For CI Games, formerly City Interactive, Lords of the Fallen is more than just a successful foray into the big budget, AAA space. CEO Marek Tyminski says that it’s a sign of the company’s vision for the future.
"I think we proved with Lords of the Fallen that our production formula works well," Tyminski told Polygon in a recent interview. "It’s not about how many people you have internally. It’s about the quality of that talent."
Tyminski says that CI Games was blessed with an exceptional talent in Tomasz Gop, the executive producer on Lords of the Fallen, who came to work on the project in 2011 after spending time as the senior producer on the first two games in the Witcher franchise. Along with a small team of around 10 CI employees, Tyminski says that Gop was integral in working with their German partners at Deck13 Interactive to get the game out in time for this holiday season.
"We had around 65 people at Deck13 working on the project," Tyminski says. "At certain times we had more than 100 other contractors working on the game from third parties. But we also had [Gop] and his team of 10 people here at our Warsaw offices of CI Games working. I would say the majority of the creative and artistic vision for the game was thanks to our guys in Warsaw."
The result was a successful third-person action RPG in the vein of Dark Souls, one that scored well here at Polygon and at other major Western gaming publications. There’s already a DLC campaign headed to fans this winter, called Ancient Labyrinth. The title was CI’s first full price AAA release, and Tyminski says its given him the confidence to pursue more titles at that scale.
In fact, Tyminski says that there are two more AAA titles in production right now.
Helping to expand the number of big budget titles coming out of Poland is a point of pride for Tyminski. He says that CI Games, which changed its name from City Interactive just last year, helped break down barriers in Poland between investors and the gaming industry over a decade ago.
There are two more AAA titles in production right now.
After the fall of Communism, capital was slow to flow into the gaming space. City Interactive was one of the first Polish games companies to be listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange and also one of the most successful. Their initial public offering in 2007 raised around $8 million, and the success of their core franchise Sniper: Ghost Warrior made those early investors very happy.
"We were trading at around 3 Polish zloty in the beginning of 2010," Tyminski said. "Then we grew to 35. Some investors made more than 1000 percent within the first six months. … That brought a lot of attention to the video games industry here from investors, private equity firms and venture capital because of the success of Sniper: Ghost Warrior."
Today CI Games' market cap is around $46 million dollars. That early success emboldened teams like 11 bit studios, makers of the upcoming This War of Mine, to use Polish stock markets to support their companies.
"We put this industry on the radar in Poland," Tyminski said. "That helped a lot of smaller studios become successful."
Ultimately, Tyminski doesn’t see CI Games getting much larger than its current staff levels. As they ramp up production on both of their new AAA titles they’ll be leveraging international partners like Deck13 to provide them the manpower they need.
"The polish games industry is not that broad in terms of the number of people who are working in it," Tyminski said. "Expanding the team to consist mostly of a Polish workforce isn’t an easy thing. Even when you take people on board who are coming from abroad there are still certain limitations in terms of how quickly you can grow. And knowing those constraints, our goal is not to grow significantly in terms of the number of people on each team, but it’s really making smart decisions with synergies and selecting proper partners who can deliver up to the quality that our design team would be establishing."