Clash Royale – Good game, bad yet successful business model

If I had to name the biggest flaw with both Clash of Clans and Boom Beach is that they make it hard to give SuperCell money. Buying gems in both games is almost counter-productive, as all gems do is progress you faster, and if you are enjoying a game, why would you pay to skip parts of it? (Not that this ‘flaw’ has hurt SuperCell, with just CoC bringing in $1b+ in revenue last year, meaning players spend millions each and every day of the year buying gems…)

Clash Royale, SuperCell’s newest game, ‘fixes’ that problem by having one of the most annoying F2P models I’ve seen yet. You get a loot chest after every win, and you can only store four of those chests at a time. You can pick to open one chest, with different chests taking different amounts of time. The basic silver chest? 3 hours. Gold? 8 hours. And up it goes. There is also a free chest given to you every 3 hours, plus another daily (24hrs) chest.

A match takes 4 minutes or less to play, so even if you currently have zero chests, after less than 16 minutes you will be full, meaning playing more matches won’t earn you another chest for at least almost 3 hours. Now you can play games to earn trophies (move up in rank), but this basically means you will face tougher players without your own deck getting stronger, so… perhaps not the best idea, although if you dig into the meta, you will discover that moving up in rank means opening up more cards and better chest, so while it will mean you lose more, its still not a total waste.

And how well is this new game with this horrible model doing? It has overtaken CoC as the #1 game in the app store. In other words, its pulling in MORE than 2m+ a day right now. Maybe that fades as the newness wears off, but still, that’s crazy impressive.

As for the game itself? It’s a lot of fun. You have a deck of troops and spells that you create, and then use that deck to face other players in quick matches. All cards have different costs of elixir, which you get as the match goes along. You use troop and spell cards on the field of battle, and troops will fight each other or attempt to attack the enemy towers and ultimately the king. Kill the king and you win. It’s simple to get into, but shows good depth of strategy, plus requires quick thinking (real time match) without the action feeling like a test of twitch skills.

Going back to the topic of chests, they contain cards, either new spells/troops, or more copies of what you already have. Collect enough of any card, and you can upgrade the level of the card, increasing stats. This also makes Royale Pay-4-Power until you max out your cards (long, long time if you don’t spend like crazy), as the matchmaking only factors in trophies, not card levels.

I’d say its worth picking up and giving a shot. The matches themselves are very fun, so even though the business model does get in the way, if you can ignore it and accept the slower pace, you can have fun in a short burst of time. Soon as I have enough gold in-game to start a clan, I’ll making a post announcing it.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Clash of Clans, iPhone, RMT. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Clash Royale – Good game, bad yet successful business model

  1. Jonneh says:

    Have you seen the numbers of views on the tv bit? 1,000,000+ on some of them. No idea if that is total views or concurrent though.

    Still, puts twitch numbers to shame. Wondering if someone will try monetising it on twitch.

  2. Mikrakov says:

    I have reached a point in the game where I have 6000 gold worth of card upgrades and only 500 gold, not to mention wanting to spend gold on cards in the shop that I don’t have. The desire to spend money is certainly great, but I have resisted so far.

    • SynCaine says:

      Higher arenas give you better chest. I just opened a 12hr chest from arena 2 and got 800ish gold plus a bunch of cards.

      • Mikrakov says:

        That chest is very rare, I have gotten 1 in a month of playing.

        • Mikrakov says:

          And interestingly both me and Saate also got that chest yesterday, despite never getting it before. I wonder if they gave it to everybody at the same time as a “launch bonus”. We also both got magical chests on the same day a while back, coincidence?

        • SynCaine says:

          Didn’t know the chest is that rare, that’s a pity.

  3. Shandren says:

    The monetization became a good deal less predatory when they removed the goldcost for starting matches. You still cant get anything (except trophies and practise) when your chestslots (and daily crown chest) are full, but at least you can still play the game for fun if you so wish. Before, with goldcost on matches, you were basically hurting yourself if you played when chestslots were full. I think that upgrade specifically made the game a lot less “annoying f2p”.

    I usually only upgrade the cards i have in my active decks. And even when trying out new cards i tend to leave them rather low level for a little while, just to see if i like them before i go nuts with upgrading.

    A little hint for goldmaking (you probably know allready though). Join a clan and donate away as much as you can. 5g/common, 50g/rare, adds up.

    • Mikrakov says:

      I also only upgrade cards in my active deck, but it discourages deck experimentation, and also annoys the slight OCD tenancies I have with a bunch of cards sitting there with and “Upgrade” button that I really really want to press but know I shouldn’t.

  4. tithian says:

    Isn’t the ‘bad yet successful’ bit an oxymoron? The model might not be to your (or my) liking, but from a business standpoint if it’s making tons of cash, it’s better than bad or good; it’s freakin’ amazing.

    • trego says:

      “O heavy lightness! Serious vanity!
      Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
      Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!”

      “Although a true oxymoron is “something that is surprisingly true, a paradox”, Garry Wills has argued that modern usage has brought a common misunderstanding[7] that “oxymoron” is nearly synonymous with “contradiction”. The introduction of this misuse, the opposite of its true meaning, has been credited to William F. Buckley[8].”

      So yes, it’s an oxymoron, but in the original meaning of the term. In this case, the oxymoron is an intentional construction used to highlight the fact that something Syn finds annoying from a personal standpoint appears to be beneficial from a business standpoint.

      • trego says:

        Are you figuring that they are applying the tiered pricing model that AAA games use (50 bucks for early adopters, then deep discounts 3 months later, to squeeze the most revenue possible out of the game by dropping the price over time to reach a larger audience), but adapted to the F2P model by using a heavier pricing scheme to start and lightening later to be more like CoC? Or are you saying that they have simply erred to begin with and will fix it once they realize it?

        The model would make a lot more sense to me if they would reduce the chest timers by a factor of 3 or so. Even if you are fine with the current gating concept, the numbers they’ve chosen are very long.

        • SynCaine says:

          I guess they already took one step back (going into a match no longer costs gold), and I think they will do more. Right now its just too punishing/slow, while the actual gameplay itself is solid-enough to draw a large crowd ala CoC. I don’t think this is a case of gouging the early crowd, just a pretty major overstep in timers. (And I don’t think the timers are 100% profit-driven, I think part of the reasoning from their side is they want people to play long-term and have long goals. But that balance right now is just terribly off.)

      • trego says:

        those questions were aimed at Syn not myself ~_~

    • SynCaine says:

      It’s making a lot of money right now. I suspect that if they don’t change it (they will), the model will drive people away and ultimately result in less income. I mean, CoC was #1, and it was #1 for basically two years with a very light model, so it’s not like SuperCell had something that needed fixing. You can also look at LoL and again see that a light model results in insane income, while I can’t think of a single real heavy F2P model game that long-term has done well.

      • tithian says:

        There is an inherent risk of it blowing up in their face, but if it doesn’t the payoff will be huge, multiple of what CoC pulls. I’m willing to bet they know their market and feel that the people they piss off will provide far fewer losses than the whales they will attract.

  5. Saate says:

    Have been playing for a while now since it was in the Aussie app store for a few months first. I’m level 8 (around 1000/5000) and Arena 6 for those of you already playing.

    One thing I think Supercell deserves a lot of credit for is how well the realtime matchups work. That matchfinding and lack of lag is so smooth that when I played my first couple of matches against another person I wasnt actually 100% certain that it wasnt a computer opponent.

    I was initially disappointed at relatively small number of cards available, but I think that was before I realised the gameplay is drastically different to other popular turn-based card games. The variety and function of the cards and the impact they can have on your 8-card deck is pretty huge and allows for a lot of playstyles and experimenting.

    The single most fascinating thing about this game for me, though, is how effective it is at goading me into crankiness in close matches that I lose. I’m a very relaxed guy and my approach to gaming is always strategic/logical/considered – but you should see me take the bait and get frustrated when I lose and my opponent spams the ‘thumbs up’ emote! Fascinating! :p

  6. pkudude99 says:

    My only real complaint right now is the length of the chest timers. At 1st with only a few card types the battles didn’t do much for me either, but now I’ve got a few cards under my belt and have been experimenting with them in battles and it’s growing on me.

Comments are closed.