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Crytek's award cabinet is crammed with trophies of all sizes, but there's one that towers above all others. 'From the Crytek Staff to the Yerli Brothers,' it reads. 'Christmas 2001. You guys are No. 1.' Crytek was founded back in 1999 by the three Turkish brothers, and despite the size of the new Frankfurt office (it houses 325 people) it still feels like a family business. A lot of that's down to the immediacy of the upper management.
Overseeing multiple studios is never an easy job, but that doesn't stop CEO Cevat Yerli from personally welcoming us into the offices and talking about the company's past projects with refreshing honesty and balance. "Critics rightly said Crysis 2 wasn't Crysis," he admits openly and unprompted, before explaining what the team has learned from their past development cycles, and how they can use them to craft future titles.
The studio itself is something of a new dawn for the team. Crytek's old Frankfurt offices were located in the middle of an industrial estate. Staff were spread over two floors and, even though that division should, in theory, not have been an issue for a two-team studio, the storey-split made minute-to-minute communication tricky.
In May 2011 Crytek Frankfurt moved into a single floor of a building smack-bang in the city centre. At first glance their new premises scream German efficiency: the rooms are very bright and very white. But look closer and there are elements that betray the initially cool interior: table football, windows with Post-it notes arranged in the form of retro characters, colourful cupcakes punctured by small Crytek flags just sitting on the lounge bar for hungry workers and journos. "We still have a room full of crap," admits Nick Button-Brown, Crytek's general manager of games in a lounge that doubles up as a demo room. "It's supposed to be an AV room, but it's still a room full of crap."
Thankfully, the transition's had minimal impact on the employees' usual mix of work and play. "We do have five-a-side tournaments," continues Button-Brown. He also says there are regular Crytek game sessions, but that the teams often play other titles, too. "I just watched the dev director on one of our projects kick one of his team members' arses at Street Fighter and it was quite impressive. I didn't realise he had those skills."
Speak to most developers about deadlines and you'll hear horror stories about endless all-nighters, but here 'crunch' is something of a dirty word. You won't find people working at their desks 24/7 here, we're told, which means the staff have plenty of time to enjoy the city outside.
And it's hard not to. By offering employees free public transport tickets and free gym memberships Crytek encourages a healthy lifestyle. Free German lessons and shared apartments for new starters, helps to poach overseas talent and bring them to the skyscraper-riddled German city. So long as they keep making those cupcakes, we can't see any difficulty in them attracting new staff.