How To Design A Mobile Game? Case Study: Clash Of Clans

how to design a mobile gameSo you want to design a mobile game but you have no idea how to start.

This case study looks at Clash of Clan (CoC) to explain what you need to know before creating your own mobile game.

Then I'll show you how to design a mobile game starting with game play.

Let the fun begins!

Successful Mobile Game Design Case Study: Clash of Clan

Clash of Clan (CoC) is one of the top grossing mobile games in iTune store.

clash of clan top grossing chart


Almost 700 gamers reviewed and more than 60% players rated 5 stars for CoC.

clash of clan 5 stars rating


Their estimated daily revenue on is whooping one million!

clash of clan daily million revenue


Results speaks for itself. The game must have good mobile game design to achieve such good results until now.

So what exactly does creating a mobile game design requires?

Designing a mobile game involves a complex development process of piecing 4 main elements into one.

The 4 main elements are:

A. the game concept,

B. the game play,

C. the visual and

D. the interactive controls.

Gamers are subconsciously perceiving these 4 elements simultaneously while playing a game.

Let's start with a deeper analysis into the game play.

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The Game Play Design of Clash of Clan

The game play explains how the entire game is executed. Think about objectives, rules, rewards, progress, levels, etc.


Clear Game Objectives

Game objective is primary purpose for gamers to play and challenge their skills. It's similar to scoring in basketball or soccer where the players tries to the ball into the net.

The main objective of CoC is to win the opponent’s base.


By using the right combination of troops strategically. Player chooses the types of troops they want and prepares them.

clash of clan deploy troops

Once troops are ready, they search for opponents of their choice and deploy them. Their aim is to demolish 50% of the opponent’s base, destroy the town hall or destroy everything.

Sounds simple enough for a game's objective? You bet!

A clear objective gives the player the right direction to play the game.


Secondary Objectives

A game may have many secondary objectives for gamers to achieve.

Apart from winning a battle, CoC allows player to build and design their own base. Their base will be storing valuable resources to upgrade their buildings, troops or build more buildings.

Not forgetting the achievement board, CoC has a list of objectives that a gamer can aim to accomplish and be rewarded with gems.

clash of clan achievements

Clear objectives motivates players to play more, achieve them and get rewarded.

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Clash of Clans Ultimate Guide


Game Rules and Boundaries

Game rules and boundaries creates a fair gaming environment. Take basketball for example, a player cannot bounce the ball using two hand continuously.

These rules are make known to gamers during tutorials stage. It's always easier to learn from experiencing the process.

In CoC, each player is given 30 seconds to strategize before clashing an opponent. Once the preparation time is up, the gamer is given 3 minutes to win the battle.

This challenges the player to analyse the base quickly and formulate their own war strategy.

Deploying troops in CoC is restricted by at least 1 tile distance from the opponent’s buildings. A tile represents the distance measurement in CoC.

clash of clan building 1 tile distance

With these restriction, all players have to deploy their troops with the given rules and win the game.

A fair fight for each game makes everyone happy.


Game Reward

Game reward is a crucial factor to dictate the motivation of a gamer. Gamers would feel his effort and time is well spent when he gets rewarded for accomplishing a challenge and in the game.

CoC's rewards comes in various form.



A player wins the fight if he wins at least 1 star. Stars are obtained by either destroying opponent's town hall, clearing 50% of their base or clearing everything.

This star system provides a feedback to players on how well he performed on his last fight.

clash of clan 3 stars win


Trophies are awarded to the players based on the number of stars he gets from winning the battle.

These trophies count represent the gamer’s ranking among other gamers. This gives players the indication on where he stands among other players.

The higher the ranking, the higher the bonus resources will be awarded after winning a fight.



A player gets to loot the opponent's gold, elixir and dark elixir as basic reward. On top of that, winning the fight with minimum 1 star achievement will receive a bonus resources.

These resources can be utilized by the player to upgrade their buildings, troops or build more buildings.

These variety of rewards motivates the player to play depending on what he aims for at that time. For example, if the players plans to upgrade his building, he will aim to win more gold.

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Gamer’s Progression

A gamer needs to feel progression in any games. Progression can be advancing to more challenging levels, leveling up their character, buy power gears for their character, beating their own score and many more.

Gamers needs to feel they have progression by achieving breakthrough repeatedly. Everyone likes the experience of growth in some aspect as it gives a sense of accomplishment.

CoC has designed many types of progression for their gamers to achieve.


Resources progression

Resources is the main fuel in CoC. There are gold, elixir and dark elixir. Players like resources because they are able to use it to build more or upgrade.


Town Hall progression

Town hall indicates the level of the player's strength. Lower level townhalls have weaker troops and defense while higher level townhalls are more powerful. Players will aim to level their townhalls in order to unlocks powerful unit types such as dark troops and heros.


Units progression

Troops available to the players are able to be upgraded. They become stronger and more powerful once they level up. Players aims to have more powerful troops so they can win more often in the battle.

clash of clan units progress

Base Defense progression.

Players are able to upgrade they base defenses. Higher level defense towers are able to protect the player's resources from being raided by other opponents. With higher level townhalls, players can build more defense towers or special defences towers.

clash of clan defence progress


Game Levels

Players gets to be challenged by different game levels. Players also starts off with easy level.


This allows the player to get familiar with the game and have some fun. As the player improves in their skills, they advances to higher difficulty levels.

In CoC, the learning curve for gamers is very gentle at start. The game progresses with higher difficulty as the player levels up.

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Single player (For Beginners)

Beginners are able to learn the game by playing single player mode. This includes introducing the game from scratch and guiding the player step by step.

clash of clan single player

CoC designed 50 single player levels for players to play and get comfortable before proceeding to playing multiplayers. Each level increases in difficulty as the player progresses.

What happens after 50 levels are cleared?


Multi players

Players are able to compete online with other players in multiplayer mode. CoC created a base building element so that players can design their own base. This means there is endless levels of challenges in the game. The only exception is when the players have maxed out every building and troops in their game.

CoC also built a search engine to match players up to compete based on their trophies levels. Now players gets to find opponents of the same ranking to fight with.

clash of clan multiplayer


Game Balance

A game needs to be balanced by adjusting the attributes of game character or buildings. This prevents players from using only one solution to win the game.

In CoC, there are many game balancing patches. The more significant patches are increasing damage of giant bombs to hogs riders. This was implemented when many players use hogs alone to win the game. Like I said, don't make game too easy otherwise there will be no challenge.

However, game balancing is an ongoing process.

Why so?

That's because game designers will never know how players play their game until they see them in action. There will always be surprises when we observe players' behavior in the game.


How to design a mobile game?

You have learn about the game play of a mobile game.

Now... it's time to put on your thinking cap.

Game design can start by brainstorming on ideas for your game play.

Here are a list of questions to help you design a mobile game:

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1. Objective

What is the main objective of the game?

What is the challenge of the game?

Are there any similar kind of games on the market?

Are the similar games on the market considered fun or engaging?

What are the secondary objectives?


2. Rules

What are the rules of the game? List them all down

Can you think of ways the players are able to break the rules?

What if players break the rules?

Is the playing environment safe and fair to play?


3. Rewards

What is the reward for accomplishing the objective of the game?

Are there other rewards offered to the players?

How are the rewards offered to the players?

Are the rewards enough?

Can the rewards be put into other uses?


4. Progression

Is it easy to learn the game?

Does it takes long to learn the game?

How does the player advances?

Is it difficult to advance?

What else can the player advance in?


5. Game Levels

Are the game levels easy to start with?

How different are the game levels?

How many game levels will there be?

Are the game levels challenging yet achievable?



Now you had an idea how to design a mobile game, I'd love to hear your comments and even ideas too! Do leave me a comment below! Share this post with your friends as well!

I've also did a comparison on strategy game between desktop and mobile platform for mobile game design which you will be interested.

In the mean time, Stay updated in the future post!

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