Dead Cells' designer livid at former studio for ending support for the game in 'worst a**hole move imaginable'

Dead Cells' protagonist is in a cell.
(Image credit: Motion Twin)

Late last week came the news that, seven years after its early access release, original developers Motion Twin and DLC developers Evil Empire will be ending work on Dead Cells. Evil Empire was set up as a satellite studio to support the game and had been working on it for over five years, creating four DLCs and 18 updates including the recent (and excellent) Castlevania crossover, but now says it's moving on to "secret projects". 

The news didn't seem like an enormous surprise: Dead Cells has been wildly successful, and has had great post-launch support, but it's now an absolutely huge game and seven years of updates seems pretty healthy. But the game's designer, Sébastien Benard, has a very different take: this guy is absolutely furious about it, and seems to think Evil Empire is being thrown under the bus.

Benard was asked about the announcement on the official Dead Cells Discord server (first spotted by rogueliker), and his answer is stark: 

"Since you're asking me, I'd just say [Motion Twin] did the worst imaginable asshole move against Dead Cells and [Evil Empire]," writes Benard. "Having seen first hand the actual situation behind the scenes, I can honestly say I'm glad to not be part of this anymore. The official statement is total marketing bullshit, the way this situation happened is on a whole different level.

"I never imagined my former co-op studio would turn out to be such greedy people. I wish the absolute best to EE for their next things, and hope people working there will survive this sudden economic cut."

Benard elaborated on those comments in a blog post which criticizes Motion Twin for "a one-way strategy that leaves people behind" and praises Evil Empire for having "a true love for the franchise."

The accusations of greed and some of the language here are certainly eyebrow-raising, though it's worth remembering that Motion Twin was established as a worker collective and Benard undoubtedly has firm ideas about how it should operate. 

Benard spent 19 years at Motion Twin before leaving in the wake of Dead Cells' success, and apparently not on the best of terms. At the time he wrote that, following Dead Cells' launch and success, he'd moved onto prototyping future games but his "relations with the team became more and more complicated"—so complicated that he was "asked to leave in December 2019."

His words on Motion Twin are pretty scathing stuff nevertheless, and an unexpected reaction to a relatively low-key announcement.

Correction: This story originally named Sébastien Bénard as a Motion Twin co-founder. He was an early employee, but not a co-founder of the studio. PC Gamer regrets the error.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."