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Dead Cells lead designer unhappy with ‘abrupt’ decision to end development

Image: Motion Twin

Former Dead Cells lead designer Sébastien Bénard has spoken out on Motion Twin and Evil Empire’s announcement to end creative work on the wildly popular indie roguelike.

Bénard, who left Motion Twin as an associate to form Deepnight Games in 2020, shared a post on his official website, clarifying his thoughts on the game. This follows an admittedly “impulsive” response given by the developer on the official Dead Cells Discord server, where he said “…I’ll just say that (Motion Twin) made the worst holeshot move imaginable against Dead Cells and (Evil. Empire)” (via PCGamesN and PCGamer) .

In today’s post, Bénard begins by apologizing for his passionate statement on Discord, saying “It was late, my words were definitely a little impulsive, and I really apologize for the blunt words.” He then elaborates on his feelings by discussing his relationship with Motion Twin, with whom he worked as an associate for 19 years.

“Back when (Bénard and Motion Twin) were making dozens of browser/Flash games. Our short-term strategy was: release, update a little, abandon. This is not confidential information, it “That’s basically what our old player base, pre-Dead Cells era, you know, I was obviously a part of it, but as a cooperative company, decisions were made together, and I had my share of disillusionment on this subject.

Clearly, when Dead Cells became the success we all know it to be, MT decided to instantly ignore its entire web-era player base. Fun fact, our old loyal players even waited over 4 years and hundreds of requests to get the source code of long dead web games, mainly because MT didn’t care much about them.

Bénard has clearly been dissatisfied with Motion Twin’s development cycle for some time, and in his eyes, that continues with Dead Cells. Many changes have occurred at Motion Twin since the launch of Dead Cells, which Bénard returns to:

“The current Motion Twin team is made up of roughly 3 people from the old Dead Cells team, including one employee who recently joined and another who handled administrative duties. Most of the actual members of the original team are now gone (…) To be honest, the only real Dead Cells team now is basically Evil Empire who have managed to carry the flame for so long, with a real love for the franchise.

Even I didn’t trust them when we decided to give them our baby. »

Bénard acknowledges the game’s enormous success since its launch, saying that “Motion Twin was responsible for the 1st million units, while Evil Empire achieved the next 9 million (public data).” He also acknowledges that Motion Twin recently announced a new game, Blown by the windscheduled to launch in Early Access in 2024. However, Bénard sees this “abrupt” moment in Dead Cells’ development as part of a pattern.

He goes on to say that he feels like more and more media are recognizing the name Evil Empire rather than Motion Twin, “(Evil Empire) was being referred to more and more as the real perpetrators, which was Honestly quite fair, given their pedigree of support. But I guess MT didn’t like the fact that people started to notice.”

Concluding his reflection, Bénard said that he “type of understand(s)” the strategy behind the Motion Twin announcement:

“I type of understand the MT strategy: it’s a rather logical marketing move. Get rid of the Dead Cells to make way for Windblown. But as Motion Twin has always done, it’s a one-sided strategy that leaves people behind: both loyal players and EE employees. Nothing really new, unfortunately.”

Bénard’s frustration with how things played out in the conclusion of Dead Cells’ creative development is evident. Evil Empire is reportedly working on a new game, with Motion Twin stating that they “can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Dead Cells has been a huge success in over five years, and that deserves to be celebrated. We recognize that the game cannot last forever. But ahead of last week’s June 2023 announcement, Twin Motion told GamesIndustry.biz that Dead Cells “isn’t going anywhere” and that there is a content roadmap through at least the end of 2024 .

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