People Can Fly head talks about split with Epic, new game

Working on a triple-A shooter

People Can Fly, a Poland-based developer, announced a split from Epic Games this morning. While the studio gained notoriety for its Painkiller games, in 2007 the majority of the company was acquired by Epic, and since then it’s largely been known for supporting and co-creating games with the Gears of War developer. Under that tutelage, the company was re-branded as Epic Games Poland.

That changes today, as the company reverts back to People Can Fly. We spoke with studio head Sebastian Wojciechowski about the thought process behind the deal and the new direction for the developer.

According to Wojciechowski, People Can Fly’s new independence comes from, well, an eagerness to be independent. “The desire to create our own game was stronger than all the benefits of being a part of Epic group,” he said. “And, we are lucky that Tim Sweeney as well as Epic’s board and its executive team members are fair and honest people and allowed us to reach for our dreams and gave us amazing opportunity to become an independent developer again.”

While the terms of the deal are undisclosed to the public, Wojciechowski confirmed that it was a simple management buy-out. (Neither Epic Games nor People Can Fly are publicly traded companies, so no SEC filings are available.) One thing that Wojciechowski stressed to us is the stake he wants employees to have in their own work. “We want all People Can Fly employees to become People Can Fly shareholders,” he said. “[That goes for] present and future employees.”

But, just because the developer is free from Epic doesn’t mean the two won’t still collaborate. People Can Fly is currently helping with Fortnite and contributing to Unreal Engine 4. Both of those are in parallel to the new game it’s working on.

Wojciechowski was tight-lipped regarding People Can Fly’s new project, but he did say “Our DNA is AAA shooters and we’ve just started a journey to bring our community a new game.” This game will be made with Unreal 4, which is predictable given the studio’s familiarity with the engine. We’ll see what the developer can do without Epic as a guiding hand for the first time in almost a decade.

Brett Makedonski
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