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Dead Cells Lead Designer Isn’t Happy With “Abrupt” Decision To End Development

Image: Motion Twin

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

Bénard, who left as an associate with Motion Twin 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 the developer gave on the official Dead Cells Discord server, where he stated “…I’d just say [Motion Twin] did the worst imaginable a**hole move against Dead Cells and [Evil Empire]” (via PCGamesN & PCGamer).

In today’s post, Bénard starts with an apology for his impassioned statement on Discord, saying “It was late, my words were definitely a bit impulsive, and I truly apologize for the blunt words.” He then expands on his feelings by going into his relationship with Motion Twin, with whom he worked with 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 bit, drop. It’s not some confidential information, it’s basically what our old player base, from the pre-Dead Cells era, know. I have obviously been part of that, but as a cooperative company, decisions were taken together, and I had my share of disillusion on that topic.

Obviously, when Dead Cells became the success we all know, MT decided to instantly ignore all of its past web-era player base. Fun fact, our former loyal players even waited more than 4 years and hundreds of requests to get the source code of long-dead web games, mostly because MT didn’t care much.”

Bénard has clearly been dissatisfied with Motion Twin’s cycle of development for some time, and in his eyes, this has continued with Dead Cells. A number of changes have happened at Motion Twin since Dead Cells’ launch, which Bénard goes over:

“The current Motion Twin team is more or less 3 people from the former Dead Cells team, including one employee that joined lately, and one who took care of the administrative stuff. Most of the true original team members are now gone […] To be honest, the only true Dead Cells team is now basically Evil Empire that managed to carry the flame for so long, with a true love for the franchise.

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

Bénard acknowledges the huge success of the game since its launch, saying that “Motion Twin was responsible for the 1st million units, while Evil Empire made the 9 following millions (public data)”. He also recognises that Motion Twin has recently announced a new game, Windblown, which is due 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 that more and more press outlets were recognising Evil Empire’s name over Motion Twin’s own, “[Evil Empire] was mentioned more and more as the actual authors, which was honestly quite fair, given their supportive pedigree. But I can imagine MT didn’t like the fact that people started to realize that.”

Concluding his thoughts, Bénard says he “kind of understand[s]” the strategy behind Motion Twin’s announcement:

“I kind of understand the MT strategy: it’s a rather logical marketing stunt. Get rid of Dead Cells to leave room for Windblown. But as Motion Twin always did, it’s a one-way strategy that leaves people behind: both loyal players and employees at EE. Nothing really new, unfortunately.”

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

Dead Cells has been an immense success in over five years, and that should be celebrated. We acknowledge that the game can’t go on forever. But before last week’s announcement, in June 2023, Twin Motion told that Dead Cells ” “isn’t going anywhere” and that a content roadmap up to at least the end of 2024 exists.

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