Poland is one of the oldest recorded sovereign countries in Europe (it's roots dating back to IX-X century AD) and 9th largest country in Europe with over 312,679 square kilometers of territory. It has a population of over 38 million people and is one of the most populous members of the EU. It also has one of the biggest immigration communities in many countries, including large polish minority in US (about 10 million Polish Americans), UK (about 1 million, counting the old, WWII era and the newest immigration), South America (with largest community in Argentina) and such abstract places for Poles to be like Haiti (thanks to Napoleonic Alliance with Poles).
History and Military
Poland is member of all major international organisations like the European Union, NATO, UN, WTO. In the WWII Poland lost over six million of its citizens. Half of them were Polish Jews. Poland made the fifth-largest troop contribution to the Allied war effort, after the Soviets, British, Americans and Balkan Nations ( Serbians, Croatians and others). Polish scientists and soldiers also contributed many technologies (like mine detector) and were the main decipherers of german encryption machine - ENIGMA.
As one of the main allied forces taking part in war effort, polish soldiers are mentioned and play a big part in many World War II games ( Company of Heroes, Codename: Panzers, General series, Close Combat, Combat Mission, Hearts of Iron and dozen others) or are playable characters ( Call of Duty 3).
As the polish history, especially in military conflicts, is very rich, many strategy oriented games also include polish forces. Total War games (especially Medieval I, Medieval II and Empire) and Europa Universalis series give a lot of attention to polish side of conflict.
The polish elite special forces, GROM, are going to be prominently featured in the upcoming Medal of Honor: Warfighter.
It's interesting that Poland shares frontiers with seven countries: Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany. Being between Russia and Germany, and in constant danger of war not only with it's neighbours, but with the invaders coming even from the middle and far east for centuries, might explain the "warrior attitude" of polish soldiers in any given historical period. In late middle ages Poland even gained the "Defensive wall of Christianity" nickname, stopping many invasions threatening the whole western Europe.
Polish gaming community is one of the most dedicated in the world and one with the longest tradition of "mastering" a lot of titles. Years ago, before the Internet was widespread, biggest polish developers and game magazines organised huge LAN parties for fastly growing numbers of fans of such titles as Quake and Counter Strike.
Nowadays, polish proffesional gamers have earned many rewards in the largest gaming tournaments. Poland's game of choice is Counter Strike, and polish teams (The best known are AGAiN Team and Frag Executors) have won the highest prizes in many CS tournaments, including the largest game olympics - World Cyber Games. Another titles which gave Poland a lot of recognition among proffesional gaming community are Warcraft III (and it's highly popular mod - DoTA), Starcraft, Enemy Territory, FIFA and Quake III.
Polish game developers and publishers
- People Can Fly - The most recognizable polish developer among western gamers, thanks to it's smash hit - Painkiller. Due to it's developers' talent in programming, PCF was bought by Epic Games and under it's wings released another worldwide bestseller title: Bulletstorm. The studio was also responsible for PC port of Gears of War and it is now developing the newest game in the franchise - Gears of War: Judgment.
- CD Projekt - One of the largest polish publishers and developers, with offices all over Europe. In Poland it's best known for it's humongous translations of english games - in the '90s it made very well recieved translation works of such hits like Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment (still regarded as one of the best translations not only in Poland, but in the world). For western gamers, CD Projekt is known thanks to The Witcher and it's sequel, developed by it's programming branch - CD Projekt RED. The company is also responsible for acclaimed Good Old Games website (direct link to gog.com) .
- Techland - One of the oldest and well remembered polish companies involved in game development and publishing. Western gamers might remember Xpand Rally, Chrome, and, probably Techland's most recognizable franchises - Dead Island and Call of Juarez.
- Cenega Poland - Another huge game publisher, specialising in eastern developers like 1C, and has it's branches in many eastern european countries. It also has a lot of agreements with western comapnies, like 2K.
- LEM (Licomp Empik Multimedia) - Third largest publisher in Poland. A gaming office of EMPiK stores, which is an equivalent of american Border's - huge bookstore with comic books, CDs and games thrown into the mix. Thanks to EMPiK's popularity in Poland, LEM gained many licenses from western developers and has an exclusive deal with such companies as Activision - Blizzard.
- City Interactive - At the beginning it was infamous in Poland thanks to low budget, low quality games, but has since repaired it's reputation and opened it's branches in many countries, including developing and publishing offices in US, UK, Germany and many others. In 2008 and 2009 it was one of the fastest growing game companies in the world - low budget games (in Poland sold for less than 5$) helped to raise funds for more serious projects. It's newest title - Sniper: Ghost Warrior, was well recieved by critics and gamers.
Of course there are many others, smaller game companies and branches of large western developers, like Ubisoft, EA or Sony.
Polish Microsoft Live situation
Polish gaming community, despite having it's own branch of Microsoft, Xbox 360 and Games for Windows titles sold legally everywhere, was furious because of lack of properly working Live service. It caused a lot of commotion in the community and a huge wave of pirated games and consoles as a form of "protest" against Microsoft's strange publishing methods. The situation has luckily changed at last, after a lot of fuss and, since November 2010, Poland has it's legal, dedicated Live service. To apologize polish players Microsoft Poland made special offer for them. Every account that would change country to Poland is rewarded with 800MSP or 1600MSP depending if there was any Marketplace item putchased on it before.