Dead Cells Lead Designer Expresses Displeasure Over “Abrupt” Decision To End Development

Sébastien Bénard, the former lead designer on Dead Cells, has recently shared his thoughts on Motion Twin and Evil Empire’s decision to halt creative development on the immensely popular indie roguelike.

Bénard, who departed from Motion Twin to establish Deepnight Games in 2020, recently published a post on his official website, where he expressed his thoughts on the game. The developer gave this response on the official Dead Cells Discord server, expressing his strong displeasure with Motion Twin and Evil Empire’s actions. The developer’s choice of words was quite impulsive and conveyed a sense of frustration.

In today’s post, Bernard begins by expressing regret for his previous statement on Discord, acknowledging that his words may have been hasty, and apologizing for their directness. He further elaborates on his experiences by discussing his long-standing partnership with Motion Twin, whom he collaborated with for nearly two decades.

“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 expressed his ongoing dissatisfaction with Motion Twin’s development process, and he believes that this sentiment carries over to Dead Cells. Several changes have taken place at Motion Twin since the release of Dead Cells, as Bénard discusses:

“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 recognizes the immense popularity of the game since its release, noting that Motion Twin was responsible for the initial million units, while Evil Empire took charge of the subsequent nine million units (according to public data). It’s worth noting that Motion Twin has just revealed their latest project, Windblown, set to debut in Early Access in 2024. Nevertheless, Bernard perceives this “abrupt” moment in Dead Cells’ development as indicative of a recurring trend.

He expresses his observation that an increasing number of press outlets were acknowledging Evil Empire’s name instead of Motion Twin’s, noting that “[Evil Empire] was being mentioned more frequently as the true creators, which seems justified considering their impressive track record. However, it’s easy to see that MT wasn’t pleased when individuals began to catch on to that fact.

Wrapping up his analysis, Bénard expresses a partial comprehension of 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.”

Bernard’s evident frustration with the way things have unfolded in the conclusion of Dead Cells’ creative development is palpable. Evil Empire is said to be working on a new game, and Motion Twin expressed their anticipation to see what they have in store.

Dead Cells has achieved remarkable success over the span of five years, and it is definitely worth celebrating. It is worth noting that the game has a limited lifespan. Prior to the recent announcement, Twin Motion assured in June 2023 that Dead Cells was here to stay. They mentioned having a content roadmap in place that extends until at least the end of 2024.

Update 35 does not have a release date yet, but Motion Twin has assured players that they will be focusing on addressing bugs and improving the overall user experience in their final content update.