How a small Eastern European nation became one of the hottest regions for video game development
by MATT BERTZ
Standing in the middle of Warsaw’s city center, if you blink quickly you could easily mistake the Polish capital for an American city. Unlike the picturesque vision many have in their heads of European hubs, the city isn’t just a serpentine tangle of one-lane cobblestone streets, historical landmarks, and open-air cafes. While you can certainly find neighborhood pockets that feed that stereotype, this part of the city is surprisingly modern. Wide streets with multiple lanes cut a swath through the neighborhood. Netflix advertisements for its latest original series adorn the sides of high-rises, and Uber Eats deliverymen zoom down the streets bringing lunch to the hundreds of multinational corporations that call the area home.
The modern aesthetic shouldn’t be surprising given Poland’s impressive upward trajectory. Since it joined the European Union in 2004, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has surged remarkably year over year, making it the second largest economy among Central and Eastern European Countries (CEEC), behind Germany. Polish game companies have played a big role in this economic growth. Nearly 300 game studios call the country home. Shares of the larger game companies like CD Projekt and 11 bit Studios are even traded on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. But eras of peace and prosperity like this have been few and far between in the country’s history.
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