Supercell, the end companythat of mobile games like Clash of Clans Y Clash Royale, Created in 2010, it accumulates more than 100 million daily players and its valuation in the market has exceeded 10,000 million dollars since 2016. Ilkka Paananen, founder and first executive of the institution, began picking strawberries on a farm with 14 years and playing Super Mario. Understanding that fruits were not his vocation, he turned at the age of 21 towards a video game development company and there part of his life clicked.
Paananen (Helsinki, 41 years old) received the Gamelab Barcelona 2019 award last week in Barcelona, one of the most important interactive entertainment congresses in Europe, celebrating its 15th anniversary. The organization qualifies him as "one of the most important digital entrepreneurs in the world". In Supercell, the entire team of about 240 employees toast with champagne for each failure (90% of their creations do not go on the market) and the biggest dream, says Paananen, is that their games are remembered forever.
The biggest fear I feel is that over time we stop risking, we stop innovating, we don't fail anymore
Question. How much time passes between a game idea and its placing on the market?
Reply. It can be a year and even three. It depends a lot on the game. Also, at Supercell, we are known for killing many of our creations. We kill nine sets of ten and all at different stages of development, so it is very difficult to give a figure.
P. How do you know that those nine games murdered will they not succeed?
R. I don't think it can be calculated and we don't look at market trends. The team simply enjoys creating their own idea, they will be proud if they are comes to light and now. First we test the game and then we leave it to "real" players. If they don't like it, we just kill it, and blur and new account.
P. What video game are you most proud of?
R. We are proud of all of them. But it is true that I am proud of the fact that four of the five games launched have raised $ 1 billion each. It does not usually happen in the industry. Normally, a company gets it with one but we have managed to repeat the equation several times. We have been very lucky but it also shows that we have excellent teams. I am also proud, and it is very important, of all the games we have set aside and the courage that the programmer has to kill them. It is our culture and every time we kill a game, we celebrate it by opening a bottle of champagne and the whole company joins.
P. It is curious to celebrate their failures …
R. Yes. But obviously it's sad. You have spent one, two or three years creating a game that has become your baby. But we want to form an environment where people feel free to create and take risks. The success of Supercell has been built thanks to all those lessons that come from our failures we celebrate every day.
Professionals of 30 different nationalities work together in our Helsinki office (Finland)
P. What is the biggest dream you would like to fulfill to provide for the successes?
R. We would love people to perceive us as Nintendo. It is an entertainment company founded more than 100 years ago (1889) and this is very rare in our industry. The company has a loyal audience and a very powerful recognition. We want the same thing: that our games are part of the story and are remembered forever.
P. And this goal scares you?
R. The biggest fear I feel is that, over time, we stop risking, stop innovating, stop failing. It would be a very worrying situation. We have to keep pushing the limits of the industry and always go beyond.
P. What is the biggest challenge of this tour?
R. In this industry, almost everything is a matter of talent and creativity. The most difficult thing is to bring the best and create a team whose quality is incomparable. It is also essential and complex to form an environment where professionals love to go, risk and where nothing and nobody cuts their wings.
P. And where are these professionals?
R. One aspect that I love about this world is that today creativity is everywhere. For example, my country is small, far away and few people really know it, but it has been the cradle of great games like angry Birds. In addition, professionals from 30 different nationalities work together in our Helsinki office (Finland).
The video game has the power to bring us together and make us feel that the planet is smaller. And now, more than ever, it is very important
P. In a presentation, he said video games are very good for children. Does it go along the same lines as the multiculturalism you just mentioned?
R. More or less. 10 or 20 years ago, playing video games was a lonely activity. Everyone has that image of a teenager alone in a dark room with his headphones. Today, everyone plays, from young people to older people, boys, girls, women and men. It is a social experience that allows people to keep in touch with people but also discover personalities from around the world. The video game has the power to bring us together and make us feel that the planet is smaller. And now, more than ever, this is very important for everyone, including children.
P. Supercell contributes with We Foundation (aid organization for disadvantaged children and young people in Finland). What was the trigger?
R. It all started when Supercell had a brutal financial success. I felt the responsibility, having been so lucky, to help people who had not had the same fate and probably suffered a very complicated life. We want to offer everyone the opportunity we have had.
We have to keep pushing the limits of the industry and always go beyond
P. What does it mean to win this Gamelab 2019 award?
R. It is an honor. Barcelona is like my second house. I have spent a lot of time in this city because my old company had a studio here. In addition, I greatly admire the character and talent of its people. But this award is not my achievement but rather that of my entire team because without them none of this would have happened.
P. About four years ago he said that Korea had the most passionate players in the world. And in Spain, how are they?
R. (Laughter) The Spaniards are very passionate in everything they do, whether in football or in video games! You are excellent and passionate players. (Laughs)
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