How Dying Light took Techland to the big leagues

Before its launch, you’d be forgiven for having muted expectations for Dying Light.

The title, made by Polish studio Techland, was delayed, its PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 SKUs scrapped, while the boxed release was delayed until a month after its digital version.

Yet the title was a surprise hit for the Dead Island and Call of Juarez developer, shooting straight to the top of the UK physical charts upon launch and receiving positive reviews from critics.

As a whole, Dying Light did incredibly well for us,” marketing boss Pawel Kopinski says.

So far we’ve had over 8.5m registered players and that number is rising. A big part of this continual growth was thanks to the release of Dying Light: The Following Enhanced Edition. It wasn’t just the standard game and all DLC tacked on. We had the base game and added a massive expansion pack, all our updates, additional end-game content and a lot more.

We turned Dying Light into a very high value proposition with all that content packed into one copy and so a lot of new players got on board that way.”

In fact, Dying Light has been so successful that Kopinski says it has helped Techland achieve some of its lofty dreams.

It’s difficult to say exactly how many units it has sold,” Kopinski says. But the success of Dying Light has helped us secure our creative independence for many, many years to come.”

He continues: Since Techland’s inception in 1991, we’ve always been moving forward one or two steps with each project.

Dying Light‘s successes feels like we’ve taken ten steps forward. We’re now in an amazing position where we have creative and financial freedom secured for a very long time. It’s why we can readily develop two triple-A projects simultaneously while at the same time bring in other developers via Techland Publishing.

"Dying Light helped us secure our creative independence for many years to come."

Pawel Kopinski, Techland

Since we now have a lot more influence with distributors and retailers around the globe and we’ve seen the value of a fan-centric development and post-launch support system, we can now carry both of these traits over into our own game and those we bring on through Techland Publishing.”

Yes, the developer is looking to make its mark on the global publishing scene.

We want to use our 25 years of knowledge and experience to help other developers flourish globally,” Kopinski explains.

Over and above game development, we’ve already got extensive experience publishing other developers’ games for the Eastern European market. Titles like Payday 2, Sniper Elite, Telltale’s Game of Thrones series and Minecraft: Story Mode, and recently we secured the distribution for Rocket League’s physical release.

It’s thanks to this level of experience that one of the first titles we are taking globally is inXile’s Torment: Tides of Numenera. We’ve admired Brian Fargo’s work for ages so we’re really excited about this.”

One of the assumptions surrounding Dying Light was that it was originally intended to be a sequel to Techland’s previous zombie title, Dead Island – but IP owners Deep Silver picked a different studio. That’s not quite the case, although Dead Island certainly played its part.

Sequels often force you to stick to what has already been put in place quite stringently,” he says. Since we were able to start fresh with Dying Light, it was easier to try out new ideas without compromise. So things like our entire parkour movement system, our character design, the backstory, the world design… these are all things that we created solely for Dying Light.

That said, some ideas in Dying Light are from the seeds of our Dead Island days. Things like the dynamic day and night cycle or some of the weapon designs for example. These were just some things that we never got the chance to really try out until Dying Light.”

Though Techland is clearly going to be busy launching its publishing label, the firm is also looking into how to continue the Dying Light IP.

We’ve got a lot of ideas and things that we’re testing out at the moment,” Kopinski says.

Since the IP belongs to us, there is no external pressure to rush out another instalment. Our main obligation is to the fans and to ourselves to create and release something amazing when it’s ready. We want to ensure that the next big thing in Dying Light is built around ideas and concepts that really push the game to the next level.”

Ahead of the releases of both the original Dying Light and add-on The Following, Techland unveiled some unusual special editions.

The ‘My Apocalypse Edition’ for Dying Light had a price of 250,000 and included zombie survival parkour lessons and a zombie-proof shelter. Techland then upped its offering for The Following, with a $10m ‘Spotlight Edition’. For this price, consumers received a supporting role in Dying Light: The Movie, professional acting lessons, a personal trailer on set, stuntman training, screening test… the list goes on.

They were quirky marketing ideas that our fans and press thought were funny so they did the job in our opinion,” Kopinski says.

However we were totally prepared to bring them to life had someone decided to actually buy it. Nobody did though, so our ambitions of becoming interior decorators for zombie-proof houses is on hold for now.”

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