The Long Dark creator apologizes to Manor Lords team after criticism of the hit city builder's early access cadence draws comparisons with his cult survival game

The Long Dark
(Image credit: Hinterland Studio)

The creator of cult survival game The Long Dark has apologized to the team behind smash-hit city builder Manor Lords after criticizing its update cadence.

Last week, Hinterland CEO and The Long Dark director and writer Raphael van Lierop hit out at Manor Lords, prompting a response from its publisher's CEO, Tim Bender. At the time, van Lierop argued that "Manor Lords is a pretty interesting case-study in the pitfalls of Early Access development," due to its relatively slow update cadence thanks to its very small development team. In response, Bender stated that "not every game" should be a live service-style conveyor belt of updates.

"Manor Lords just sold 250,000 copies in the last month — after selling over two million copies in its first three weeks — and has a Very Positive review rating of 88% with a median playtime of eight hours 48 minutes per player (very long for any game, especially a recently released one)," Bender argued. "Players are happy, the developer is happy, and we as publisher are thrilled beyond belief."

Since Bender's comments, van Lierop has edited his original LinkedIn post to apologize for his comments. An updated version reads that "I should have found a better way to frame my original feedback, without referencing a specific game." The Long Dark director apologizes to Hooded Horse as well as Manor Lords developer Greg Styczeń "for any negativity" his original message may have spawned. He goes on to "reassure everyone reading this that I am firmly pro-developer and anti-crunch," and asks that any negative feedback towards him is not inadvertently directed toward his colleagues at Hinterland.

Some of the criticism van Lierop faced has stemmed from The Long Dark's own particularly sedate journey through development. Despite gaining a large following, The Long Dark spent three years in early access before its full release in 2017, but since then it's been making very slow progress through its story mode. The first episode of its narrative was due to release in 2014, but ended up arriving with the full launch. Seven years after that, fans are still waiting for the fifth episode of that story, which is due to arrive later this year.

Manor Lords is still "moving forward," even as the city builder's creator takes a well-deserved minibreak amid its Unreal Engine 5 move.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.