Polish Simulator Games Company Loves to Hate
The PlayWay SA one of the most bizarre companies in Poland’s growing gaming industry — and also one of the most successful. The company has built an extensive catalog of exotic world games, mostly first-person simulators that allow players to live out vocational fantasies, such as working in an auto shop, repair of houses, o managing a gas station. While the company’s games aren’t as obvious hits, they often land at or near the top of Steam’s global bestseller list — in September, for example, Gas Station Simulator debuted at No. 2 spots.
PlayWay’s capacity to generate hits from such bizarre topics has made it more popular with investors, who have pushed its market capitalization up to $ 751 million (2.94 billion PLN). This makes PlayWay the thirteenth-largest company on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, and the third-largest gaming company — followed only by CD Projekt Red, developers at The Witcher series and Cyberpunk 2077, and Ten Square Games, the mobile giant behind Let’s go fishing and Battle Fishing. PlayWay offers shareholders a percentage return on investment that’s 50 percent better than that Facebookand Alphabet‘s, and around as Appleni. And it regularly schedules multiple dividend payments, including the recently announced distribution of almost $ 3 per share.
While some major game publishers are facing rising production costs and new competition from the mobile market by cutting their release schedules to minimum blockbusters and legacy IP, PlayWay continues to expand of its output. In the last 12 months, the company has released 28 new titles, and it has more than 100 new titles in development. There is a first person president simulator, a wedding planner simulator, usa animal shelter simulator, a drug dealer simulator, a cooking simulator, a truck construction simulator, a crime scene inspector simulator, a gold mining simulator, a soccer referee simulator, a paleontologist simulator, usa autopsy simulator, a moon colony simulator, a 911 operator simulator, a papa simulator, and even a Jesus simulator. There are a lot of games in the works, though Krzyysztof Kostowski, the founder and CEO of PlayWay, has trouble tracking. “From us?” he asked talking to me Dolphin Trainer VR during a visit to one of the company’s Warsaw offices this summer.
To do this high-volume method of publishing work, PlayWay relies on a large network of external development studios, most of which are staffed by only a handful of people working remotely. One studio, Baked Games, is now developing three games with PlayWay from its core in a bit. house on a residential street in Czeladź, an hour outside Krakow. PlayWay currently collaborates with 120 studios in Poland — more than a quarter of 440 total in Poland today. This approach has helped PlayWay maintain itself on a relatively small scale — through triple-A publisher standards — with only 40 full-time employees, mostly QA testers and some finance. and marketing executives. For comparison, CD Projekt Red uses more than 900 people, and the EA is complete 9,800 employees.
Instead of fancy marketing campaigns, PlayWay uses free demos and solo prologues to promote upcoming titles, hoping to make word of mouth by providing free samples of a larger concept of the game to be a complete product at a later date. (Over the past year, 12 of the 28 the company has released free prologues or demos.) The company feeds on past successes by constantly exchanging new titles in recommended slots on the Steam store page. for the most hits to attract players to his latest release. PlayWay uses audience feedback from free demos and prologues, especially the number of players adding titles to their Steam wishlist, to decide which games should get more funding for promotion and post -release content.
Other players have criticized PlayWay as a kind of pyramid scheme for economy of attention, manipulating players with an endless array of new titles that may not evolve beyond sketches, clunky collections of environments, objects, and task lists. In Polish gaming forums, it is sometimes ridiculed as a “trailer company” rather than a game publisher, one more interested in producing marketing material than finished games. Kostowski contradicted this description, insisting that the company release every game it announced. And even if there are production delays, he said the company is always as transparent as possible about schedule changes through updates to developer blogs and Steam page announcements on each game.