Clash of Clans Anniversary Inspires Fake Game History

Do you remember Clash-mania? Those days in the 1980s when the video game Clash of Clans became the greatest pop-cultural phenomenon the world had ever seen, adorning the main character, the Barbarian, magazine covers, cereal boxes and an action figure? A new short documentary tells the fascinating story of the game’s 40-year history, its dramatic rise, crushing fall and subsequent rebirth.

Except, you know, the whole thing is fake.

Today is truly the 10th anniversary of mobile gaming juggernaut Clash of Clans, but its parent company, Supercell, thought it would be fun to envision a world where Clash came of age in the time of Pac-Man and Mario. Created with advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy, Clash From The Past traces the game’s (fictional) origins from three teenagers in a Finnish basement to a cultural blockbuster. It’s a fun and elaborate joke that manages to portray how gaming’s pop culture has evolved over the decades.

40 years ago it was an arcade game in a basement. Today millions of people play it worldwide. This is Clash from the past.

— Clash of Clans (@ClashofClans) July 27, 2022

Michael Gurman, the creative leader of the Supercell brand, says the company talks a lot internally about trying to do things that only they would do.

“I think a lot of video game companies would celebrate their history, be proud of it, and use it as an opportunity to pat themselves on the back a little bit about their actual achievements,” Gurman says. “We have a history where we were a little naughty, never took ourselves too seriously, so we loved how this would take the 10-year anniversary and not talk about our actual history at all. We thought it would be a lot of fun to give our fans an extra 30 years of history that didn’t exist.”

In reality, Supercell Clash launched on this day in 2012, and it came pretty close to the phenomenal heights joked about in the fake document. It has been downloaded more than 3 billion times, was a Top 5 App Store download in both 2012 and 2013, and made a big splash with one of the most popular Super Bowl ads of 2015. The game still regularly ranks in the Top 10 of the App Store’s top-grossing apps, including this week. However, the fake history is not completely out of tune. In 2012, Supercell game designer Lasse Louhento told Pocketgamer that some of the visual inspiration for Clash came from old SNES games like Gauntlet.

In addition to the fake document — which has already garnered millions of views — Supercell is celebrating its decade of mobile gaming dominance with a few other surprises to delight fans, such as mini-games that recreate some of the fake past celebrated in the document. In it, Clash of Clans is reimagined as an arcade game called Clash, a 1990s console racer called Clash Dash, and an early 2000s open-world game called Clash: Cradle of Darkness. They are all time specific and have been ‘remastered’ for mobile so they can be played in the Clash of Clans app.

Other IRL links to the fake document include a trio of brand collaborations, including a General Mills cereal called Boom Boom, a capsule collection of clothing featuring Champion, and a series of Clash-themed Garbage Pail Kids featuring Topps.

“It has become a habit for brands to partner up, but here the approach was about more than just finding companies to work with, but also tying them to this bigger story that this whole thing could really be,” says W+K creative director Lawrence Melilli. “So we really made the 90s cereal, now re-released it as this thing from the vault, which looks like an archive commercial, and then put that in the documentary. Everything is connected in an effort to create this plausible alternate reality for fans to have fun with.”

In 2017, Supercell marked Clash’s fifth anniversary by taking a popular Builder character out of the game and into the real world, even building an 18-foot Tesla tower—which also doubled as a giant statue of the PEKKA— character of the game – to act as an elaborate phone charger for passersby. At the time, then-partner of ad agency Gerry Graf said that given its fun roster of characters and incredibly strong fan community, Clash had the content potential to be its own version of Pixar. For Gurman, the ambition remains to take these characters out of the game and tell stories in various media.

“We see Clash as our largest and most valuable IP,” says Gurman. “For the future of Clash, from the IP and entertainment side, we’ve always used animation to bring the characters out, and we’re looking at stories in a longer form, and we’re exploring other ways to bring Clash into the entertainment space.”

To that end, a new graphic novel Clash of Clans will be available for pre-order in the coming months. And yes, it is real.

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