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Building communities that empower - Ryan Lighton (Supercell)

Ryan Lighton, the Community Lead at Supercell, shares incredible insight into how Supercell builds their community and culture, the symbiotic relationship they have with their players, and how they empower creators to make a living out of their passion.

Ryan Lighton is the Community Lead at Supercell, one of the most successful game developers worldwide, that released some of the most widely played games in the past decade including Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, and Brawl Stars. He is a true gaming community pro, partly because of the community he runs and partly because he started as a player himself. He is one of the most loved community folks on the internet, with tons of fandom around him.

In our conversation, he shares his unique personal journey, and incredible insight into how Supercell builds their community and culture, the symbiotic relationship they have with their players, and how they empower creators to make a living out of their passion. The work that Ryan and his team are doing is truly next level. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!

⭐️ Highlights and key learnings: 

  • Hire brilliant people and empower them to do what they do best 
  • Ask your teams if they are proud of their work as a measure of success 
  • Build a symbiotic relationship with your community and creators 
  • The community team should act as the voice of your customers 
  • Supercell’s creator program empowers amazing creators to make a living out of their passion 
  • Be open and honest with your community, and have fun
  • The importance of identifying, empowering and celebrating your core community members

👋 Connect with Ryan Lighton

👋 Connect with Ivana Istochka

🎙️ Subscribe to the podcast to learn more about passionate, community-led companies.

📢 We hope you enjoyed the show! In the spirit of communities, we would greatly appreciate it if you shared our podcast with one friend who you think will love it as well.

Ivana: Ryan, according to the internet, you're one of the most favorite and friendly community people. There's a lot of fandom around you, so I found tributes for you on YouTube. I found reddit groups with your name, there was a petition on change.org address to you, hundreds of gifts, tons of videos. So I'm really curious to know, how did it feel to become a public figure and how did it feel to have all these people caring about you online?

Ryan: Thank you for the very kind words. It felt weird. It's different being a public figure and having so many people know who I am and have all these sort of expectations of me and are excited to see me when I come talk about stuff. It's scary but fun and wonderful. And almost every single person out there is really happy and comes with great intentions. So it's been fantastic and it makes my job a lot more fun and a lot easier to be able to interact with people when they're very friendly and nice online. And it makes me want to say more and be with them more. So it's great. It's absolutely fantastic.

Ivana: What has been the most interesting or surprising thing you saw about yourself online?

Ryan: Oh my gosh, so many things. I mean, the fan art was hilarious. I've seen fan fiction stories about me falling in love with different people that was very interesting to read. I've seen great art that turned me into random animals and comic strips that have me in all these incredible situations. I think the one that sticks out in my mind the most is when someone had gone through all of the developer update videos we've made and mashed them together to make it almost into a music video by cutting up the words that I've said and connecting them together. It was so creative and hilarious. I still have that saved in my favorites.Ivana: I love that. I didn't see that one, but I'm definitely checking it out right away after. So before we go into communities and what you do at Supercell, I was curious to know what does community mean to you?

Ryan: Community, to me it specifically means a group of people that has a shared interest. It's pretty broad. It can mean very many things depending on the context in which we're talking about it. But for gaming, it usually means a group of people who are interested in a game. And that's wonderful because I've been a gamer my whole life and I was gaming before there was internet, so we didn't really have too many communities around games. The closest I could find were magazines that I have a subscription to which gave me the cheat codes. But now we can go online and find thousands and thousands of people who are into the same hobby that I am and even more so beyond games, you can find a community of people that are into anything. Like, you can find a group of people who want to go dressed as Stormtroopers and have a picnic in the park. Like anything you can imagine, you will find a community online where that's their thing and they want to go do it with you and talk about it with you.

Ivana: Yeah, you're absolutely right. Nowadays it's easy to find your people in your corner of the Internet. Gaming communities are super awesome and they're one of the most passionate ones out there. And there are so many gaming communities, there is so much content. What makes gaming communities so unique and powerful?

Ryan: I think there are quite a few things. I think games tell stories often that are really interesting and we can connect through the story. Games are also interactive, so everyone's game is their own, their character, their account. Whatever they've unlocked, it feels like it's a part of them. So people can connect together through that experience. Much of the other media we consume, movies or TV shows or books, are kind of onesided. You experience whatever it is the author or the creator has given you, and that's it. But games are two ways. You experience them both with the developer and the creator, but also you experience them with the people around you. Whether it's competitive or whether it's storytelling, you experience it together. And I think that really helps jumpstart the community because there's so much more to talk about because everyone's experience will be different.

Ivana: Absolutely. So Supercell is one of the biggest gaming companies worldwide and your games are loved and played by millions. Before we go into the details, to put things into perspective, can you please share a number that can help us understand the size of your business? For example, how many players are playing your games?

Ryan: Yeah, so I think for all of our games combined, the last number we shared was 100 million daily active users, which is an astronomical number. It's almost very difficult for me to even comprehend how many players that is, but it's huge. It's larger than most cities, it's as large as some countries, and all these players are playing Supercell games all the time. And that makes my job so much more fun because there's a lot more people to talk to.

Ivana: Okay, that's super interesting. And your job is definitely very fun and definitely different from a lot of different jobs. What I really like about your job is that there is no conventional way of getting into this role. And your career path is pretty unconventional because you're a lawyer turned community lead in a gaming company. So can you tell me a little bit about yourself? What was your journey and how did you end up doing what you do?

Ryan: Yeah, my journey was a very weird, nontraditional one. Like I said, I've been a gamer my whole life. I've played games as long as I can remember and  I've been online inside communities, whether it's a reddit community or Twitter or wherever, just interacting with the games that I've played, and that includes Clash of Clans. I was a moderator on the Clash of Clans subreddit way back when, and of course, I played Classical Clan since it came out way in the early days. I was going about my life. I was going to have a normal career path. I went to college, I went to law school, I took the bar exam. And in law school, all of my friends made fun of me because I was playing Clash of Clans under the desk while learning about constitutional law or whatever it was I was supposed to be learning. So I got poked fun of a little bit for that. But I ended up taking the bar exam, started applying for law jobs as anyone normally would. There's this period between when you take the bar exam and when you become a lawyer that you're kind of in limbo. You're not quite working at a law firm yet, and you're kind of looking for jobs. And I saw that Supercell had a position open. I didn't really think much of it, and like I said, I've been playing the game for many years and active in their online communities. So I got invited to an event that was happening out here in Helsinki, and I met a bunch of people from Supercell. I was talking with all of them about how they got into the industry, and I wanted to do video game law, so I was very curious about this stuff, and after talking with them for a while, one of them ended up giving me a business card of someone from recruiting. I didn't think much of it, traveled back home and I thought, you know what, what the heck, I'll apply for this job. I'm not doing much else right now, so I'll just give it a shot. The only job I applied to that was not law. And right before I took the flight to Helsinki for my interviews, I checked on my bar exam, and it turns out I passed. So the whole flight over here and back, I was thinking, what the heck am I going to do with my life? How will I explain it to my parents? I've just been three years, and most of my educational career focused on this, and now I'm interviewing for a gaming job in Finland. Anyway, I come out to Finland, I meet everyone in Supercell, I interview, and it's fantastic. The people are wonderful, the environment is incredible, everybody is a gamer, everybody has my shared interests. And I think on the plane ride back, well, I hadn't gotten the job yet, but at least I had already made up my mind and I got back home and they offered me the job and I took it. And here I am. Not worked a day in my life as a lawyer but I am a lawyer, and now I've lived in Finland for about seven years. I've worked on a few games since then at Supercell, and today I'm the community lead. So I'm working across all games now and helping my team of community managers who are each embedded in the game teams. And it's been incredible. I have no regrets, and the only time I'm looking back at my decisions is to think, oh, man, that was a close one. I'm really glad that I made this call.

Ivana: I love that. So you've been a player, a community moderator, a community manager, a community lead. So you really took all the different roles from player to leading the teams. So you have all the insights. Is there anything you learn in law school that you apply daily in your community role out of curiosity?

Ryan: Absolutely. I mean, there were tons of skills that I learned in law school that are applicable. I think the most important ones are being thoughtful and careful about the words that you say and the way that you say them and how you write them. In law, of course, for example, if you're writing an agreement or if you're arguing in court or whatever you're doing, it's really critical that you say the right thing exactly as you mean it. It's very important that you do that. And the same thing is important for gaming communities. We, as community managers, need to be the main kind of source of truth for our players when we tell them about updates, good news, bad news, delays, balance changes, whatever it is, we need to be clear and concise and be able to be understood across many different languages, regions of the world, people from different perspectives. So it's crucial that we're really clear with what we're talking about.

Ivana: I can see that when I listen to your interviews and videos, and even now, that's fantastic. Okay, so you mentioned that your teams are embedded in each of the keen teams. Can you tell me, what does it mean to be a community lead at Supercell, and what are the responsibilities of your team and how do you work with other teams?

Ryan: Yeah, so at Supercell, the way we view community and in fact, most roles, is that we have the experts kind of entrusted to make their own decisions. So we hire absolutely brilliant people, and my job is just to empower them to do what they need to do. I try to remove obstacles. I try to get things out of their way. I'm not a lead who is kind of instructing or giving directions too much. It's more asking my team what they need to get stuff done. In fact, rarely do I talk with my team about kind of performance or in a way that I'm like, checking their work and giving them tips on that more. So the team works together and helps be critical and give feedback to each other and my job is to facilitate and to remove roadblocks and help them achieve what they need to. 

Ivana: There is a lot of power in trust and freedom.

Ryan: Yeah, totally. And I think being given that trust and freedom myself when I was on a game team, it really inspires me. It makes me want to do more. When you take away the roadblocks and the walls and the stoppers from people and let them think, like I can really do whatever I think is right, that's both terrifying and empowering and it makes you do cool, crazy things and it also makes you a bit more responsible in your own work. You are maybe a bit more thoughtful about what you're doing, thoughtful about the risks you're taking and broadly just makes you feel much better at doing your work.

Ivana: I absolutely agree with this. Can you tell me what are the main goals of your team? How do you measure success?

Ryan: That is a really good question and in fact, when I'm interviewing people who want to join our community team, one of the things I asked them is, what are the KPIs for community? How do you define success on community?

It's a really hard question and we ask ourselves that all the time. Broadly speaking, we can look at stuff like subscribers and viewership and engagement, but generally, if our games are successful, people talk about them more, they watch more content about them and the sentiment is happier. So it's a bit chicken and egg. We try not to define ourselves strictly based on those metrics because it can kind of be misleading. As to the actual work we're doing, mainly I'm asking my team, are they proud of the work that they're doing? Do they feel like it's engaging, exciting and fun? We genuinely want to provide the best stuff for our communities because the more fun stuff we give to them, the more they engage with us, talk to us, the bigger the community gets. So mostly we're forming our own quality bar and just trying to make good stuff. Some years ago, we used to look at a calendar that we would use for community management and think, okay, so there's seven days in a week we want to fill up five out of seven, let's put posts here and think of stuff and let's do a meme or let's do fan art or let's do something. And then we kind of realized that that wasn't producing great stuff, we were just filling up a calendar. So instead we got rid of that kind of expectation that we made for ourselves and thought, let's only post stuff when we have really great stuff that we want to post. So kind of reversing that thinking. And instead of filling up a calendar because there are spaces in it, we tried to focus on making great content and then fitting it in the calendar. 

Ivana: Right, and what is the main business impact for example, that you try to achieve every year.

Ryan: I think the main thing, if we had to pick a KPI, it would be trying to retain our players. So making sure that those who are playing the games are enjoying it, they're sticking with it. And for us, it's really building a world outside of the phone. So, of course our games are on mobile phones and we try to build a world outside of just that game, whether it's on Twitter or Facebook or YouTube or Instagram or TikTok or whatever it is. We want to give more places for players to engage with the game outside of the game itself.

Ivana: Right. This is very tightly related to the mission of Supercell, which is to create games that are played for years and remembered forever. And personally, I love this mission, or let's say dream, and this obsession with long term vision and retention. So how does this mission reflect in your community strategy? 

Ryan: Yeah, I think it reflects directly and I mean, this is partly the Remembered forever part. I mean, like I said, I was a classic Plans player and then I started following on Reddit and now I moved to Finland and I've worked here for seven years. So I will remember Supercell forever, probably more than most of our players. But it's this making the games more of a part of your life and having them connect with you in ways beyond just the game itself. There are many brands across social media that I've never bought a single thing from, but that I follow and laugh at because the brands are hilarious and engaging and fun. I can think of Duolingo and Ryanair and Wendy's and many others that, well, I have bought Wendy's, I have bought some of these, but that are just hilarious just because of the brand's sake. And that's something that we also strive for on our team, is, can we be bigger than the games? It's a bit of a challenge. We present to ourselves that of course, the games come first and they're the main thing we're here for, but we almost want to challenge them on social media and see if our videos or our tweets or whatever it is can outperform even the game content.

Ivana: Right. I actually really enjoy your content online. And this leads me to another question, because I was looking at your gaming content and I see that Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, Heyday Brawl, Stars, they all seem to have different audiences and the communities seem to be a bit different. How are these communities different from each other and how is your approach very different for each one of them, both on social media and in general? 

Ryan: Yeah, they are all quite different. And that is a challenge for us because we don't know who we're talking to. I mean, we see some profiles on Twitter and we just see views on YouTube, but we don't know who the audience is. We do research to learn that. But especially when a game launches, it is a complete black box and we have to guess. It's really hard and we figure it out as time goes by. We know that Brawl Stars skews a little bit younger, classic plans in heyday, skew a little bit older and we adjust a little bit to kind of speak to those audiences in the way they want to be spoken to. Brawl Stars, for example, is a lot more mimi. They like fan art. And specifically, I can talk about our developer videos where in Brawl Stars we try to focus on being faster, more cuts, speedier gets to the point really quick, skip past kind of the technical, maybe more advanced info and just get the hits out and make a short snappy video that gets the point across really well. 

Ivana: Right. Something that I find very fascinating about gaming communities is that, okay, first of all, the gaming market is huge and it's expanding, right? So there are 3 billion people playing games online and this is growing very rapidly. So the way to win in this market means that you have to be incredibly good at marketing and community because you need to build the best game for the best and most passionate gamers. Can you talk a bit about how community shapes the development of your games? Because so far we've been talking about the content you guys have been producing for the community. But I'm interested to hear how does it work the other way around? How does the community influence you guys? 

Ryan: Yeah, the community influences our game development every single day. Our community managers are embedded in the game teams. They're part of the game teams. When we talk about the Clash of Clans team, that includes Darian and Adrian. When we talk about the Brawl Stars team, that includes Danny and Paula and me back in the day. And so we are on the community team, of course, reading as much as we can and watching as much as we can. We talk to creators, we talk to players, we learn everything. And I think one of the most important parts of our job is keeping a pulse on the community and being able to know and predict how they will react to changes. So that when the game team is developing stuff, the community team is a fairly loud voice in kind of trying to predict and guide the game team towards something the players will like. It's, of course, a guessing game and we're not perfect and we have to remind the game team that we don't have a crystal ball. But our greatest hope is that when we're developing something and we're deciding, like, okay, how do we do this? Is it A or B? Do we balance it this way or that way? Does the meta work like this or like that? The community team will chime in and say, from our best guess, here's how the community would react to this, and then we can make an educated decision on the game team. And that happens with so many decisions. And at Supercell, we're lucky enough that most of the game team are reading Reddit, they're reading Twitter, they're reading all the things, so they also know this stuff. And as a community manager, our job is just to use our expertise to try and decide how to predict which way the community will go. It does take a bit of a trained eye to look at the community because we're remembering that people on Twitter and YouTube and Reddit and everywhere else combined are like a small percent of our total players. So we need to have the lens to say, okay, these platforms are saying this, which means the broader community, the ones that aren't talking are probably saying this, right?

Ivana: My friends in gaming often share that the most passionate players know more about the game than the teams developing it. So I'm curious, are there any stories of your community helping your teams develop some new tactics or playing styles or give you some suggestions that they haven't normally thought about?

Ryan: Absolutely, and I 100% agree with that. In fact, just a fun short anecdote, way back in the day when Clash of Clans had first come out, there was a question that we were wondering, like, do we make YouTube videos, strategy videos on how to play our games? Should we make them or should we kind of rely on the community to make them? Thought about this for a while and the answer was no, we shouldn't really make them. And the reason was the community would very quickly find a better strategy, a quicker strategy, something more efficient, instantly within a day or two. And our developers can't keep up with our players. If our players went against, there's a reason we're not competing in the World Finals, and it's not because of a conflict of interest. It's because our players are better than us at our games. We have tons of ways where we're using both players and creators to help us polish updates and bounce ideas off of. Oftentimes when we have bigger changes, like meta changes or big updates, we'll grab a group of creators, YouTubers or whatever, and talk them through it and get their thoughts for a couple of reasons. One is that they are also gamers. This is also their business and their job. They also play mobile games beyond Supercell. So they're really good at giving feedback, but also because they don't really have the bias that we have of being inside Supercell. If we're doing a big meta change, we've been staring at this and grueling over it for weeks and weeks and weeks, and you kind of like lose your objectivity a little bit. If you can show a creator who's never seen it before, they might instantly be like, no, this is dumb. Here's why. And they'll very quick know, here's the way to go, here's how the community reacts. And here's my suggestion for balance changes.

Ivana: Right? I can totally identify with that. And I find it really awesome how much the gaming companies are listening to their communities. Because Community is all about building things with people, not for people. So what you said, for me, it's a clear proof that you guys are doing that. So okay, now that we are on the topic of Creators, I find this topic quite interesting because Creators play a very big role in the gamer community and slowly we are all turning into Creators. I mean, we're recording this podcast and you know better than me how it used to create tons of content online. So how has your relationship with Creators changed over the years?

Ryan: Yeah, like I mentioned before, we've always had a really close relationship with Creators back in the day. And I'm thinking maybe five, six, seven plus years ago, we've had just a small chat group with a close knit group of creators, primarily YouTubers that we talk to, and we gave them some dev bills. They can make content about updates. We realized and have always realized how important they were to us. So we've built out this small group into a fully fledged Creator program. So we have upwards of 20 Creators in this program now where we're giving various rewards and incentives to help make content about our games. And we really view our relationship with Creators as symbiotic. We want them to succeed. We want eyeballs on our games, we want their channels to grow. We want people to watch their channels so that they can turn into full time YouTubers and achieve their dreams there. It's really something that we succeed together in with Creators. I think the only thing that has changed over time is a renewed sense of confidence in us, of how important Creators are every year when Community Team sits down and thinks of our goals for the year, creators are in the top three goals every time. They're such a cornerstone of what we're doing because no matter how great we are at our jobs and how successful our channels are that we run, there are thousands of Creators out there and they absolutely dwarf us in terms of viewership or subscribers or numbers or any kind of metric you can have. They have way more of it than we ever will. And we don't really view them as like someone to compete with, but instead someone to empower. Because at the end of the day, we don't care where players are watching, if they're watching any of our creators, if they're watching our channels. Both are fantastic because it's growing their love for the games.

Ivana: Right? You said that you're looking at Creators as someone who empower. And I think this is very powerful and valuable because at the end of the day, in every community, you need leaders who will fuel this interaction between members. The community team cannot do everything and cannot interact with everyone because at the end of the day, that wouldn't be a community after all. So how do you empower the creators to work together with you and to just do what they do?

Ryan: Yeah, that's something we talk about all the time. We've recently formed a creator team within Supercell that is focused on just this. We have many things in the program where, well, I guess zooming back. We ask them, how can we empower them? We ask them for feedback every time. I think the most important moments for them are with updates. That's when key new information comes out. So we try to give them as much of this information as possible. Typically, they're the first ones that will show any player what the gameplay of a new update will look like. We give them that footage so that if players want to see an update early, they know I got to go to the creators because they've got the information. We also try to empower them to. One of our goals is that we can help them get to a fulltime creator if that's what they want. So we've built out an affiliate program within our creator program where they get a revenue share based on spending from our players that will help them kind of feel more secure making the jump to full time because it's scary. Quitting your job and going to work for gaming. I've done it. It's scary. You never know they want to make that as comfortable as possible for them.

Ivana: Of course, I think it's super awesome that you guys are not only empowering them, but giving them the opportunity to make a career of something they're passionate about and they love. So besides the creators, you must have a lot of different roles in your community, right? You have the casual players, the competitive players. You have the creators. There are people organizing events and so on. Can you tell us a little bit about the different type of community members within your community and what kind of role do they play in your ecosystem?

Ryan: Yeah, I mean, tons. Tons and tons and tons. Everyone is different. I can try to put some categories on the best I can. You do have hardcore players, and I think they're the ones I imagine we're talking to the most on social media. Usually they're the ones interacting with us, commenting to us, reflecting back on how updates have gone or what their wishes are for the next stuff. You also have kind of competitive players, which I would maybe categorize different as hardcore competitive players are coming to our World Finals. They're joining teams, they're competing, and they have their own needs and wants as well. Then you have, of course, group of creators like we've been talking about. These are maybe within hardcore players. Some of them are also competitors. Lots of esports players have their own creators, web channels as well. Then you have sort of maybe like this, I don't want to say casual, but group of players that are following us on our channels, but maybe not commenting, maybe not engaging, maybe they don't typically, but they're watching, they're liking and then they're moving on and that's it. This is a mystery group to us because we know they're there, we know they're engaging with our content. We don't hear anything from them. We know when they like a post or don't like a post, but that's about it. And then of course, you have the largest group, which is players who just play the game and that's about it. This is most people. So from a community team, we really try to keep them in mind because they make up the largest portion of our players. So whenever we're reading comments or reading through feedback anywhere, we try to remember the silent majority there. 

Ivana: Right. I think that's pretty common across all different industries because most of the communities that I work with, 80% of the people are silent observers or people just participating. I'm curious, you said that you have different programs to empower creators. How do you empower these other community members that are also very relevant? 

Ryan: Yes, mainly it is trying to give them a voice and engage with them in any way we can. So we know that most players aren't going to follow us on social media. So we have inboxes in the games, which is probably the lowest bar for them to find us on the community team. And there, we of course make posts, patch notes, balance changes, etc. We try to add as much more engaging content as we can there, whether it's voting for different things, making a fantasy royale team, or anything else that we can see. And that's how we try to lower the threshold for engaging with us as low as we can possibly get it. We want it to be easy for players to find us outside of the game. So whether that's clicking one button to watch a YouTube video, putting something in a quick pop up when the game opens, whatever we can do to make it easy as possible for them to consume content for us.

Ivana: Right. So you mentioned the interactions that the gamers have inside the game. We've been talking about how do you build relationships on social media, how do you build relationships in the game? And needless to say, there are a lot of young people in the gaming community, which means that ensuring that the community is healthy and positive must be a top priority. How do you do this in Supercell?

Ryan: Yeah, so we actually have a team dedicated specifically to this. Not just young players, but they're our trust and safety team and their main prerogative is, I would say, to make sure that young players in our games have a safe, healthy, and happy time. We have various mechanisms within our games to make sure that happens, which is family friendly clans, family friendly chats. We have age gates to make sure that these players are interacting with the right players and the right groups. So we're building this out across all of our titles, everywhere we can to make sure that it's a good experience for them too

Ivana: Communities are all about building relationships, and there are so many stories of people meeting some of their closest friends and even partners in gaming communities. Are there any interesting or inspiring stories to share from your own community?

Ryan: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, we've had players get married, we've had people meet long lost friends through our games, which I thought was incredible. One thing that sticks in my mind is that this might have been for Clash Royale's launch. I can't remember. But I think about five years ago, we had a creative event here in Helsinki and we brought everyone out and it was the middle of winter. So if you've never been to Finland in winter, it's not very bright, it's not very warm, and it's snowy and cold. So we tried our best to make a fun event inside of a cabin, and I think we had a Santa Claus come and do gifts. But what was amazing for me is that one of our creators named Godson actually proposed to his now wife at this event. And that made my heart melt. Not just to see this wonderful couple in love, but that Godson kind of cared so much about Supercell and loved us so much that that was the place he wanted to do it, was at one of our events with us and with the other creators there. That really warmed my heart and sticks with my memories still today.

Ivana: Well, that's amazing. So to lead to the next question, what has been one of the most rewarding experiences that you had working in the community role in Supercell?

Ryan: One of the most rewarding experiences? Man, it's hard to pick one I truly love when I think if I had to pick one, it would be when we launched Brawl Stars. If you weren't there at the time, I can paint a picture for you. One is that Supercell is pretty vicious with our game launches. In other words, we tried lots of beta and we kill many betas. We have a very high threshold for what kind of games will go global. Our mantra is, we want to make games that are played for years and remembered forever, and that's a really high bar. So a lot of games, a lot of betas that we make, are killed. Brawl Stars was in beta for quite a while. I think it was about 18 months. And at this point, the community that we had is thinking, like, what are we doing? What's going on here? We're scared. Give us an answer, Ryan. We got to know, is this global? Are you killing it? What's going to happen? And I really enjoyed this because as a community manager, having them so engaged with you, every post I made was like, global, win win. Global. What's going to happen? When is global? So what I did was kind of we deleted everything off of all of our social media, every platform, every post, every picture. We deleted it and we didn't say anything and we left them to wonder what is going to happen. But they had nowhere to wonder it because we deleted all the posts. So the next day, I posted an image that said, it was just a picture of some characters and it said, we need to talk. So I left it very vague, very scary. And I think, of course, if you've been in the industry and you know how community management works, no same community manager would do that. If they're going to kill the game, that would be a crazy thing to do. But of course, they didn't know and they were nervous in a fun way and they were excited to see what was going to happen. We started a countdown timer on YouTube for 24 hours. And at the end of this countdown, I opened with a quite somber attitude and I was a bit sounding sad and like, I have some news for you and da da da. And then I stood up and screamed, we're going global. And of course, the news was out. It was the best news they could have heard in that moment. There were celebrations literally across the globe. I've seen reaction videos from creators where they were crying, they were excited. And there's nothing better than that when you can have your whole community really excited to hear what you're going to say, waiting for the moment to happen, and then you deliver the exact thing they wanted to hear, the best news possible and everybody's happy. That's the dream. And I will remember that forever.

Ivana: I love that you get me energized even by just hearing you talk. I actually watched some of the videos and there are videos in so many languages, there were people crying. It wasdefinitely very impressive to see. Look, we talked about different areas and aspects of your community, how you do it online, how you do it in game, and how do you ensure a healthy and positive environment. And obviously there is a lot of excitement and passion around your games. Can you talk a little bit about your culture? What is the culture of the Supercell community? And also Supercell is pretty vocal in how much culture means to the company and what type of culture you are building. Can you also relate that to how does the Supercell culture reflect in the community culture.

Ryan: Yeah. So of course, internally, big things for us at Supercell are trust, responsibility, independence. We care about the people we work with. We want a healthy work life balance and healthy work. We want things to be fun. We want our jobs to be fun. We want our communities to be fun. We want our games to be fun. And we try and translate this as best we can to community by being open, honest, and in fact, the only time that I can think of where we're kind of holding back information from our communities is when we're doing it to be exciting and fun. Because we want one of those big cool moments where we say, here's the update, here's all the stuff, here's all the things, and then we get a big yay and wow moment from the communities. Otherwise, we try our best to be as transparent as possible, tell them everything we know, including the challenges. In fact, I can relate again a story from Brawl Stars. At one point early in Brawls development, the game was vertical. Of course, now everyone knows it as being a landscape game, but back then it was portrait and we had to change that. That was a hard conversation because of course, all of our players played in Portrait and they wanted it to be in Portrait because that was their game. And how I approached that was just to have a really open, honest and transparent conversation with the community. I remember one day I saw that it was becoming a bit unhappy after we had made the announcement and people were wondering, why are you doing this? I don't like it. I take it back, change it. And I literally just got up from my desk, I plugged in, headphones on my laptop and with my webcam recorded a video and explained why we're doing it. We don't have enough players playing and we need to have more players playing, otherwise we're going to have to kill this thing. And all of us want the same thing. We want this game to go global. We want it to be successful. We want millions of players. And I just laid it out. I had no script, I just talked. And that was probably the most successful, in my mind, video that we had during Beta. And almost everyone who saw it, got it. So the community kind of flipped from being unhappy, misunderstood, angry, to being understanding on our team because we were all on the same team. All of us wanted this game to go global and it was just, how do we do it? And that really, really helped Shift. And it was through being honest, transparent, clear, and open with them.

Ivana: That is an amazing story. By the way, if anyone listening is looking for a new job, Ryan is always hiring. So if you want to work in a company that has an amazing company and community culture and that has a fun environment to work with...

Ryan: Yes, please come work with me.

Ivana: Communities everywhere nowadays, and companies of all sorts are building it. What could people who run non gaming communities learn from gaming communities?

Ryan: Great question. I think the core philosophies are there. Find and empower your hard core community members. Find them. Give them the tools and the platform they need to grow, whether that's literally sending them a webcam if they need it, to posting them on your social media accounts. Grow with them. So find your ambassadors. Find your creators. Grow with them. Do more celebrating than fixing. I try never to fix an opinion. Opinions can't be fixed, but instead, celebrate the opinions that you want to agree with, and you want to be out there and be real, be open, be transparent. When things are tough, tell them it's tough. Tell them why. Don't hold back and have fun with it.

Ivana: Awesome. And Ryan, I wanted to ask you, what supercell game are you the fondest of? But I feel like it's unfair to make you choose to ask you, what supercell game do you play the most and why?

Ryan: Good question. Yes. It's very hard. It's like picking a favorite child truthfully. It changes, like, every month, and I find that happens with a lot of us in the company. The question we ask is exactly your second version, which is, what are you playing now? A lot of us switch between, we find most of us can't really focus on more than a couple of games at once. Otherwise, we start to miss it. But this month, I'm playing Clash Royale a lot. Last month I was playing Brawl Stars a lot. I'm also starting to get back into Clash of Clans after a bit of a hiatus, so I'm very fluid. I changed a lot. But this month, Clash Royale.

Ivana: Awesome. I also love playing Clash Royalel. And lastly, what is the community that you've been a part of that really changed your life?

Ryan: Wow. Well, of course, the main one that I would say is Clash of Clans. That changed my life more than any community I could ever conceive of. I mean, just being a casual person, reading reddit posts and laughing at memes to then becoming a moderator of that subreddit to coming to Finland for an event, to changing the course of my entire career and life. To come and work for Supercell and have this job and be able to be on this podcast has completely altered the course of my life, and I'm so thankful for that community and just communities in general for that opportunity.

Ivana: Ryan, that's fantastic. Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to me today, and I hope to catch you soon.

Ryan: Thank you so much. It was great to be here.