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Bohemia Interactive

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Bohemia Interactive a.s.
Private
Industry Computer and video games
Interactive entertainment
Founded 1999; 19 years ago (1999)
Founders
  • Marek Španěl
  • Ondřej Španěl
  • Slavomír Pavlíček
Headquarters Prague, Czech Republic
Key people
Products Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis
Arma series
DayZ
Revenue Increase 796.1 million (2016)[1]
Decrease 500.1 million Kč (2016)[1]
Total equity Decrease 471.9 million Kč (2016)[1]
Number of employees
Increase 346[2] (2018)
Website www.bohemia.net

Bohemia Interactive a.s. is a video game development studio and publisher, based in Prague, Czech Republic. The company is primarily known for creating military simulation games Operation Flashpoint and Arma and zombie survival game DayZ.

Officially founded in 1999, the studio released its first title Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis in 2001. The game received critical acclaim and brought recognition for the studio. Later in 2001 a sister company Bohemia Interactive Australia (later Bohemia Interactive Simulations) was founded with the focus on creating military training simulation software for NATO allied militaries.

After a prolonged period of porting Operation Flashpoint for Xbox and falling out with the publisher Codemasters the studio decided to develop a spiritual successor titled ARMA: Armed Assault. Sequels ARMA 2 and ARMA 3 followed in 2009 and 2013 respectively.

In early 2012, Bohemia Interactive employee Dean Hall created DayZ, a mod for ARMA 2, which became hugely successful. Hall later sold the IP to Bohemia Interactive and helped with the development of the standalone version. Commercial success of Arma 3 and DayZ allowed the company to grow to the current size of ~350 people, becoming one of the largest independent game development companies in the world.[2]

Currently the company is working on finishing its early access titles DayZ, Ylands and Vigor as well as the development of their proprietary game engine Enfusion.[2]

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

Bohemia Interactive was founded by Marek Španěl, Ondřej Španěl and Slavomír Pavlíček. The Španěl brothers have been developing games since 1985 under the name Suma. Their first game was Bloud for Atari 8-bit in 1987. Then they released Invaze z Aldebaranu for Atari ST in 1992 and a 3D hovercraft simulator Gravon: Real Virtuality for Atari Falcon in 1995. However, due to the fading popularity of the platform the game only sold 400 copies. In 1997 they started to work on their first game for PC codenamed Poseidon where you controlled helicopters and APCs.[3] Initially Ondřej was the only developer working on the game full-time. In 1999 they founded Bohemia Interactive with Slavomír Pavlíček.[4] With Pavlíček, then owner of the gaming store chain JRC, providing the funding, the company was able to grow to 10 people.[5]

Poseidon would eventually become Operation Flashpoint. Due to the fact that original publisher Interactive Magic was sold in 1999 and the new management didn't want the game, it suffered a prolonged development cycle.[3] According to Marek Španěl this led to the game visuals becoming outdated. However it also allowed developers to add more features than they originally planned.[5] The game was released in June 2001 by Codemasters to critical acclaim.[6] It won multiple Game of the Year awards and sold more than 500,000 copies in first three months after release. The game reached top position in retail sales charts across the world including US, UK, Germany and Australia.[4] Bohemia Interactive won Best Debut at the Game Developers Choice Awards in 2002.[4]

Following the release of Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, the team intended to continue updating the game with post-release content, develop a port for the Xbox console, and create a sequel.[4] Projected to take only nine months to develop, the Xbox version also known as Operation Flashpoint: Elite, was released in 2005, four years after the game's initial release.[7] The reason for the long development cycle stemmed from the team's struggles to fit the large amount of data into a console's limited RAM. With the release of a new generation of hardware including a new Xbox console, Elite's release did not gain its audience's attention. Sales were lackluster and the company experienced a financial loss.[4] In 2005 the company also founded the publishing label IDEA Games with Black Element Software and Altar Games. The organization aimed at supporting other independent game development studios with services including marketing support and negotiation with publishers.[8]

In 2001 Total Immersion Software developed a mod of Operation Flashpoint called DARWARS Ambush! which was used for training of United States Marine Corps. After seeing demand for serious training tool Bohemia established a spin-off company Bohemia Interactive Australia, which made Virtual Battle Space - a military training simulation software based on Operation Flashpoint technology.

The team started developing an ambitious sequel to Operation Flashpoint, codenamed Game 2. They aimed for unprecedented level of realism at that time - from 3D scanning of real-life weapons to destructable buildings. However the over-ambitious project proved to be impossible to finish due to the lack of resources and experience. After missing deadlines and the suspicion that the publisher Codemasters would try to make Operation Flashpoint 2 without Bohemia the two companies decided to part ways. Codemasters retained the rights to the name Operation Flashpoint preventing Bohemia from using the title in the future.[4]

2005–2012[edit]

With Game 2 canceled and no publisher funding the development Bohemia needed to release a new game quickly. They used improved Operation Flashpoint: Elite engine and released a new game ARMA: Armored Assault in 2006. Bohemia turned down a publishing deal for the game in order to stay independent. Without a big publisher ARMA sold 300,000 copies in the first year, which was a moderate success allowing the studio to continue making games.[4]

"We can't stop Codemasters from releasing a game using the words 'Operation Flashpoint'. But it is not right to promote this game as the ‘official sequel to the multi-award winning Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis or the ‘return' of Bohemia Interactive's ‘genre-defining military conflict simulator.' The awards were given for the game created by Bohemia Interactive – not to a name."

— Marek Španěl on the promotion of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

For Arma 2 the team decided to use content from canceled Game 2 as well as the original content. "The library of content present in Arma 2 is simply overwhelming, and in hindsight might not be commercially justifiable for a single game", Španěl noted. A Xbox 360 version was planned but was later canceled after the team realized that the new generation of consoles isn't as powerful as they thought.[4] During this period, Codemasters announced Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, a game falling into competition with Bohemia's own ARMA titles, as it was marketed as the true successor to Cold War Crisis.[9] Španěl was not happy with how Dragon Rising is being marketed as a return to the Operation Flashpoint series despite being created without the involvement of Bohemia.[10] The team became anxious, but found relief after viewing gameplay footage Dragon Rising', which they considered to be subpar and "[did] not come even close to what they promised".[4] Arma 2 was released in mid-2009. Players praised the amount of content, however many people criticised the game for the lack of polish on the initial release. Nevertheless, Arma 2 proved to be a critical and commercial success, selling over 1,000,000 copies in the first year. The development team soon began work on an expansion titled Operation Arrowhead, though Codemasters tried to take legal action to make Bohemia change its name due to alleged similarity with Operation Flashpoint.[4]

In 2010 Bohemia Interactive acquired all 3 remaining IDEA Games studios – Altar Games, Black Element Software and Centauri Production. The studios previously worked with Bohemia on various expansions and DLCs for Arma games. In 2011 Bohemia released a civilian helicopter simulator game Take On Helicopters.[11]

2012–present[edit]

In April 2012, Dean Hall, then a Bohemia Interactive employee, released a zombie survival mod for Arma 2 named DayZ.[12] Its popularity led to a resurgence in Arma 2's sales with the game being at the top of selling charts 3 years after the initial release. Impressed with the success of DayZ, Bohemia bought the rights from Hall and started a development of the standalone DayZ video game with Dean Hall in a position of Project Lead. While the original goal was to release the game before the end of 2012 with just minor technological changes from the mod, the rampart hacking in the DayZ mod community forced the team to develop MMO client-server infrastructure and grow the scope of the title.[13] The game was released on Steam in Early Access program in December 2013. After selling 3 million copies in the first 3 months Bohemia decided to re-develop DayZ in their newly made multiplatform Enfusion engine that would suit the game needs better than the aging Real Virtuality 3 engine. In order to assist with the DayZ development Bohemia opened a new office in Bratislava formed by former Cauldron employees. The game won awards for Best Original Game and Best Indie Game at Golden Joystick Awards in 2014. DayZ is slated for full release in December 2018 on PC and soon after that on XBox One and PS4.

The next game in the Arma series was supposed to be Arma Futura, developed in conjunction with Bohemia's new team in Brno, formerly Altar Games. In the game, players were intended to fight aliens, and the game's direction once shifting to role-playing. All of these futuristic elements were later scrapped, and were remade into a more realistic setting with the title eventually became Arma 3. The game was intented to take place on Greek islands Lemnos and Stratis in the fictional world in the year 2034.

Not long before the release of the game two Bohemia Interactive employees Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar were arrested while vacationing on the Greek island Lemnos and charged with espionage. The main reason for their charge was that they allegedly took photos of military installations, which is forbidden under the Greek law.[14] Many media reported the pair was on the island in an work capacity to take pictures of the military bases for the game development purposes. This was refuted by both developers and Bohemia Interactive claiming the development work on the in-game island was already finished and the photos of real military instalations would not be needed since the game is set in fictional universe in 2034.[15] Pezlar and Buchta were held in prison for 129 days until the Greek court allowed them to be released on bail.[16] The espionage charges were later lowered to "unlawful photography" and the developers received suspended sentences. After this incident, the team decided to rename Arma 3's setting from Lemnos to a fictional name "Altis".[17]

Arma 3 was released as one of the first games on Steam's Early Access program in March 2013. The final version was released in August 2013 to positive critical reviews. The game has sold more than 4 million copies making it the most successful Bohemia Interactive game.

In January 2013 the investment copmany Riverside Co. bought Bohemia Interactive sister company Bohemia Interactive Simulations. While both companies share the engine technology due to the shared past they are now completely separate entities.[18]

In 2014 Bohemia Interactive won the Best Independent Studio award at Develop Awards 2014.[19]

In recent years the company opened two new offices, one in Amsterdam and the other in Pattaya.

In November 2016, the company announced Bohemia Incubator, a platform for the development of experimental game prototypes that may or may not go to the full production. According to Bohemia Interactive, the incubator is aiming at testing designs and concepts and getting the community involved in game development, as well as being the guidance of Bohemia's other technologies including its Enfusion engine and supporting services. The projects that graduated to the full titles so far are Ylands, a creative sandbox game, and Argo, a free multiplayer shooter based on Arma 3 technology and assets.[20]

At E3 2018 a new Xbox One exclusive title Vigor was announced. It was released in Xbox Preview program on July 31, 2018.

Philosophy[edit]

Bohemia Interactive prides themselves on open communication with players.[21] The company laid out road maps in an effort to offer details on some of their post-release content, such as in the case of ARMA 3 and DayZ.[22] The company also sometimes let players to help out with game design process. Majority of Bohemia Interactive games are moddable, a focus since the release of the Operation Flashpoint. The company awarded players who create user-generated content with their games in 2009 during the BIS Community Awards[23] and announced a modding competition called "Make Arma Not War".[24] Bohemia Interactive also took a stance against pirating with their DEGRADE technology, which would automatically create technical issues to pirated copies.[25] For instance, in Take On Heliciopters, pirated copies' visuals would be extremely blurry, whereas copies bought legitimately would not suffer from the same issue.[26]

According to Joris-Jan van ‘t Land, the project lead for ARMA 3, Bohemia Interactive gives their employees a lot of freedom and autonomy. Employees can brainstorm ideas and exchange with each other, and some of these ideas may be implemented as official releases, shown through one of ARMA 3's downloadable contents, Zeus.[27] Bohemia Interactive also had a close relationship with International Committee of the Red Cross, in which they partnered together for a special award named Health Care in Danger Special Award at the Make Arma Not War competition, and Bohemia also promised to follow some of Red Cross' suggestions on how video games should handle war crimes.[28][29]

Developed games[edit]

Bohemia Interactive specialized in making simulation games with a focus on realism. They had created the military simulation game Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis as their debut game, and followed it with an expansion called Operation Flashpoint: Resistance.[30] While Codemasters developed two Operation Flashpoint sequels, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising and Operation Flashpoint: Red River, the series was put on hiatus when Codemasters announced their plans to refocus on racing games.[31] Meanwhile, Bohemia followed up their first game, Cold War Crisis with a spiritual successor[32] called ARMA: Armed Assault, which was followed up by two sequels, Arma 2 and Arma 3, both of which have been critically acclaimed.[4] The developer also had another simulation franchise called Take On, which includes Take On Helicopters, which allows players to play as a helicopter pilot, and Take On Mars, in which players explore Mars.[33] However, both titles are smaller in scope when compared with the ARMA franchise.[4]

Release Title System
2001 Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis Microsoft Windows, Linux
2002 Operation Flashpoint: Resistance Microsoft Windows
2005 Operation Flashpoint: Elite Xbox
2006 ARMA: Armed Assault Microsoft Windows
2007 ARMA: Queen's Gambit Microsoft Windows
2009 Arma 2 Microsoft Windows
2010 Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead Microsoft Windows
2011 Take On Helicopters Microsoft Windows
2012 Carrier Command: Gaea Mission Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360
2013 Arma Tactics Microsoft Windows, Shield Portable, Android, iOS
Arma 3 Microsoft Windows
2016 Arma Mobile Ops iOS, Android
2017 Take On Mars Microsoft Windows
Mini DayZ iOS, Android
Argo Microsoft Windows
2018 DayZ (currently in early access) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
2019 Ylands (currently in early access) Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
2019 Vigor (currently in early access) Xbox One

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Veřejný rejstřík a Sbírka listin". Justice.cz. December 31, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Bohemia in 2018". bohemia.net. Retrieved September 24, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Gillen, Kieron (5 October 2007). "Making Of: Operation Flashpoint". Rock Paper Shotgun. Archived from the original on 12 July 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Purchese, Robert (30 April 2014). "Bohemia's war: the story of the company behind Arma and DayZ". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  5. ^ a b Španěl, Marek (19 December 2001). "Postmortem: Bohemia Interactive Studios' Operation Flashpoint". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis for PC reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 4 September 2014. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  7. ^ Steel, Wade (30 August 2015). "Operation Flashpoint: Elite Strikes". IGN. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  8. ^ Maragos, Nick (19 December 2005). "IDEA Independent Developer Association Formed". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 10 November 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  9. ^ Gillen, Kieron (27 February 2009). "Bohemia: There's Only One Real Flashpoint Sequel". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
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  12. ^ Campbell, Colin (1 August 2012). "How DayZ Came To Life". IGN. Archived from the original on 4 August 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  13. ^ Hall, Dean (2 December 2012). "Dev Report: November 2012". DayZ Dev Blog. Archived from the original on 8 April 2018. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
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  15. ^ Campbell, Colin (13 June 2013). "After a crazy year, Bohemia is hoping for a much, much quieter life". Polygon. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  16. ^ Gera, Emily (8 February 2013). "129 days in prison: A Bohemia developer speaks out about his detainment in Greece". Polygon. Archived from the original on 1 July 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  17. ^ Fletcher, JC (2 February 2013). "Arma 3 now set on island of 'Altis'". Engadget. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  18. ^ Ribbens, Megan (January 10, 2013). "N.Y. private-equity firm buys Orlando-based Bohemia Interactive Simulations Inc". Orlando Business Journal. Retrieved 24 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Develop Awards 2014: And the winners are..."
  20. ^ Lahti, Evan (1 November 2016). "Bohemia Interactive just announced two new projects". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 3 June 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  21. ^ Hillier, Brenna (15 October 2015). "What's next for Arma 3?". VG 247. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  22. ^ Smith, Graham (27 November 2014). "DayZ's 2015 Dev Road Map Begins With A Price Increase". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  23. ^ Rossignol, Jim (15 February 2010). "BIS Community Awards Winners". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  24. ^ Lathi, Evan (5 December 2013). ""Make Arma Not War" modding competition launched with $680,000 up for grabs". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  25. ^ Grayson, Nathan (17 November 2011). "Interview: Bohemia Interactive's CEO on fighting piracy, creative DRM". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 5 July 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
  26. ^ Dutton, Fred (4 November 2011). "Take On Helicopters hides smart anti-piracy tech". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
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  33. ^ Arid, Sharif (13 February 2017). "Take on Mars lands on the Steam Store after three years in Early Access". VG 247. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017.

External links[edit]