People Can Fly

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People Can Fly
FormerlyEpic Games Poland (2013–2015)
TypePublic
WSEPCF
IndustryVideo games
FoundedFebruary 2002; 19 years ago (2002-02)
Founder
Headquarters,
Poland
Number of locations
8 studios (2021)
Key people
Sebastian Wojciechowski (CEO)
Number of employees
400[2] (2021)
ParentEpic Games (2007–2015)
Websitepeoplecanfly.com

People Can Fly is a Polish video game developer based in Warsaw. The studio was founded in February 2002 by Adrian Chmielarz, previously the co-founder of Metropolis Software, together with acquaintances Michał Kosieradzki and Andrzej Poznański. The studio's first game was Painkiller (2004). Its success led to a deal with THQ for the game Come Midnight, which allowed the studio to expand. After the game was cancelled, People Can Fly found itself in financial trouble. Epic Games acquired a majority share in People Can Fly in August 2007 and collaborated with the studio on projects such as Bulletstorm (2011) and Gears of War: Judgment (2013).

Epic bought the studio outright in August 2012. Chmielarz, Kosieradzki and Poznański subsequently left the studio and later founded The Astronauts. People Can Fly was rebranded Epic Games Poland in November 2013. The studio spun off under its former name and logo in June 2015 under the lead of chief executive officer Sebastian Wojciechowski. As of April 2021, the company employs 350 people in eight locations. Its most recent game is Outriders, which was released on 1st April 2021.

History[edit]

Prior to People Can Fly, Adrian Chmielarz had founded Metropolis Software with Grzegorz Miechowski, his friend since high school, in 1992. They successfully published a number of titles in Europe, including Teenagent. Due to a personal conflict with Miechowski, Chmielarz opted to leave Metropolis in 2002.[3] He considered leaving the video game industry due to the strain on his friendship with Miechowski but, after a few months, decided to try a new venture. He contacted previous acquaintances Andrzej Poznański and Michał Kosieradzki, and together they founded People Can Fly in February 2002 with an aim of bringing Polish game development to a much wider audience.[3][4] Chmielarz said that, at the time, most games developed in Poland had some success locally, but were not given much attention from the rest of the world, a sentiment shared by many other Polish developers that he had talked to.[3] Chmielarz, Kosieradzki and Poznański served as the creative lead, lead artist and principal artist respectively.[5] Expanding to about twenty developers, some of whom left established jobs at other studios to join People Can Fly, the studio developed its first title, Painkiller, which was released in 2004 to critical success.[3]

Stemming from the success of Painkiller, People Can Fly struck a partnership with THQ to produce Come Midnight. Using THQ's multi-million dollar financing, the studio expanded to 70 people. The team worked on the game for about a year and a half, developing a proprietary game engine for it, before THQ cancelled the project in 2006 and withheld the remaining payment of approximately US$300,000.[3] With only about one month of operating capital left, Chmielarz contacted Epic Games and requested an evaluation copy of their Unreal Engine, intending for the studio to make a quick demo that they could pitch to other publishers for further funding. Epic Games' vice-president, Mark Rein, having known People Can Fly's work, personally handled the agreement. The studio created a demo within a month, and Rein was impressed with the quality of it and the speed at which it was created. He, therefore, arranged for the studio to work on a port of Epic Games' Gears of War to personal computers (PCs), saving the studio.[3][6] Epic Games also acquired a majority stake in the studio in August 2007.[7]

Epic's interest in People Can Fly led to the two companies collaborating on Bulletstorm and Gears of War: Judgment, with People Can Fly reaching about 120 staff members around this time.[3] During the development of Gears of War: Judgement, Epic Games began to discuss the full acquisition of People Can Fly, which they completed in August 2012.[8] Chmielarz, Kosieradzki and Poznański subsequently announced their departure from the studio, founding another studio, The Astronauts, shortly thereafter. Chmielarz stated the reason for their departures was due to the nature of how Epic Games was approaching game development, partially influenced by Tencent's prior investment in the company to help them develop games as a service. Chmielarz felt this approach would be limiting for them to develop narrative-driven games. He said of Epic Games' approach: "It's not about being right or wrong. Hopefully, my vision of the future and their vision of the future are both valid, because it's actually possible. They're not in opposition to each other."[3] Chmielarz was able to bring a number of other People Can Fly developers over to The Astronauts, which went on to develop the ideas that they had for Come Midnight into The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.[3] Both Chmielarz and Rein described the founding trio's departure as amicable.[3][9]

In November 2013, People Can Fly was rebranded Epic Games Poland, falling in line with Epic Games' other worldwide studios.[4] On 24 June 2015, the studio announced that it split from Epic Games to become an independent company again, reverting to its former name and logo.[10] According to Sebastian Wojciechowski, the chief executive officer of People Can Fly following the split, the studio had been working on others' intellectual property (IP) since the release of Gears of War: Judgement and wanted to return to making their own IP. While the exact details of the split were not made public, Wojciechowski described it as a "real management buyout".[11] The company retained the rights to the Bulletstorm franchise and revealed an unannounced project made using Unreal Engine 4.[10] People Can Fly continued working with Epic Games on their projects Fortnite and Spyjinx alongside developing their own IP.[12]

People Can Fly opened a development studio in Newcastle upon Tyne in September 2017, which included a number of former Ubisoft developers, among others. They opened a second Poland studio in Rzeszów in May 2018, bringing on many former CI Games developers following layoffs at that studio. This brought the total number of People Can Fly employees to about 160, up from around 40 in 2015. This accompanied news that People Can Fly was working with Square Enix on a AAA shooter.[11][12][13] A fourth studio, People Can Fly New York, was opened in June 2019, bringing People Can Fly's total employee count to around 200.[14] In July 2020, the studio announced that a AAA action-adventure game was in production at its New York studio for PC, next-generation consoles, and streaming platforms. By this time, People Can Fly had reached 250 employees.[15] The studio became a public company on the Warsaw Stock Exchange in December 2020.[16] In April 2021, People Can Fly acquired Chicago-based Phosphor Studios (rebranded as PCF Chicago) and Game On in Montreal, raising its headcount to over 350.[16][17] Wojciechowski explained that People Can Fly was eyeing acquisitions primarily in the United States and United Kingdom because Polish studios were too expensive.[17]

Games developed[edit]

Year Title Publisher(s) Platform(s) Notes
Win Xbox PS3 X360 PS4 XONE Switch PS5 XSX/S Stadia
2004 Painkiller DreamCatcher Interactive Yes No No No No No No No No No
Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell Yes No No No No No No No No No Expansion pack for Painkiller
2006 Painkiller: Hell Wars No Yes No No No No No No No No Port of Painkiller
2007 Gears of War Microsoft Studios Yes No No No No No No No No No Ported only
2011 Duty Calls: The Calm Before the Storm Electronic Arts Yes No No No No No No No No No
Bulletstorm Yes No Yes Yes No No No No No No Co-developed with Epic Games
2013 Gears of War: Judgment Microsoft Studios No No No Yes No No No No No No
2017 Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Gearbox Software Yes No No No Yes Yes No No No No Remastered version of Bulletstorm
Fortnite: Save the World Epic Games Yes No No No Yes Yes No No No No Co-developed with Epic Games
2019 Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch Edition Gearbox Software No No No No No No Yes No No No Remastered version of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition
2021 Outriders Square Enix Yes No No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes

Cancelled[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "PCF's New Logo Is Here!". People Can Fly. 18 May 2020. Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
  2. ^ "People Can Fly now way over 400 employees worldwide". People Can Fly Official Profile on LinkedIn. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Hall, Charlie (16 July 2014). "The Astronauts: A Polish Team Gets Small to Think Bigger". Polygon. Archived from the original on 9 December 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  4. ^ a b Sarkar, Samit (1 November 2013). "People Can Fly now known as Epic Games Poland". Polygon. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  5. ^ Crecente, Brian (12 August 2012). "People Can Fly founders leave Epic Games to 'pursue other opportunities'". Polygon. Archived from the original on 7 December 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  6. ^ "Ludzie potrafią latać". Neo+. No. 103. October 2007.
  7. ^ Geddes, Ryan (20 August 2007). "GC 2007: Epic Buys Stake in People Can Fly". IGN. Archived from the original on 4 August 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2018.
  8. ^ Karmali, Luke (12 August 2012). "Epic Games Buys Gears of War: Judgment Dev". IGN. Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  9. ^ Crecente, Brian (13 August 2012). "Epic Games buys People Can Fly". Polygon. Archived from the original on 9 December 2017. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  10. ^ a b Hussain, Tamoor (24 June 2015). "People Can Fly Turns Independent, Buys Bulletstorm IP". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  11. ^ a b Taylor, Haydn (18 October 2018). "The rebuilding of People Can Fly". GamesIndustry.biz. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  12. ^ a b Hall, Charlie (17 May 2018). "How did the studio behind Bulletstorm end up making a shooter with Square Enix?". Polygon. Archived from the original on 18 May 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  13. ^ Batchelor, James (16 May 2018). "People Can Fly opens new UK, Poland studios". GamesIndustry.biz. Archived from the original on 16 May 2018. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  14. ^ Kerr, Chris (5 June 2019). "Bulletstorm and Gears of War developer People Can Fly opens New York studio". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 5 June 2019. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  15. ^ Romano, Sal (30 July 2020). "People Can Fly developing AAA action adventure game for next-gen consoles, PC, and streaming platforms". Gematsu. Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  16. ^ a b Dealessandri, Marie (26 April 2021). "People Can Fly acquires Phosphor Studios". GamesIndustry.biz. Archived from the original on 14 June 2021. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  17. ^ a b Nelipa, Svetlana (21 May 2021). "People Can Fly pokupayet amerikanskiye studii: pol'skiye slishkom dorogiye" People Can Fly покупает американские студии: польские слишком дорогие [People Can Fly buys American studios: Polish ones are too expensive]. Igromania (in Russian). Archived from the original on 21 May 2021. Retrieved 16 August 2021.
  18. ^ Purchese, Robert (19 May 2014). "Why THQ canned Bulletstorm dev's LA Noire-like game, Come Midnight". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 20 May 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.

External links[edit]