15-07-2022

FNE Film Meets Games: Q&A with Pavel Křižka, Head of PR of Czech Bohemia Interactive

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    Pavel Krizka Pavel Krizka credit: Jiri Starha, Bohemia Interactive

    PRAGUE: FNE spoke to Pavel Křižka, head of PR of Czech Bohemia Interactive, about their current activities, as well as the state of the Czech game development industry.

    Bohemia Interactive, founded in 1999, is a Czech video game developer and publisher based in Prague. The company focuses on creating military simulation games such as Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis and the ARMA series.

    Bohemia Interactive has developed two proprietary game engines; Real Virtuality™ and Enforce™. The studio also makes use of the licensed Unity engine for smaller multiplatform projects. At the end of last year, they officially introduced a brand new engine Enfusion, which will power their games in the next decade. They won the 2001 Best PC Game Developer award at London’s ECTS exhibition, Rookie Studio of the Year award at GDC 2002, and the Independent Studio 2014 award at the Develop Awards in Brighton.

    Central and Eastern Europe is one of the most important locations for global games developers and studios, and artists in the region are increasingly working for both film and games. FNE looks at how these two sectors of the entertainment industry are converging and why this trend is important for the future development of both.

    FNE: When was Bohemia Interactive founded and what have been your main missions and strategic projects so far?

    Pavel Křižka: Our studio was founded back in 1999 and it all started with a bang. The first game - Arma: Cold War Crisis (Operation Flashpoint) - exceeded all expectations from a previously unknown studio, instantly became one of the best-selling games at that time and set industry standards for open-world military sandbox games. Since then, there have been three more Arma games and the fourth - Arma Reforger - was released in early access for PC and Xbox in May this year. Military simulation games are still a mainstay of our portfolio, but players around the world enjoy our other games as well, like DayZ (open world survival), Vigor (loot and shoot game in post-apocalyptic Norway), and Ylands (creative platform for a younger audience).    

    FNE: What is the current situation in the Czech gaming industry and what distinguishes it from other countries?

    Pavel Křižka: For a relatively small country (10 million inhabitants), we have many authors of worldwide gaming hits like SCS Software, Amanita Design, Warhorse Studios, Beat Games and a few other new studios with experienced developers (many of whom learned the ropes of game development at Bohemia Interactive). Besides that, there are many talented indie studios and individuals as well. I think the success of Czech studios comes from the rich history of animation design and filmmaking in our country. These are two areas where creativity and art meet technical skills and innovation - just what you need in game making. I also believe that creative freedom in our region is more generous than you typically find with western gaming studio behemoths. Therefore, Czech games are more distinguishable. 

    FNE: The convergence of film and games is a hot topic now. What can you tell us about the relationship between the gaming industry and film in your experience?

    Pavel Křižka: Some people might be surprised by how similar making games is to making a film. In game making, there are many artistic professions needed - script writers, animators, sound engineers, music composers, graphic designers, etc. It's far from just writing code. Games and films are both audiovisual pieces of art and we are glad this opinion is growing as games become more mainstream. 

    FNE: What can you tell us about the Movie/VFX direction of your company?

    Pavel Křižka: I'd like to mention that we own a top notch motion-capture studio, helping us immensely with translating IRL sequences into digital world. Besides game development, the studio is also used by filmmakers.

    FNE: Are games going public on the Czech stock market? Do the companies which are going public include film people or projects?

    Pavel Křižka: Actually, we were very close to this decision ourselves while we were securing the stability of our company's future, but in the end, we went with a strategic minor investor (Tencent). One of the main factors for this decision was that we want to stay independent and have full control of how our games look in the end. With many different shareholders, you need to make compromises and balance things according to their opinions, and the resulting product might turn out to be quite different from what your initial idea was.

    FNE: Are there any Czech films that are being turned into games or Czech games that are being turned into films or TV series?

    Pavel Křižka: We are happy to say that a film inspired by our game DayZ is currently in production. We’re working closely with the creators and look forward to its release.

    FNE: Which Czech games would you single out that have had international success?

    Pavel Křižka: Besides our games from the Arma series and DayZ, many players from around the world might know the unique genre game Euro Truck Simulator from SCS Software, games like Machinarium and Samorost from Amanita Design with their appealing art style, or Kingdom Come: Deliverance, a game inspired by medieval Czech history. A small team from Beat Games studio has enjoyed huge success with their VR game Beat Sabre, and I also have to especially mention Some Day You'll Return with its cinematic atmosphere. There is the Space Engineers from Keen Software House, Factorio from Wube Software, and I almost forgot "blast from the past" games like Mafia, Hidden & Dangerous, and Vietcong, among others.

    FNE: How much turnover and what percentage of growth is expected in the Czech games industry? What can you tell us specifically about your company numbers?

    Pavel Křižka: Last year was very successful for us, one of the best in our 22-year history. All that despite not releasing a new game. Instead, we invested our resources into developing our new game engine Enfusion and preparing the launch of our new Arma game - Arma Reforger. Regarding the numbers, in 2021 we reached a revenue of 51.6 million USD with an EBITDA of 37.2 million USD.

    FNE: How do you see the relationship between the film and gaming industries developing?

    Pavel Křižka: Despite (as I mentioned) both industries being similar and sharing many touch points, there sadly hasn’t been a big cross-over project yet.

    Read 136 times Last modified on 18-07-2022