|Industry||Computer and video games
|Headquarters||Prague, Czech Republic|
|Marek Španěl (CEO)
|Products||Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis
Number of employees
|Divisions||Bohemia Interactive Simulations (previous)|
Black Element Software
Bohemia Interactive is a video game development studio and publisher, based in Prague, Czech Republic. The company focuses on creating military simulation games such as Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis and the ARMA series. It was also famed for working on a game conversion of the DayZ mod created for ARMA 2.
Founded by Marek Španěl in 1999, the studio released its first game in 2001, a military shooter titled Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, which received critical acclaim and brought recognition for the studio. Following Operation Flashpoint was a series of downturns, such as porting the game to Xbox, which led to huge financial losses and the development of a sequel later abandoned by the publisher Codemasters. The studio fell into financial troubles until the United States Marine Corps employed the studio to create simulation games to train soldiers. A new division called Bohemia Interactive Simulations was created, and later spun off and become a standalone business entity. Following Codemasters' decision of not supporting the studio, Bohemia Interactive decided to develop a spiritual successor to Cold War Crisis titled ARMA: Armed Assault. It was both a critical and financial success, spawning a number of sequels. Smaller projects such as Take On Helicopters were also released.
In 2012, Dean Hall produced a massively popular mod for ARMA 2 that prompt the studio to develop a standalone game. The same year saw the arrest of two employees of Bohemia, who were charged with espionage by Greece and jailed for 129 days. This event had significantly lowered team morale and forced the team to rename the ARMA 3's setting to a fictional one. The company is now working on several new projects, including preparing DayZ for an eventual full release and developing Ylands, a sandbox game which was part of Bohemia Incubator, a platform for Bohemia Interactive to release small, experimental projects.
Bohemia Interactive was founded by Marek Španěl. He aspired to become a game developer in the 1980s, after his brother was convinced to buy a Texas Instruments 99/4A computer rather than five different watches. Španěl first worked as a salesman for a game distribution company until he, along with his brother and another partner, decided to develop a game in 1997 using the money given by his former employers. He officially founded Bohemia Interactive in 1999.
Their first game was codenamed Poseidon, which was a first-person shooter with a heavy focus on realism. At that time, the team expanded significantly, from having only one full-time programmer, to having 12 full-time employees by the end of the game's development. According to Španěl, the entire development team was very enthusiastic about the game and was focused on creating a game that they "wanted to play", thus opting not to study the works of another development team. Poseidon suffered from an extended development cycle of over three years, causing some of its technologies to become outdated, and frequent changes of publishers causing uncertainties regarding the game's funding. Despite these development issues, Poseidon was successfully released in June 2001 under the official title Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis by Codemasters to critical acclaim. It was shipped without any game-breaking bugs, and it became an international success, selling more than 500,000 copies in its first three months of release, as well as reaching a top position in retail sales chart across the world including US, UK, Germany and Australia. The team was satisfied with the game's release, with Španěl describing it as a dream coming true. Bohemia Interactive won Best Debut at the Game Developers Choice Awards, defeating strong opponents including Remedy Entertainment (Max Payne).
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. 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. The reason for the long development cycle stemmed from the team's unfamiliarity with the console's structure. 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 development suffered a huge financial loss. In 2005 the company also founded the Independent Developers Association (IDEA) 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.
The team started developing a sequel to Operation Flashpoint, codenamed Game 2, after they canceled their open world Western-themed project, which was described as "Flashpoint in Western" by Španěl. The team had lots of ambition for Game 2 and hoped that it would become a perfect game, thus the team began spending an excessive amount of time on small details, from doing 3D scanning of real-life weapons to modeling the player character's eyeball. However in doing so some basics were neglected by the team, and many goals remained unattained due to the team's skill and technology status. As a result, the team constantly missed the deadlines set by publisher Codemasters. Codemasters was dissatisfied with the team's work and began looking for outside help. Bohemia disagreed with the search for outside assistance, and the two studio decided to part way with each other. With Codemasters no longer supporting the studio financially, Bohemia entered a series of financial troubles. In addition, Codemasters retained the rights to Operation Flashpoint preventing Bohemia from using the title in the future.
In the early 2000s, the US Army began using a mod of the first Operation Flashpoint, named DARWARS Ambush!, to train soldiers. In financial distress, Bohemia capitalized on its use and made a small sum of money, saving the company from falling into immediate bankruptcy. Bohemia also set up a new division called Bohemia Interactive Simulations, specializing in creating military simulation games with its Virtual Battle Space titles for armies around the world to use. Meanwhile, the main studio, realizing that they should release a game as soon as possible, decided to rework on Elite' engine and make a spiritual successor to Cold War Crisis called Armored Assault, later renamed ARMA: Armed Assault. According to Španěl, the team hated the title. Bohemia decided to self-publish the game, and launched in an early access form. The game received high critical praise and great sales, sufficient enough to save the company.
The development of a sequel to ARMA commenced afterward. The team decided to reuse some of its assets of Game 2 for ARMA 2, and did not hold unrealistic ambitions for the game. A Xbox 360 version was planned but was later scrapped after the team thought that its power was inferior to that of personal computers. 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. 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. The team became anxious, but found relief after viewing gameplay footage Dragon Rising', which they to be subpar and "[did] not come even close to what they promised". ARMA 2 was released in mid-2009 to high critical praise and high sales. The development team soon began work on an expansion titled Operation Arrowhead, though Codemasters took legal actions to force Bohemia to change its name due to its similarity with Operation Flashpoint. In early 2010s, the company continued to develop expansions for ARMA 2, and released smaller titles such as Take On Helicopters.
Following the release of Operation Arrowhead, the company started development of a new ARMA game, this time set in the future. Titled Arma Futura, it was developed in conjunction with Bohemia's newly acquired company, 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 Greek media reported in 2012 that two Czechs were arrested on the Greek island Lemnos, the setting for ARMA III after being charged with espionage. This was later confirmed to be Martin Pezlar and Ivan Buchta, both of them employees at Bohemia Interactive. The main reason for their charge is that they took photos of military installations, which under Greek law threatened their national security. Charges were refuted, and both of them insisted that they were traveling the island for entertainment only. If convicted, the duo faced a 20-year sentence. This soon became a diplomatic concern, with Czech President Václav Klaus urging the Greek President to solve this issue with "special attention". Bohemia also made efforts by motivating its ARMA communities to petition to pressure Greece for the pair's release. During this period of time, team morale dropped. Carrier Command: Gaea Mission was released by the studio , but according to Španěl, "nobody at the studio really cared" because their friends were stranded in a foreign jail. Regardless, Pezlar and Buchta were held in prison for 129 days until the Greek government allowed them to be released on bail. After this incident, the team decided to renamed ARMA 3' setting from Lemnos to a fictional island called "Altis". Arma III was eventually released in August 2013 to positive critical reviews. Two mobile ARMA games, ARMA Tactics and ARMA Mobile Ops, were released in 2013 and 2016 respectively.
In 2012, Dean Hall, an employee at Bohemia working on ARMA 3, released a massively popular mod for Arma II named DayZ, which includes zombies as the game's main enemies. Its popularity led to a resurgence in ARMA 2's sales, with registered players count being raised from 500,000 to one million. Impressed with the success of DayZ, Bohemia appointed Hall to fully capitalize on it by leading the development of a standalone DayZ video game, which ensured that he would not be limited by the restraints of Arma 2. While the main goal is to transit the mod into an entirely new game, the team also intended to add more content such as base-building and improved crafting. Hall eventually left Bohemia in 2014, and the game remained in early access more than four years after its release in December 2013.
In November 2016, the company announced Bohemia Incubator, a platform for the development of experimental games. According to Bohemia Interactive, the incubator aimed 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. Two titles were announced as part of the incubator. This includes Ylands, a sandbox game, and Argo, a free-to-play shooter without microtransactions released in June 2017.
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. 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. Meanwhile, Bohemia followed up their first game, Cold War Crisis with a spiritual successor called ARMA: Armed Assault, which was followed up by two sequels, ARMA 2 and ARMA 3, both of which have been critically acclaimed and financially sustainable. 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. However, both titles are smaller in scope when compared with the ARMA franchise.
|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||Shield Portable|
|ARMA 3||Microsoft Windows|
|2016||ARMA Mobile Ops||iOS, Android|
|2017||Take On Mars||Microsoft Windows|
|TBA||DayZ (Steam's early access title)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|Ylands||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
Bohemia Interactive prides themselves on open communication with players. 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. The company also sometimes let players to help out with game design process. It invited players to the Czech studio to help with the design of the first Operation Flashpoint, and released several titles via early access, a way in which early build of a game is released for the community to test and play. Many of Bohemia Interactive games are moddable, a focus since the release of the ARMA: Armed Assault. This helps to increase the longevity of their games significantly and keep the player base engaged in their games for an extended period of time. The company awarded players who create user-generated content with their games in 2009 during the BIS Community Awards and announced a modding competition called "Make Arma Not War", in which modders must create mods that shift ARMA's focus from war into anything else. Bohemia Interactive also took a stance against pirating with their DEGRADE technology, which would automatically create technical issues to pirated copies. For instance, in Take On Heliciopters, pirated copies' visuals would be extremely blurry, whereas copies bought legitimately would not suffer from the same issue. The team also bought a T-72 tank in order to express graitutde to "everyone who has supported the studio and its games throughout the past 16 years".
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. 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.
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