The designers of WW2 skirmish board game Heroes of Normandie have slammed publisher Pig From Hell Games’ owners after being informed over email that the business was being liquidated.
Pig From Hell’s predecessor company, Devil Pig Games, hit severe financial issues in 2018 after taking on more Kickstarter projects than it was able to deliver, and was bought out by The Board Game Strategist, run and owned by Matagot CEO Arnaud Charpentier.
The business seemed to recover, delivering successful Kickstarters for Heroes of Normandie: Big Red One Edition and Heroes of Normandie: Battle for Caen, and raising almost €150,000 in April this year to create and produce Heroes of the Pacific.
But the ‘Heroes of’ series co-designer Clément Seurat has revealed that during the latest Kickstarter campaign Charpentier shared concerns about Pig From Hell’s financial health, and tried to get Seurat to persuade another team member to resign to cut costs.
Seurat said he instead agreed to terminate his own contract at the end of November this year, “to ease the financial burden and allow the business to continue”, while continuing to work on delivering Heroes of the Pacific in the mean time – although the staff member he was trying to save left the company regardless during the summer.
He added that his ‘Heroes of’ co-designer Yann Uhart was then dismissed by Charpentier after a “serious disagreement”, and is now suing the business.
A statement from Seurat, Uhart and Pig From Hell graphic designer Jules Kanou said, “With these three salaries saved, it seemed to us that the company’s financial situation would allow the delivery of Heroes of the Pacific and a light follow-up of the ranges.
“That’s why Jules and Clem didn’t slam the door and kept on working, encouraged by Arnaud, to deliver the files on time, which they managed to do at the end of the summer, just one month behind schedule.
“Once this task had been completed, Arnaud insisted that we start preparing a Kickstarter campaign for Heroes of Stalingrad V2. It was also decided that we should simultaneously carry out graphics and editing work for a third party game published by Matagot. This situation lasted throughout September.
“Arnaud then asked us to stop working on Heroes of Stalingrad, and on September 29, 2023, he announced that Pig From Hell’s credit card had been hacked.
“He told us no more, but a few days later, the Pledge Manager was shut down without warning. When we asked, by mail, the person in charge of the Pledge Manager to explain the situation, he replied that he has been instructed not to communicate on the subject.”
The trio said they did not receive their salaries at the end of September, with Charpentier saying he would be able to explain more towards the end of the following month.
But the statement continued, “On October 3, we were astonished to find that orders placed on our website were not being delivered. We asked, via Discord, what was going on, and were told by an employee of the company responsible for deliveries (also owned by The Board Game Strategist) that they too had been instructed to stop handling orders placed with Pig From Hell.
“We noted, therefore, that the website was still accepting orders even though it had been decided to stop deliveries. We don’t know whether they will be honored.
“A few days later, on October 11, the website finally closed its doors, again without warning, depriving the community of its forum. We asked management for at least a press release, and this message was published without our agreement:
“Devil Pig Games is facing serious difficulties due to recent unforeseen and brutal events beyond our control. We are making every effort to find a long-term solution, but until this has been fixed we are stopping all operations. As soon as these troubles cease we will resume our activity and inform you.
“We asked Arnaud for more information, but the only reply we got was: ‘I can’t tell you anything before October 26th. By the way, can you deliver the files for that 3rd party game?’ “We refused to comply… that was quite an ask when they left us unpaid and scrambling in the dark.”
The trio received an email from Charpentier several days ago confirming Pig From Hell Games has “ceased all activity”, with Selarl Philae appointed as a liquidator.
Some backers of Heroes of the Pacific have also received a similar message from Selarl Philae, confirming the liquidiation and asking them to apply to be recognised as a debt holders in the business.
A subsequent update to Heroes of the Pacific backers from Seurat, Uhart and Kanou in the wake of the liquidation confirmation said, “We can only imagine the ‘courage’ it took for [Charpentier] to tell us in this way, with such humanity and compassion… Not to mention the lack of respect for the community he showed by not communicating with you about the situation.
“Everything was done behind our backs, without keeping us informed.”
BoardGameWire attempted to contact Charpentier for comment via email and through the Matagot website, but it yet to receive a response.