How do you follow This War of Mine? This is the game that told a story of war from a new perspective: a civilian's. Can you survive a conflict? "It sounds horrible. It is horrible. But it's brilliant," we declared in our Games of 2014 reflection piece.

This War of Mine scooped awards and was debated in prestigious mainstream publications around the world. Survivors of real wars from Kosovo, Syria, even World War 2 reached out to thank the studio for its work, I learned.

This War of Mine put Polish developer 11 bit studios - formed in 2010 - on the map.

Company stock rose from €2 to €20 on the day of release - "the biggest raise in the history of this market", PR and marketing manager Karol Zajaczkowski told me at Digital Dragons 2015. The €500,000 it cost to make the game was returned in two days on sale.

Today, the game has made something in the region of €2.5m-€3.5m, according Zajaczkowski's memory of financial reports (numbers verified by Eurogamer Poland). Exact sales Zajaczkowski can't mention because doing so would affect company stock price.

thiswar
This War of Mine.

But because of the success of This War of Mine, "the company is in the best condition ever". "We had funding before but right now we have so much money that actually we can spend even more time working on our new projects because we don't have to worry," Zajaczkowski said. The studio is also preparing to move up to the bigger Warsaw Stock Exchange next year, and for the influx of investment that should bring.

But again, how do you follow This War of Mine, a game with a particular story and punch? "We could easily do a This War of Mine 2, just change the setting," he said, sounding the obvious option aloud. "But actually we prefer to switch to another project and create something totally new.

"There's a bunch of ideas that we weren't able to put in This War of Mine because in a very specific game you can't use a lot of ideas - you can't make fun. So we have a whole [load] of new ideas we want to bring to our new project that actually will be very different to anything we've done before.

"Our next game," he added, "thanks to the success of This War of Mine, will allow us to create the biggest game so far. We are thinking that it will be the very first game from 11 bit studios that could actually be considered as a triple-A title."

He didn't want to spoil much but said it would be "nothing that you've seen from us before", which includes in the Anomaly strategy series as well as in This War of Mine. The new game will, however, tread similar tonal ground to This War of Mine.

"It will be serious and for the people who look for something more than just fun, but it won't be another survival like This War of Mine," he said.

"It will be quite challenging - not some casual stuff - and I believe that if everything goes well we will probably do the reveal and tell you more about the game in late Autumn."

Currently the studio is around 40 people, with between 10 and 15 people working on that new game. This War of Mine is currently being ported to Android and iOS, so there are people on that, and there are also people working on Anomaly and the 11 bit launchpad platform that helps indie developers on Steam.

11 bit studios will carry on supporting This War of Mine, "doing some small stuff" - "but actually at this moment I don't think we will make any big updates like the ones we've done before, because we are mostly moving people to the new project", Zajaczkowski said.

To date there have been three free updates introducing new locations, new characters, new AI, new animations and a new gameplay mode that lets you create your own group and characters - your own story. The only paid DLC was to raise money for the War Child charity, and it made around $50,000, I'm told.

So, here we are, 11 bit studios catapulted into the big league by a game it worried wouldn't find an audience big enough to warrant success.

"But it actually turned out," Zajaczkowski said, "that after 20 or 30 years of games - the majority of them simple-minded stuff that you can just enjoy and relax after work - people are starting to look for something more advanced, something that will deliver them an experience that actually doesn't have to be fun."

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Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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