People Can Fly
People Can Fly Sp. z o.o. and for a time known as Epic Games Poland, is a Polish video game developer established in February 2002 by Adrian Chmielarz and based in Warsaw, Poland. Their first video game was Painkiller.
|Epic Games Poland (2013-2015)|
|Industry||Video game industry|
Number of locations
|4 studios (2019)|
|Sebastian Kamil Wojciechowski|
Gears of War: Judgment
Number of employees
|Parent||Epic Games (2012–2015)|
On August 20, 2007, Epic Games acquired a majority share in the company. The firm was fully acquired in August 2012 by Epic, and subsequently rebranded itself as Epic Games Poland in November 2013. However, on June 24, 2015, it was announced they had become independent and they will revert to using their old name and logo.
Adrian Chmielarz had previously founded Metropolis Software along with his friend since high school Grzegorz Miechowski in 1992, and successfully published a number of titles in Europe, include Teenagent. Due to a harsh personnel conflict with Miechowski, Chmielarz opted to leave Metropolis in 2002. Metropolis eventually was acquired by CD Projekt in 2008 and closed in 2009, though Miechowski subsequently founded 11 bit studios with other Metropolis staff members.
Chmielarz had considered leaving the video game industry after departing Metropolis 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 Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki to build out a new studio with the aim of bring Polish game development to a much wider audience. Chmielarz said that at the time, most games that were being 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 talked to. This led towards the studio's name "People Can Fly", to help raise the awareness of Poland's contributions to video games. Chmielarz served as creative lead, while Poznanski was the lead artist and Kosieradzki as the principal artist. Securing about twenty developers, some who left established jobs at other studios to join People Can Fly, they developed their first title Painkiller in 2004, a critically successful game that established the studio's reputation.
From Painkiller, People Can Fly had gotten support from THQ to produce Come Midnight, and received millions of dollars to expand out the studio to 70 people. They had worked on the game for about a year and a half, developing a proprietary game engine for it, before THQ cancelled the project, which personally cost Chmielarz US$300,000. With only about one month of operating capital left, Chmielarz contacted Epic Games and requested an evaluation copy of their Unreal Engine, so that they could make a quick demo that they could shop around to other publishers and try to re-secure funding. Epic's Vice President Mark Rein, having known People Can Fly's work, personally handled the agreement. Within a month, People Can Fly had created a demo that impressed Rein with the speed it was developed with and its quality, and arranged for the studio to work on the port of Gears of War to personal computers, financially saving the studio.
Epic's interest in People Can Fly led to the two companies collaborating on Bulletstorm and Gears of War: Judgment, reaching about 120 staff members at this time. People Can Fly were also brought on to help with Fortnite.
During the development of Gears of War: Judgement, Epic began to discuss acquisition of People Can Fly, and completed the acquisition by August 2012. The same day as Epic's announcement, Chmielarz, along with Poznanski and Kosieradzki, announced their departure from the studio, shortly thereafter founding a new studio, The Astronauts. Chmielarz stated the reason for their departure was due to the nature of how Epic was approaching games, partially influenced by Tencent's recent investment into 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's new 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." Chmielarz was able to bring a number of other People Can Fly developers into his smaller studio. The Astronauts went on to develop the ideas that they had for Come Midnight into The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Both Chmielarz and Rein described their departure as amicable.
About a year after its acquisition, People Can Fly rebranded itself as Epic Games Poland, aligning with the naming of Epic Games' other worldwide studios.
On June 24, 2015, People Can Fly announced that they would be split from their parent company Epic Games, a process that had begun with the release of Gears of War: Judgement. According to Sebastian Wojciechowski, the CEO of People Can Fly following the split, the studio had been working on others' IP since the acquisition by Epic 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". The company retained the Bulletstorm franchise and revealed an unannounced project based on Unreal Engine 4. People Can Fly continued working with Epic Games on their projects Fortnite and Spyjinx while also developing their own IP.
People Can Fly opened a development studio in Newcastle, UK, 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 earlier, bringing the total number of people for People Can Fly to about 160, from around 40 in 2015. This accompanied news that People Can Fly was working with Square Enix on a AAA shooter. The developer opened a fourth studio, People Can Fly New York, in June 2019, bringing their total employee count to around 200.
|2004||Painkiller||DreamCatcher Interactive||First game developed by People can Fly||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|2004||Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell||DreamCatcher Interactive||Expansion pack for Painkiller||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|2005||Painkiller: Black Edition||DreamCatcher Interactive||Black Edition combines the expansion with the original game onto a single disc.||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|2006||Painkiller: Hell Wars||DreamCatcher Interactive||A Xbox port for the original Painkiller||No||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|2007||Gears of War||Microsoft Studios||PC port only.||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|2008||Gears of War 2||Microsoft Studios||Co-developed with Epic Games||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2011||Duty Calls: The Calm Before the Storm||Electronic Arts||A promo game for PC||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|2011||Bulletstorm||Electronic Arts||Co-developed with Epic Games||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|2011||Gears of War 3||Microsoft Studios||Co-developed with Epic Games||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2013||Gears of War: Judgment||Microsoft Studios||First game developed after acquisition by Epic Games||No||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|2017||Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition||Gearbox Software||Remastered version of Bulletstorm||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|2017||Fortnite: Save the World||Epic Games||Co-developed with Epic Games||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Canceled||Come Midnight||THQ||The game was scheduled for a 2007 release before being canceled||No||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
- Geddes, Ryan (August 20, 2007). "GC 2007: Epic Buys Stake in People Can Fly". IGN. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
- Karmali, Luke (August 12, 2012). "Epic Games Buys Gears of War: Judgment Dev". IGN. Archived from the original on December 2, 2017. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
- Sarkar, Samit (2013-11-01). "People Can Fly now known as Epic Games Poland". Polygon. Archived from the original on 2013-11-02. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
- Hussain, Tamoor (June 24, 2015). "People Can Fly Turns Independent, Buys Bulletstorm IP". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 27, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
- Hall, Charlie (July 16, 2014). "The Astronauts: A Polish Team Gets Small to Think Bigger". Polygon. Archived from the original on December 9, 2017. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
- Crecente, Brian (August 12, 2012). "People Can Fly founders leave Epic Games to 'pursue other opportunities'". Polygon. Archived from the original on December 7, 2017. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
- Neo+ Issue #103, October 2007 "Ludzie potrafią latać" – interview with Adrian Chmielarz
- Crecente, Brian (August 13, 2012). "Epic Games buys People Can Fly". Polygon. Archived from the original on December 9, 2017. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
- Taylor, Haydn (October 18, 2018). "The rebuilding of People Can Fly". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
- Hall, Charlie (May 17, 2018). "How did the studio behind Bulletstorm end up making a shooter with Square Enix?". Polygon. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
- Batchelor, James (May 16, 2018). "People Can Fly opens new UK, Poland studios". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
- Kerr, Chris (June 5, 2019). "Bulletstorm and Gears of War developer People Can Fly opens New York studio". Gamasutra. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
- Purchese, Robert (19 May 2014). "Why THQ canned Bulletstorm dev's LA Noire-like game, Come Midnight". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on 20 May 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.