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Why Failbetter founder Alexis Kennedy left his studio

Cultist Simulator

Failbetter Games founder Alexis Kennedy is everywhere, from the fantasy realm of Thedas, to outer space. Sometimes I worry that one day I’ll be eating a sandwich and he’ll be just out of sight, writing something a bit disturbing about ham and cheese. This freedom, he tells us, is also one of the reasons why he left the studio he founded. 

Kennedy did a stint on Stellaris, one of the best 4X games on PC

“I was like a prisoner to the kind of games we designed Failbetter to make,” Kennedy tells us, “because we had this big, rich, specific world that everybody expected us to keep making games in and we had a specific way of making games – we had the technology to do particular things as well.”

He’d been writing for Fallen London, Failbetter’s enduring browser game, for seven years and was looking for a different direction. But he didn’t want to change the studio just so he could make different games.

“I could have done what some other people in my position have done and, like, laid off half the company to focus on what I wanted to do, but I had to lay off my friends once before and I never want to do it again if I can avoid it. If I could take enough money to be comfortable and leave the studio to stand on its own… So that’s what I did.”

As Failbetter grew, Kennedy also found himself unable to do the sorts of things that made him want to work in this business in the first place. “I was spending a lot of time trying to get back into fine game design work and writing work, which is what I got into the business for in the first place. And I wasn’t – I was sorting out personality issues in the team, thinking about commercial stuff, and talking to the VAT dude. I’ve had worse jobs, but it didn’t connect.”

Keep an eye out for our full interview with Alexis Kennedy, which is coming soon.