Supercell’s Clash Mini Softlaunch – Big Update review

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This article was written by Jakub Remiar & Matej Lancaric!

Sooo this game was sitting in the soft-launch for a while! A new game to be killed. Potentially. You never know with Supercell.

Quite a different approach than the closed betas they had before. Let’s talk about the softlaunch a bit more now.

Clash mini

Supercell released another update, which seems to be the last one in the series of radical updates that dramatically changed the whole game. Clash Mini is an auto chess battler, which underwent the typical Supercell transformation – take something that works and perfect it on the mobile first mass-market approach. The big challenge is that autochess games don’t have a power progression as players having equal chances to win is one of the main principles of the game. Despite that, Supercell initially went with a stat-based power progression with upgradable heroes as seen on the image below.

Now they changed it to the image on the right side, which is a completely cosmetic-based progression, where there are no upgradable stats outside of core gameplay. You can “refine” units and heroes, but this only unlocks more emotes for specific units and increases your collection level, which unlocks more units in a semi-random manner. This feels very approachable and smooth in the early game. Units are put into different rarity pools, and once your collection level increases you get a chance of getting a new unit. The whole experience is like “on-rails” ; everything seems pre-planned. You would ask where is the monetization then? This is the part where this setup gets tricky. 

Because there is no stat progression, and no shard upgrades there weren’t many standard-like solutions for this metagame. So the answer is directly locking units behind unit gachas. After Supercell removed loot boxes from Brawl Stars this seems like a feature from a different company. As you see on the image of the unit collection, some of those units have the Special Units stamp, which means they are only obtainable from the Toy Machine gachas.

As seen, there are just 2 units in this gacha. The chances of getting the units are very low and all the other gacha components are just soft currency and unit cosmetic currency. This creates a very unrewarding gacha experience, where you literally need to rely on guarantee, otherwise you won’t get anything useful. This heavily lowers the granularity of “small legendaries” that Supercell always used, where in their signature shard gacha, you would get shards of even the rarest units often, because you would need a lot of these shards to actually upgrade them. Here we have a binary situation where we either spent literally 60+ dollars for a single unit or you won’t ever have it.

And these units are really significant in the PvP metagame compositions, so it’s literally like playing chess without some of the key pieces. As I was playing through the trophy road this became more and more obvious, as my F2P deck was hitting its limit quite soon. This can be even more visible on the game’s reddit, where players are complaining about decks being too overpowered, mainly driven by these “special” units.

The other parts of the progression, such as battle pass, quest challenges and events work quite nicely to complement the “on-rails” experience. The limiting factor is again the keys for the special units gachas, which come in very limited quantities. For instance it would take you literally 6 years as a free to play player to get a gacha guarantee for the highest rarity special unit.

The graphics are amazing and the whole ergonomy UI design is really top-notch, up to Supercell‘s usual standards. It is also important to note that this game could be a continuation of the previously long before announced Clash Heroes, which looked really similar. Lately, we have seen multiple games without the “Clash” universe, such as Everdale, Flood Rush,

Soft launch

We just discussed the whole strategy in our latest podcast:

Anyway, let’s get back to Supercell’s soft launch formula. When we compare Squad Busters with Floodrush and Clash mini – Well, Floodrush was already killed, but Squad Busters still remained in the “darkness”. All in all, open beta didn’t work for Floodrush, but closed beta did work for Squad Busters. Judging only from the point of the killing! Let’s take a step back and look at what is possible on Android for soft launching your game.

In Pre-Launch, you move gradually from one test to another, from Tech to Engagement, Monetization to Soft Launch testing.

  • In each step, you have benchmarks for specific KPIs that help you understand if the game shows potential
  • If the game is underperforming, you have the opportunity to improve and continue testing

Different Pre-Launch tracks to help developers test and optimize games before releasing globally.

  • Each track has its own benefits and limitations, and you can easily control them in the Play Console
  • The main idea behind these tracks is to help you test and optimize the game in a safe environment

The CLOSED BETA we saw with Squad Busters is one of our most used features for testing mobile games, especially for bigger game developers or those who work with a big IP. This track:

  • Allows developers to test their new game with an INVITE-ONLY COMMUNITY of users (emails/100K or google groups/unlimited)
  • And these users are able to provide private feedback to developers both before and after the launch

Important: Although this track is commonly used by developers, they usually also use the other tracks such as Open Beta and Limited Production, in order to get more users & data and decrease the risk of issues during global launch.

Please pay attention again to words – bigger game developers, big IP!!!!

An extremely popular track is a more public track, called OPEN BETA (Unreleased in the store).

  • A game in open beta is publicly discoverable in-store – Users can find & install your game directly from your store listing (no invite needed).
  • But while you can distribute your game to entire markets like in Production Track users CANNOT leave public ratings or reviews (IMPORTANT)
  • Another advantage is install capping for each market!

Usage:

  • This track is very popular to test (1) Tech Performance, (2) Engagement and (3) Monetization. Usually in a mix of GEOs such as the Philippines and Nordics/Poland, United Kingdom/Germany, etc .. 
  • At this stage, you can also use user acquisition to direct users to the store listing!

Soft launch timeline

User Acquisition

Guess what?! There is actually UA going on. It’s quite basic for now: Facebook & Google. They run a few more ad networks in the past, but its down to the big two.I think they are running only 3 videos with few different cuts. Let’s look into it.

Regarding the visual style, oh my fucking god. The game just looks great but is also quite close to hyper/hybrid casual! I could already see the high CPIs though LOL!

Our Clash Mini rating:

Chance for a global launch

30%

Player experience 

7.5/10

Game design

7.5/10

What do you think?

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Supercell’s Clash Mini Softlaunch – Big Update review

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