Techland on Dead Island's divisiveness: "do you like sushi?"

"When a game divides people, it means that it has a lot of character."

Dead Island divided people like an oscillating autopsy saw. One person's buggy mess was another person's acquired taste.

We foresaw cult status in our Dead Island review, but we didn't expect multi-million, best seller success.

Despite the merry chimes of tills ringing, talking to Techland has been difficult. A rotten corpse-load of bugs, as well as lingering sexist game code, meant most of the initial PR effort was spent fighting fires.

Then, when Eurogamer wrote less than flattering reviews of Dead Island DLC Bloodbath Arena and Ryder White, the doors to Techland became harder still to pry open.

I'll just leave this foreboding autopsy saw here for your imagination.

Until now, that is. More than half-a-year after release, Techland's finally ready to discuss Dead Island's divisive release with Eurogamer.

"Do you like sushi?" international brand manager Blazej Krakowiak riposted. "And are you right or wrong?

"Games are entertainment, it's really down to whether someone likes them or not. I will never resent a reviewer for not liking a feature or an idea in our game. What I feel very strongly about is giving games a fair chance: playing long enough to get a good feel of what it's about, getting the facts right, writing from experience.

"When a game divides people," he told us, "it means that it has a lot of character, that it isn't bland or easy to overlook. It's a calculated risk whenever you try something new."

Exactly how many copies Dead Island has sold we're not allowed to know. Techland deferred us to publisher Deep Silver, which declined to comment. Ditto DLC sales figures.

Nevertheless, Techland doesn't look back on Dead Island as a runaway success. There were problems there, and Techland accepted this.

"When a game divides people, it means that it has a lot of character, that it isn't bland or easy to overlook. It's a calculated risk whenever you try something new."

Blazej Krakowiak, international brand manager, Techland

"Dead Island was a very successful game and the development team is proud of their work," Krakowiak remarked.

"At the same time, it's true that we can learn a lot from every project and every release. We already have new procedures and tools in place to prevent issues which arose during the game's launch. We also have countless exciting ideas and improvements we want to implement in our future projects.

"Dead Island wasn't perfect at launch," he admitted, "but I believe that it was pretty damn good."

Dead Island outperformed Deus Ex: Human Revolution in the UK charts - a game with hefty heritage, critical adoration and meaty marketing. Deus Ex: Human Revolution had sold 2.18 million copies as of 30th September 2011. Dead Island had apparently shipped three million units by the end of last year. Exactly how the two stack up today is unknown.

"It's very difficult to put a game's commercial performance down to just one factor," answered Krakowiak. "Everything matters: fun factor, replayability, gameplay time, variety, price.

"Review scores are such a factor - a really important one - but in the end, everything is judged by the gamers, our customers. We are honoured that more of them chose Dead Island than many other excellent games."

Online four-player co-op helped Dead Island make a mark. Krakowiak said gamers have spent a combined 60 million hours playing Dead Island this way. "One of the things Dead Island taught us is how massive a game becomes with four-player co-op," he noted, seemingly earmarking the feature for future inclusion.

"Dead Island wasn't perfect at launch, but I believe that it was pretty damn good."

Blazej Krakowiak

Today, Techland is reportedly hard at work on a Game of the Year Edition of Dead Island. This will presumably bundle the DLC and, we hope, provide a much more stable base from which to enjoy the open world horror RPG.

There may even be more DLC on the way.

"The Dead Island player community is still very active and we keep getting requests for new features and ideas for new content," Krakowiak shared. "We're looking at options available to us but we don't have anything to announce at this time."

Whether there's a Dead Island sequel on the way is a question left unanswered, as is, bizarrely, the question of which studio will make it.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.


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