20th anniversary of People Can Fly
The Aviators of gamedev are celebrating two decades of flying high in the game industry
Today People Can Fly is one of the top studios in Poland in the AAA games market segment – what’s more, PCF Group S.A. is a global public company on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, with locations in Poland, UK, US and Canada, and over 500 employees onboard (1/3 in North America). This year PCF is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its presence in the game industry and reminding everyone that their established position in the market comes from a rich history, thanks to which the studio is considered a shooter genre specialist, and one of the leading developers working with Unreal Engine technology. Below you will find a retrospective of the most important facts from two decades of PCF’s existence.
2002 – PCF is established by Adrian Chmielarz, Michał Kosieradzki and Andrzej Poznański, previously associated with Metropolis Software, a pioneer company of the Polish game industry (creators of The Mystery of the Statuette, Teenagent, and Gorky 17).
2004 – The global launch of PCF’s first game – Painkiller, a shooter published by DreamCatcher Interactive. The game was praised by the critics – it had a Metacritic score of 81/100 and received many awards from media, including Game of the Month from Game Informer and GameSpot.
2006 – THQ, which previously had signed a publishing and development agreement with PCF for Come Midnight, an ambitious mix of action and adventure game with noir atmosphere, cancels the title from their publishing plans.
2007 – PCF decides to create a demo for a new title using the popular Unreal Engine. This leads to establishing a collaboration with Epic Games, which acquires a majority stake in the studio in 2007. The first title that PCF works on for Epic is a PC port of the bestseller shooter Gears of War.
2011 – A new game from PCF hits the market – Bulletstorm, published by Electronic Arts and co-created with such well-known names as Rick Remender, scriptwriter of Dead Space and a popular comic book author. The title has a Metacritic score of 82-84/100, depending on the platform, and great reviews from such media as Destructoid, Game Informer, Eurogamer, PC Gamer, or IGN.
2012 – Sebastian Wojciechowski, the current CEO of PCF, joins the company as a Member of the Board. Epic Games buys the remaining 40% of the People Can Fly Sp. z o.o. shares and becomes a sole shareholder of company. Studio founders leave the company.
March 2013 – The launch of Gears of War: Judgment, a prequel for the popular trilogy from Epic Games co-produced with PCF. The games is warmly received and has a Metacritic score of 79/100.
November 2013 – PCF changes its name to Epic Games Poland. As a part of Epic Games, the studio participates in the production of such games as Fortnite: Save The World, Infinity Blade, SpyJinx, Unreal Tournament, and Paragon.
2015 – Sebastian Wojciechowski acquires the studio back from Epic Games together with his associates – Bartosz Kmita, Bartosz Biełuszko, and Krzysztof Dolaś. Studio returns to People Can Fly brand name and also retains rights to the Bulletstorm IP. At this point, around 40 developers work at PCF – all of the people that trusted Wojciechowski and his partners, and decided to stay in PCF, received shares of the company.
February 2016 – A pitch for a new PCF game catches the interest of Square Enix, which leads to the signing of a publishing and development agreement for a AAA title. The same year, PCF starts a collaboration with Gearbox Publishing, which will publish a remastered version of Bulletstorm.
April 2017 – Gearbox Publishing launches Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition. A bonus highlight of the remaster is the guest appearance of the legendary Duke Nukem as a playable character.
September 2017 – PCF opens a studio in Newcastle, UK.
March 2018 – PCF opens a studio in Rzeszów, Poland.
June 2019 – PCF opens a studio in New York, which is joined by the team of Defiant Games, including its founders David Grijns and Roland Lesterlin.
June 2019 – At E3, Square Enix reveals Outriders – a co-op looter shooter set in a dark science fiction world.
August 2019 – Bulletstorm: Duke of Switch Edition launches on Nintendo Switch.
July 2020 – PCF signs a publishing and development agreement with Take-Two Interactive for a new action AAA game, under the code name Project Dagger. A new PCF start-up studio in Montreal is also opened this month.
August 2020 – PCF signs a publishing and development agreement with Square Enix for an AAA game, under the code name Project Gemini. A new PCF start-up studio in Łódź, Poland, is also opened this month.
December 2020 – PCF Group S.A. debuts as public company listed on Warsaw Stock Exchange.
April 2021 – The launch of Outriders.
April 2021 – PCF acquires a Montreal-based motion capture and audio studio – Game On Creative, Inc. – together with expanding the activities of formerly registered PCF Canada company.
April 2021 – PCF opens a studio in Chicago, which is joined by the Phosphor Games Team, including leads Justin Corcoran, Jarod Pranno and Chip Sineni.
November 2021 – A large update for Outriders, New Horizon, is published. PCF, together with Square Enix, announces a paid DLC for the game, Worldslayer, for 2022.
December 2021 – PCF acquires Incuvo S.A., a company specialized in VR gaming from Katowice, Poland.
The premiere of Outriders was an important turning point in PCF’s history – the first game published after the return to independence. But the studio is boldly looking forward to future, working on several projects simultaneously. Currently, PCF is creating Project Gemini with Square Enix and Project Dagger with Take-Two Interactive. The company is also investing in a hybrid business model, in which a part of their titles will be self-distributed – and a new IP to be published that way is already in developement. Additionally, PCF is developing two more projects currently in concept phase, and Incuvo is adapting one of the IPs from the PCF portfolio for VR platforms. In September 2021 PCF updated its strategy, adding the possibility of broadening their portfolio with “compact AAA” – games with a lesser scope and budget, but comparable with AAA titles in terms of high quality. In the same update, the company announced its intention to deliver at least one game per year to the market, starting in 2024 – which may be self-published or made in cooperation with a publisher. The studio is also developing PCF Framework – a suite of unique software and tools for game development based on self-created extensions for the Unreal Engine. Investment in PCF Framework translates to even higher effectiveness and creativity in game production.
The expansion of the PCF portfolio is accompanied by a business and cultural transformation currently underway in the PCF Group S.A. – this process is aimed mainly at solidifying and strengthening the global character of the studio. Further growth of the employment base is also planned, which is connected to increased recruitment efforts as well as developing the business in new location, both in Poland and in other countries. PCF is also open to further acquisitions in the near future. With these ambitious plans of People Can Fly, the studio’s rich history may be only a prologue to reaching even greater heights
“I look back with pride at 20 years of People Can Fly’s history, not always easy, as well as the place in which we are today. We wouldn’t be here if not for Adrian Chmielarz and PCF’s founders, the support of Epic Games and Tim Sweeney, the faith Square Enix put in Outriders, but first of all an incredibly talented team. And, finally, this bunch of Aviators, which in the mid-2015 believed in the project of new PCF, including my partners Bartosz Kmita, Bartosz Biełuszko and Krzysztof Dolaś. Thanks are due to all of you, as well as a spot in PCF’s credits. I would also like to thank the whole team – in the current shape, as well as to all Aviators who decided to become a part of it during those two decades. I am happy that PCF is growing dynamically. We don’t intend to slow down and we will be implementing our strategy, but what’s most important, we will make games and have fun with it” – sums up Sebastian Wojciechowski, CEO PCF.