Why Squad Busters’ global launch is such a big thing for Supercell

Supercell has never been shy about axing underperforming games

Why Squad Busters’ global launch is such a big thing for Supercell
  • Squad Busters is Supercell's first game in five years to reach a global launch
  • Why is that, and what makes the game so big for the Finnish super-giant?
  • Let's find out

Supercell is set to release its first game globally in five years since the launch of 2018’s Brawl Stars. The game, Squad Busters, is hard to describe but it’s a sort of mixture of RTS and MOBA, where you collect characters from across the Cellverse and form your own squad to battle it out with others in quick, four-minute matches.

It certainly looks to be a fun game but you may be confused as to why so many people writing about it seem to be so shocked at its sudden release.

Well, first of all, there’s how fast it’s happened. Squad Busters started its first beta test right at the end of last year and the game was only announced to be hitting soft-launch very recently. But at the end of May this year it’ll be hitting phones globally on iOS and Android!

But it’s a lot bigger than just a sudden launch, so let’s give you a bit of background that you might understand what’s so important about Squad Buster’s sudden release.

A group of Supercell characters facing off

Squad Busters brings together characters from across the Cellverse

Supercell’s super plan

The most important thing to understand is what Supercell’s development strategy is. Which can be summed up pretty quickly as ‘have a lot of irons in the fire’. At any one time, multiple games are in development or soft-launch at Supercell, many of which will even see players go hands-on in multiple regions but equally as many tend to get shelved.

As a rule of thumb, if a game isn’t on track to make $1bn in revenue, Supercell is likely to shelve it.

This tactic has both impressed business analysts and concerned many players as it seems that Supercell is incredibly mercenary in their approach to games. But, when you look into it, the method behind the madness becomes a lot clearer.

The Supercell hit list

To give you some context, here are all the games that Supercell has put into soft-launch and axed since they released Clash of Clans:

  • Spooky Pop (2014)
  • Smash Lands (2015)
  • Rush Wars (2019)
  • Hay Day Pop (2020)
  • Clash Quest (2021)
  • Clash Mini (2021)
  • Everdale (2021)
  • Boom Beach: Frontlines (2022)
  • Flood Rush (2023)

Beginning to get the picture? While you can say what you want from an artistic point of view, Supercell does deserve some credit for taking a more pragmatic approach. Their titular ‘cells’ typically work on a number of games at once, meaning teams aren’t necessarily axed when the game is, they’re just shunted onto other projects. In this way, the constant development, launch and then release or axe cycle is core to what Supercell as a company is.

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Why does this make Supercell stand out?

Not to overly give Supercell their flowers, but this strategy does make them stand out in general. For mobile gaming, a lot of companies focus on quantity ahead of quality, casting a wide net to capture as wide an audience as possible.

Just look at Square Enix; just last year the famous Japanese developer axed: Fullmetal Alchemist Mobile, SinoAlice, Just Cause Mobile, Echoes of Mana and Bravely Default Brilliant Lights, nearly as many games in 12 months as Supercell has in years.

So when you make that comparison, the picture starts to seem a bit clearer. Especially since the games above all hit ‘official’ release, only to then get shuttered - in some cases less than a year later.

So why is Squad Busters a stand-out?

Well, for one, the fact that it’s hitting global launch is what makes Squad Busters stand out. The game is the first in five years, since Brawl Stars, to make it to a global launch, and this is only a year after it was announced in 2023.

A screenshot from the Supercell game Squad Busters.

Supercell accredits this to overwhelmingly positive feedback from players. Part of that may be genuine, part of it may be that Supercell fanatics are wise to their favourite developer’s habits and are ensuring their voices are heard so that Squad Busters doesn’t go the way of Flood Rush.

So what can we expect?

The cover art for Squad Busters

So right now, Squad Buster’s future seems a lot firmer than many other Supercell games in the past. Does this mean it’ll never be axed? Not necessarily but it would be an unprecedented move from Supercell, and no doubt there was a great deal of debate as to whether to let Squad Busters loose on the world. Ultimately, the decision was yes, and Supercell will have to own it.

Supercell has also expressed that they may be interested in bringing non-Supercell characters to Squad Busters. Already the game has the ‘crossover-mania’ bit down pat, with plenty of familiar faces for fans of Supercell’s games popping up. But the potential to add other characters opens up a whole host of options for crossovers with other famous mobile properties.

So for the moment, Squad Busters is a stand-out in terms of Supercell’s back catalogue. Is it going to hold on and become their next $1bn ‘unicorn’, or will the developer have to eat humble pie on a never-before-seen scale? We’ll just have to wait and see!

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Iwan Morris
Iwan Morris
Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who joined the Pocket Gamer Biz site fresh-faced from University before moving to the Pocketgamer.com editorial team in November of 2023.