“Clash of Clans” is a powerhouse of an app, and its players are as hardcore as they come.
Since its release in 2012, “Clash of Clans” has dominated Apple’s App Store, quickly climbing the ranks and claiming the title of No.1 highest-grossing app overall.
The game revolves around the idea of fortifying a base, defending it from invading players and their clans, and raiding the bases of others in order to gain resources and start the whole process over again. The gameplay is addicting, and because logging off means leaving your base wide open for a raid, the game’s top players stay glued to their screens.
Few players exemplify the addictive nature of game as well as “Tyrael,” a 21-year studying fire science technology in New Jersey. He’s a part-time firefighter, and he’s getting an associates degree in software engineering. Tyrael, who asked to stay anonymous for our story, says the app has been open for 8,000-9,000 hours.
He’s played the game ~25% of that time, but he’s tending to the app the whole time in order to train his troops. Troop training is a process which can take a while but is essential to building up resources to help win a raid.
“I ended up having to stay online 16 hours a day so I didn’t get attacked,” Tyrael tells Business Insider. “That became something I did on a daily routine.”
Tyrael is a top “Clash of Clans” player. He was one of the first players to fully upgrade his base to completion, a rare feat that only a handful have managed.
“All defensive walls, non-defensive buildings, heroes, everything, every last upgradable thing is complete,” Tyrael said. “Nothing you can click has a button that says upgrade anymore.”
“Clash of Clans” is a free app, but you can move along more quickly if you pay for features. This is a “freemium” model. It’s free to play, but you could end up paying a premium. Players are always tempted to pay real-world dollars for the virtual in-game currency, gems, to help get ahead in the game. For example, if a player wanted to upgrade their base to match Tyrael’s, it would cost them just shy of $US12,000.
While Tyrael has purchased the occasional upgrade, he says the overall amount is minimal, around $US50 and that he preferred to upgrade the old-fashioned way by playing the game.
It’s against the game’s terms of service to sell an account, but Tyrael admits that he’s been approached before. “I was offered several thousand at one point,” he said.
So what’s so addicting about a “Clash of Clans” raid?
“There’s a three-minute timer on the raid,” Tyrael said. “You get 30 seconds to look at an enemy’s base, and then as soon as you start dropping troops, you have three minutes to destroy the enemy’s defences.”
If you win a battle you get at least one trophy, which advances you in the rankings. If you lose, you give up a portion of your trophies, depending on if your opponent was a higher or lower rank than you. If you’re fighting someone less experienced, an upset would mean you lose more trophies proportionally, as a win would expected. If you’re the underdog, you have an opportunity to earn more trophies if you’re willing to take more risks.
Here’s an example of what it’s like in the thick of a battle, as Tyrael’s troops break through the defences and begin to swarm an enemy’s base.
Tyrael was introduced to “Clash of Clans” by his older brother shortly after the game launched in late 2012. As a firefighter, he says he’s been in multiple fires, even narrowly avoiding death when a live power line fell only feet from him.
When asked how he juggles it all, he says the answer lies in multitasking and planning ahead.
“I could take ‘Clash of Clans’ wherever I went,” Tyrael said. He’s currently using an iPhone 5S. “In some cases, I could play while doing something else. I would look at the next few days, and figure out where I could play for a few hours. I actually scheduled my sleep around it sometimes.”
Tyrael says he’s never played while on the way to a fire, for obvious reasons, but he has occasionally checked “Clash of Clans” briefly on the way back.
To make some money from his intense “Clash of Clans” habit, Tyrael has started livestreaming on Twitch and YouTube.
Last September, he partnered with Curse Entertainment, a popular streaming network that operates on YouTube and Twitch. Tyrael almost signed an e-contract with another streaming network, TGN, but says he ended up going with Curse Entertainment, which will give him 90% of the ad revenue generated from his videos.
Since YouTube videos can earn roughly $US6 per thousand views through ad revenue, Tyrael could end up making around $US675 for a video that gets 125,000 views.
In the meantime, he’ll continue battling against the best “Clash of Clans” players in the world in the “Champion’s League,” though his firefighting duties mean he needs to be ready to drop the game at a moment’s notice.
“It’s 24 hours on call, so even if I’m in Champions League, I shut off the phone and take the loss.”
When asked if he would still dive headlong into “Clash of Clans” if he could do it all over, Tyrael says he has no regrets. “People every day ask me why I spent so much time,” he said. “Generally, I can’t change what I’ve done, so regretting anything I do is generally a waste of time.”
If you’re interested in watching some of Tyrael’s recorded livestreams, you can catch them over at his official YouTube channel.
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