People Can Buy: Epic Gobbles Up Painkiller Developers

By Craig Pearson on August 13th, 2012 at 5:03 pm.

People Can Fry
This headline feels like it’s dropped in from from 2007. Back then Epic put a pile of money under a giant washing basket. Then Mark Rein waited with a length of string tied to a stick and hoped for a developer to wander underneath. Painkiller devs People Can Fly did, enticed by the money and banquet that Rein had seeded his trap with. But when the trap came tumbling down, PCF left a leg sticking out, so all Epic got was a bit of the company. As of today, Epic Games have trapped that missing leg and now fully own the Bulletstorm developers. They’ve bought the final chunk of the company from founder, Adrian Chmielarz.

Chmielarz, and other studio heads Andrzej Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki, left the company to pursue other opportunities, although the split comes across as rather amicable. What does this mean? In terms of games output I’m guessing not a lot: they’ll continue to channel their bombastic approach into the sort of games Epic are famous for: the Polish developers made Bulletstorm, and they’re currently working on Grrrrs Of Wrrrrr: Judgment for their new owners. It seems to me that they have the perfect studio to carry the Unreal series, if they fancy continuing in that direction. While the home team focus on the tech, the away team make the explosions.

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40 Comments »

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  1. pakoito says:

    This was expected after one of the head honchos left a couple of days ago.

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    RedViv says:

    I see Painkiller and the new GoW spin-off mentioned far too much as the only titles in headlines about this.
    Poor Waggleton P. Tallylicker.

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      Craig Pearson says:

      I actually had Bulletstorm in there, but changed it at the last minute because it didn’t fit. Hence the image.

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        RedViv says:

        Well, at least you don’t just drop the title in some sentence without any further remarks. So that’s far better than some games sites.
        Really just brings me down when I think about the fate of this game. It deserves to have been a way bigger deal. Oh well.

    • Vagrant says:

      Finally played through Bulletstorm at Quakecon, and man was that fun. Every headline I’ve seen for this news has made me cry a single, forlorn tear as their finest work gets swept under the rug.

      • FakeAssName says:

        and probably why the head guys left: Bulletstorm 2 was the game they wanted to make, not another tick mark in Epic’s GOW belt that most players wont even associate with People Can Fly.

        I’m guessing that when Epic got involved with PCF these head guys were repeatedly told that they would be able to make the games they wanted to instead of becoming underlings to an overlord, that didn’t happen and when Epic finally put up a big enough offer to buy out the last remaining stock of the company these guys split ….

        $10 says that most of PCF walks out once the GOW game is finished and picked up a job with whatever studio these guys start up.

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    felisc says:

    by the way, anyone has an idea who is developping Painkiller HD ? Was that the remaining arm (or leg, apparently) of PeopleCanFly ?

  4. mehteh says:

    As if making crummy console ports for idiotic gamers for EPIC wasnt bad enough now theyre going to be forced to go full retard. I hope these guys go on to make their own studio and put out some proper FPS games finally.

    • Njordsk says:

      I loved bulletstorm and gears of war. Sorry for your generalisation.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Agreed. Epic seems to be dead set on wasting PCF’s potential. Bulletstorm was decent but could’ve been better by not having the stupid cover based shooting and avoiding Epic’s awful netcode (seriously, that MP mode was unplayable due to the general latency caused by player hosted games and an engine that simply won’t work outside of low latency situations). Now they’re doing Gears of War which I don’t think Epic would allow them to completely reinvent from the ground up so all it’s going to be is another boring cover based shooter.

      • captain fitz says:

        I don’t think you played Bulletstorm… there was no cover mechanic

        • deadly.by.design says:

          You’re right. It was mostly the dick joke mechanic.

        • KDR_11k says:

          You don’t need an explicit cover mechanic for a cover shooter, the defining part is that the game flow consists of going out and fighting while taking damage and every time your damage gets too high you hide behind something until your health regenerates. This is a result of enemies using hitscan weapons that can’t be avoided so all you can do is soak it up and hide.

          • Clockwork Peanut says:

            I’m sorry but Bulletstorm evidently wasn’t a cover shooter.
            For one, I leeroyed my way through it and had a blast doing so. Apart from the heavy dudes, enemies did paltry amounts of damage, and could easily be handled without paying any attention to cover.
            To add to that, the health regeneration system actually encouraged aggressive play far more than an alternative health system – I was punished far less for leeroying in Bulletstorm than in Half Life 2 and was less aware of cover since I didn’t have to worry about health attrition.

      • Resonance says:

        Is it really so appalling the series that popularized third person cover based shooting isn’t going to ‘reinvent itself’ by taking away that mechanic…

        • KDR_11k says:

          The appalling part is that People Can Fly have to make that game. They could be making one of those rare games that aren’t cover based shooters but instead they just add another one of those dull and samey games to the pile.

  5. MistyMike says:

    PCF are technical wizards. Painkiller can work remarkably well on weak machines, Bullestorm is one of the prettiest and most reliable console games. With Epic’s backing they can go on to make great things.

  6. c4llum says:

    *dons grammar Nazi uniform*

    “This headline feels like it’s dropped in from from 2007″

  7. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Handing over Unreal to PCF actually sounds like a great idea. Let them work their Polish magic on that old gatherer of dust and see what new crazyness they can produce.

  8. MarloBrandon says:

    I nominate that title for some kind of award that needs to be created for this sort of thing.

  9. Voon says:

    Sorry if I’m off topic but goddamn that new engine’s looking nice, so far. Seems more convinient to develop with, too

  10. Sardonic says:

    Bulletstorm was an underrated masterpiece. It is a high water mark in linear FPS games, in both gameplay and storytelling.

    • Njordsk says:

      yup, and graphics.

    • westyfield says:

      But, but, GfWL. :(

    • DK says:

      Crippled by it’s two weapon limit, small linear maps, general lack of enemy numbers and just all-around consoleyness.

      Edit: Oh and the obnoxious marketing, especially the making fun of other games for random slow-mo. Then having Bulletstorm filled to the fucking brim with random slow-mo.

    • KDR_11k says:

      It had some parts that weren’t much fun though, set pieces designed to show off… something. Something that wasn’t shooting dudes in the balls. Like the collapsing skyscraper sequence, a lot of running and too little shooting.

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      Carra says:

      Masterpiece is overdoing it.

      A very fun shooter? Yeah!

  11. Radiant says:

    Bulletstorm was a hell of a lot of fun.
    Although for a precision shooter it was very hit and miss when it came to getting the pinball style shooting goals.

  12. Shooop says:

    We’ll miss you People Can Fly. Sad to loose yet another interesting and innovative group to a bloated, balding, Xbox game factory.

  13. socrate says:

    bulletstorm was extremely short and boring…the gameplay was just about making gruesome killshot for…..oh yeah because apparently in the future they reward soldier for killing people in gruesome and scripted way to give you gun upgrade i mean cmon…enemy tend to be extremely similar and end up being extremely boring to fight and in the entire game all you do is look for the best way to optimise your fight

    it also suffer the roller coaster ride syndrome of console FPS,which wasn’t even fun to begin with…then you have the stupid scoreboard multiplayer(i though only bad indie game did that stuff its worst then achievement in my eye which is alots)

    painkiller was…OK…wasn’t anything worth remembering its just a really old take on FPS and GoW….meh the only one i really found worth playing was the 3rd one and only really had fun for the tower defence style of multiplayer…the single player was still utterly empty in every single way…so its not saying alots about a franchise

    some linear FPS maker should take a look at old FPS they would see that a little bit of freedom in movement and roaming around the lvl make it ALOTS better

    • BigDaveisCheap says:

      How does it feel not having a soul? I mean do you wake up every morning with an empty feeling in your gut or are you just reminded of your lack of soul every time you cynically dismiss every single thing in the world out-of-hand?

      • lijenstina says:

        BTW “dismiss every single thing in the world out-of-hand?” is a hasty generalization too :)

  14. BigDaveisCheap says:

    Personally I hope every single one of these guys jump ship after Gears and head over to Flying Wild Hog with the other People Can Fly and CD Projekt defectors.