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Major Game Devs Set Up Fake Company To Launch New Game – Kotaku

Everdale promo image

Image: Supercell

What do you do if you’re a developer so incredibly famous for one particular game, and you want to release something completely different? If you’re Supercell, the creators of mobile phenomenon Clash Of Clans, you create an entirely fake developer and soft-launch your new product under a fake name.

Everdale, officially announced yesterday as the new game from Supercell, has in fact been around since fall last year, under the blandly generic name Valleys & Villages. The free-to-download building game is focused around peaceful cooperation, putting ten players together to build their own villages within a larger valley, then trading resources, going on adventures, and forming a “Valley Guild”. The big emphasis for Everdale is on benevolence, teamwork, and the complete absence of conflict. Which, it’s fair to say, rather distinguishes it from Clash Of Clans.

It’s not, of course, the studio’s first peaceful game. In the same summer as CoC’s release in 2012, they also put out a game inspired by Farmville called Hay Day, which itself went on to amass millions of dollars for the Finnish developers. However, in the almost-decade since then, their games have been very much combat focused, with Boom Beach, Clash Royale, Brawl Stars and Clash Quest. It’s worth noting that for each of them, and indeed many abandoned projects, each was released first via a “soft-launch” in order to garner player feedback before releasing proper—something that’s pretty common in the mobile space.

Seemingly when it came to putting out something quite so different, Supercell worried this might prove trickier with their cultivated playerbase. (We’ve reached out to Supercell to ask about their motivations and experience, and will update should they reply.)

Under the name Osmium Interactive, Valleys & Villages was selectively released around the world on mobile devices, such that the developers could do all that player data scrutinization, noticing how the game was being played, or indeed not being played, and able to make all the tweaks and changes necessary to get the game as clicky and hooky as possible. Oh, and presumably listening to reviews posted to the stores.

Games soft-launched under their real names often end up with quite a hangover when it comes to their final release, stores smothered in potentially negative reviews of an unfinished version of the game. Launching with a new title on a new page certainly wipes the slate clean, once the earliest hiccups and issues are ironed out. While not a common tactic, this type of soft launch does happen from time to time in mobile game development. Supercell is just one of the bigger companies to do it recently.

Of course, this all comes with some risks as well. Not having their brand behind them must have surely made things nerve-wracking in terms of being sure to get enough players noticing their game. Still, it had over 50,000 installs and 900 reviews on Android alone, so clearly managed fine. Those reviews trended very positively, and it’s getting an even warmer reception via its official release.

It’s certainly an interesting approach to launching something brand new, avoiding issues of reputation—albeit a primarily positive one.

 

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