PlayWay S.A. is one of the strangest providers in Poland’s booming game titles industry—and also a single of the most effective. The business has constructed an expansive catalog of unusually mundane game titles, typically to start with-man or woman simulators that allow gamers reside out vocational fantasies, such as operating in an vehicle shop, renovating properties, or running a gas station. Although the company’s game titles really do not appear to be like noticeable hits, they regularly land at or near the top of Steam’s world wide bestseller list—in September, for example, Fuel Station Simulator debuted in the No. 2 location.
PlayWay’s capacity to develop hits from such curious topics has designed it even extra well-known with investors, who’ve driven its sector capitalization up to $751 million (2.94 billion PLN). This makes PlayWay the thirteenth-biggest company on the Warsaw Inventory Exchange, and the third-most significant game titles company—trailing only CD Projekt Crimson, developers of The Witcher series and Cyberpunk 2077, and Ten Square Online games, the mobile giant guiding Let us Fish and Fishing Clash. PlayWay provides shareholders a return on expenditure proportion that is 50 p.c improved than Fb’s and Alphabet’s, and all around the exact as Apple’s. And it frequently schedules significant dividend payouts, such as a just lately announced distribution of about $3 per share.
While other big video games publishers have dealt with soaring manufacturing costs and new competitiveness from the cell market place by slicing their launch schedules to a minimal of blockbusters and legacy IP, PlayWay has repeatedly expanded its output. In excess of the final 12 months, the enterprise launched 28 new titles, and it has a lot more than 100 new titles in advancement. There is a 1st-individual president simulator, a wedding day planner simulator, an animal shelter simulator, a drug dealer simulator, a cooking simulator, a truck constructing simulator, a crime scene inspector simulator, a gold mining simulator, a soccer referee simulator, a paleontologist simulator, an autopsy simulator, a moon colony simulator, a 911 operator simulator, a pope simulator, and even a Jesus simulator. There are so many games in the operates, even Krzyysztof Kostowski, PlayWay’s founder and CEO, has hassle maintaining monitor. “It’s from us?” he asked when I stated Dolphin Trainer VR in the course of a check out to one of the company’s workplaces in Warsaw this summer months.
To make this higher-quantity solution to publishing do the job, PlayWay relies on a big network of exterior advancement studios, a lot of of which are staffed by just a handful of individuals operating remotely. One particular studio, Baked Online games, is at the moment acquiring three video games with PlayWay from its headquarters in a tiny home on a household road in Czeladź, an hour outdoors of Krakow. PlayWay is currently partnered with 120 these types of studios in Poland—more than a quarter of the 440 complete in Poland nowadays. This tactic has assisted PlayWay retain its possess comparatively small size—by triple-A publisher standards—with just 40 complete-time workforce, mainly QA testers and some finance and marketing executives. For comparison, CD Projekt Purple employs extra than 900 men and women, and EA has around 9,800 staff members.
In lieu of lavish marketing strategies, PlayWay works by using no cost demos and stand-by yourself prologues to boost approaching titles, hoping to build word of mouth by giving absent free of charge samples of a larger sized video game idea that will become a full solution at some later date. (In excess of the final 12 months, 12 of the company’s 28 releases have been absolutely free prologues or demos.) The firm feeds off its earlier successes by constantly swapping new titles into the proposed slots on the Steam store page for its largest hits to bring in gamers to its latest releases. PlayWay employs audience suggestions from these totally free demos and prologues, in individual the number of players who insert titles to their Steam wishlist, to determine which games must get additional funding for promotion and article-release articles.
Some players have criticized PlayWay as a kind of pyramid scheme for the notice overall economy, manipulating players with an unlimited array of new titles that may hardly ever create beyond tough sketches, clunky collections of environments, goods, and activity lists. On Polish gaming discussion boards, it is from time to time derided as a “trailer company” as an alternative of a activity publisher, a single additional intrigued in generating internet marketing content than finished online games. Kostowski disputes this description, insisting that the firm will launch each individual video game it announces. And even though there may well be generation delays, he says the business is often as clear as doable about schedule variations via updates to developer weblogs and bulletins on each game’s Steam web page.