Technical Designer

Game Design and Review

Improving The Game: Clash Royale

Clash Royale Mobile App

As an avid fan of Clash Royale who has been playing since it's initial release, I started noticing more and more how the decline in playerbase started increasing over time. Clash Royale has a bad issue with supporting gameplay for new players. It's no secret, and many online games suffer from the same fate. The difference is that with only a few steps, Clash Royale can redeem its place as the top downloaded mobile games.




The Overview

Clash Royale is a strategy based card game for all mobile devices.  Players collect cards to create a deck which will fight other players online. If you are new to Clash Royale, or would like a quick reminder of the game you can check out the link here.

Today I will be speaking about a way to improve Clash Royale as a game. A year ago Clash Royale was one of the main mobile games I had ever played. Between classes I would play a game, while eating lunch I would play a game, and I would somehow find time for a game between homework. It was addicting and filled a competitive niche I enjoyed out of games.

But after several months of playing it, my interest in the game decreased and I haven't played it again (until I did for this post of course). Below I’ll be dissecting what Clash Royale does wrong, and find an easy way to improve the game as a whole!


The Bad: Game Modes

In the recent month's Clash Royale has seen a decrease in playerbase. But why the sudden loss of interest? Usually games of this quality take time to depreciate in users, rarely is there one specific moment where a game loses popularity. And you may ask me, "Zach, how do you know the playerbase is dropping? Supercell doesn't release those numbers!" And you would be correct, but it's obvious through playing. I've seen clans upon clans fall apart because people have stopped playing, finding matches takes longer and longer whenever I come back to the game. Though I don't have numbers to support it, any Clash Royale player can feel the decline. The people posting on the official Clash Royale forum would also agree with me, the amount of people playing has been decreasing more and more.


Draft Mode in Clash Royale

Reasons for this loss of interest can include:

  • Lack of interesting game modes

  • Much more difficult to upgrade cards at higher levels

  • Achieving higher levels doesn’t feel good

  • New games modes come and go with time


Today I will be focusing on the lack of game modes in Clash Royale, as I believe it is one of the main reasons why active users have been dropping recently.  


The Fix: Free-For-All

As mobile games start to fall in popularity, there are always a number of people who are incredibly dedicated to the game that decide to keep it afloat.  People who enjoy the game so much they just keep playing no matter how much the player-base falls.  

The Super Smash Brothers: Melee community is great example of this.  Melee came out in 2001, and still one of the most played competitive games around. The dedicated fans keep it alive for the competition, even against Nintendo’s wishes.
Clash Royale has fallen into this, as the only active players are the dedicated ones who enjoy the game immensely. To compensate for that, it is important to create game modes entertaining for a new audience, while keeping the original game mode consistent for those dedicated fans.

My fix for this is a new Free-For-All tournament style, allowing four players to battle each other at the same time in a tournament setting. The tournament consists of 16 players, all of which must put an Epic or Legendary card on the line to enter. The top three winners would win the cards taken to participate in the tournament, while the other players would win various cards to chests. The player who places number one is guaranteed a Free-For-All specific legendary.

Now you may be asking how this changes the popularity of the game, and I am more than happy to explain.

  • New content means returning players

  • New legendaries means returning players, and interest from the dedicated fans

  • A free-for-all game mode is more laid back, allowing for casual players to enjoy themselves

  • New cards for specific games modes that wouldn’t be allowed otherwise

What Clash Royale is missing is more for the average player to have fun with. Their dedicated fans are already happy with the state of the game, but the dedicated fans can only do so much for the company. Adding a separate game mode to help bring in new players while keeping the dedicated fans happy. Recently a 2v2 game mode was added which is a step in the right direction, but isn’t too much different. The game mode is similar to letting the player have double the elixir and cards.

Adding new cards for a new map and game mode will help with bringing new fans in as well. Since these cards would not be available in the main game mode, there is less stress on creating it balanced with every card. New cards are a lot more fun for players, and give players a reason to keep their focus on Clash Royale.

Below are a few images of what I would imagine the Free-For-All map to look like, as well as a key to indicate the pieces of it.

Clash Royale 2v2 Mode

Clash Royale Free-For-All game mode mock-up map.

The Conclusion

Clash Royale is a mobile game created by a studio that knows how to make addicting games. Supercell (the developers of Clash Royale) made an incredibly fun player experience with Clash Royale, but were just a few changes away from having a longer lasting game in the public eye. With a few changes Clash Royale could be back at the top of the charts as the most popular mobile game.

Clash Royale isn't a perfect game by any means, but it understands how to be an addictingly-successful mobile game. Without even thinking about it, you find yourself logging in every few hours to open chests, which are always well worth the wait. Even with its small issues, it's a easy game to pick up and play!

What did you think of the changes I had designed? Can you think of any other changes which could help Clash Royale raise in popularity? Send me your ideas in the comments below, and we can discuss!

-Zach McCormick