British developer Peter Molyneux has a long reputation for making colorful predictions about his video games. The creator of Populous and Fable is widely viewed one of the most talented individuals in the industry, and has always had a penchant for thinking big. But Molyneux also has a track record of failing to deliver on some of those big ideas, and has admitted that he sometimes gets carried away with creating hype for his titles. It's happened enough times now that some of his fans have started to roll their eyes anytime he starts making another grand prediction.
Now Molyneux finds himself embroiled in yet another controversy over his still in development game, Godus, the Kickstarter-funded sequel to Populous. Molyneux's studio 22Cans has failed to keep its promise to a young British fan who won a contest related to the game. Molyneux has taken a severe lashing in the press this week over this latest failure, and now claims that he's done talking to the media as a result.
Back in 2013, 22Cans released a mobile app called Curiosity, which asked players to solve the mystery behind a giant black cube. Molyneux teased at the time that the first player to get to the end of the game would receive an epic, life-changing prize. Then 18-year old Bryan Henderson won the game and was soon informed by Molyneux himself that he had earned the ability to serve as the "god of gods" in the multiplayer version of upcoming title Godus. But the big promise was that Henderson would also receive a percentage of all revenue brought in by the game for the duration of his reign as the top god.
Henderson was given a tour of the 22Cans studio, received an opportunity to play the game that he would soon rule over, and then went home to wait for Molyneux and his team to finish and release the title. It seems that's about the time when everything fell apart.
Henderson told EuroGamer in a story published this week that 22Cans eventually stopped updating him about the status of Godus. Two years after he won the contest, the game has released in Early Access form but still doesn't have a multiplayer mode. Several sources in the EuroGamer piece implied that a large portion of the original Godus team has moved on to another project, and that the developer might be having trouble with funding, despite the successful Kickstarter.
Molyneux admitted that he had messed up to EuroGamer and offered Henderson an apology, while claiming that Godus is still in active development. Regardless, that hasn't stopped just about every gaming site on the web from picking up the story and tearing Molyneux apart. His Kickstarter backers also took to taking their anger out on various forums related to the game. Today, The Guardian published an interview with Molyneux over the controversy where he again apologized, but stated that he is done talking to the press.
"The only answer is for me to retreat. I love my games and I love sharing them with people. The problem is, it just hasn't worked."
Molyneux did provide some detail on what has gone wrong with his latest title.
"I suppose the big mistake was estimating how long the game would take to make. I very stupidly and naively didn't build in enough contingency time into my predictions and I was 100% wrong. My hope is that in six to nine months time, people start to see the game they really did pledge for."
If there's any silver lining in all of this, it would appear that Peter Molyneux has finally learned his lesson about what can happen when you over promise and under deliver.
"I love working on games, it is my life. But I understand that people are sick of hearing my voice and hearing my promises. So I'm going to stop doing press and I'm going to stop talking about games completely. I think honestly the only answer to this is for me to completely stop talking to the press."
It's clear that Molyneux really does love his games and loves talking about them with people. In an industry where most members of upper management hide behind PR reps and carefully worded press releases, Molyneux has at times been a breath of fresh air. But in the age of social media trolls, all of that exposure has wrought some awful consequences. Molyneux told The Guardian that his family has even received death threats over this latest controversy.
The Guardian noted at the end of its article that after saying he was done talking to the press, he turned around and gave at least two more interviews to other publications, including Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Make of that what you will.
An early access version of Godus is available now on PC, iOS and Android. Multiplayer and other features are said to still be in development.
Source: The Guardian