. An engaged player will unlock four Silver Chests and one Gold Chest each day. This amounts to anywhere from 340 to 450 Gold depending on their current arena level.
The first upgrade costs only a few tens of dollars. There’s no need to worry about it. As the player unlocks rare and epic cards and progresses in the game, upgrade prices rise to thousands. To upgrade one card, a player must play for at least one week. The waiting period for upgrading a card is longer than it seems. To upgrade a card, he or she must collect all required Cards. This allows them to play for an additional week.
Clash Royale is a great example of monetization. It follows a basic set of rules which allows players to move quickly in the beginning, then gradually slow down while increasing the competition.
Royale isn’t a victim of old-school esport monetization methods like customization. These methods generate low average revenue per player and increase the demand for more memory-heavy content. Royale’s strong base monetization via currency purchases and speed-ups means that it doesn’t depend on content-heavy updates to increase revenues like Hearthstone. Although Royale is on the edge between pay-to-win and royale, I believe this is a better problem than trying to chase the dollar with an ever-increasing number of game content.
The Royale Era’s Beginning
Clash Royale is what players are looking for in mid-core games. It offers more action and less base building. Clash Royale’s synchronous battles and well-balanced cards combined with the simple progress mechanics under the Clash of Clans name will ensure that it remains a top-selling game for many years.
Royale isn’t for everyone. E-sport purists will be unhappy about the progression mechanics. This basically allows players who are more advanced (or paid more) to have a clear advantage over others. Purists still have their League of Legends or Vainglories. They wouldn’t trade for casual Royale games.
Clash Royale is a meta-game that monetizes through the meta-game. This will change how mid-core games are perceived. However, Royale will fare better than Hearthstone’s inspiration title because it was built for mobile and Supercell does not hesitate to use traditional free-to-play monetization mechanisms to generate ungodly revenue.