We were not ready: The failed attempt to compete with GTA in Spain with an open-world game from the other side of the law

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There is generally little information about how PROEIN SA stopped being a mere family business importing goods to becoming a powerful distributor that would include not only Pyro (responsible for the legendary saga Commandos) but also Illion, an animation company that signed the movie Planet 51, a milestone for Spanish 3D animation. It was a slow transition process: José Antonio Pérez Ramírez was primarily focused at the end of the 1970s on bringing all kinds of luxury products to Spain (Davidoff cigars, Gucci glasses, watches, sports clothing) until he discovered electronic toys (both chess and portable arcades) and software for personal computers. The company grew in a familial way, without a true business structure until the early 90s when Ignacio Pérez Dolset took over the management to introduce it professionally into the world of national and international game distribution. Hits like the licenses for Tomb Raider or the bet on the Colin McRae series multiplied their profits to the point of considering founding a company for the development of their own video games that had international projection.

Pyro was the answer in the late 90s, with a shared development between a pirate game and a tactical game with the Second World War in the background. EIDOS, without much conviction, agreed to finance much of the development of the second game, baptized as Commandos, which turned out to be a worldwide success with millions of units sold. Involved later in other franchises like Praetorians or Imperial Glory, it is not surprising that Pyro once again attempted to aim for the stars.

“What do we do now? The short answer is COPS”.

This was a project that at its peak involved no less than 80 people, but there is very little information about it. Perhaps because the development was a catastrophe, a collapsed black hole that absorbed an unreasonable amount of money in exchange for very little tangible material. Let’s not deceive ourselves, at this time Pyro was a solvent studio in the late 90s and in the first decade of the 21st century, but with significant dysfunctions. Their projects had been resolved, as is usual in Spain, with insufficient resources, a lot of individual talent, and leadership shortcomings. Gonzalo Suárez, the author of games like Goody, was one of the main responsible for the development of both titles and had “burned” the ships to release the two games on the market, and for the development of Commandos 3, he was no longer on the (singed) boat. The projects were the result of personal inspirations and of people capable of producing what would have been characteristic of a structured group with a much larger size. There wasn’t an internalized philosophy of “team”, not at least in the sense of the large companies experienced in major developments. This was what was missing in Pyro: knowledge of how to approach a major project from a solid structure and with sustained dynamic.

That’s it…

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