Peter Molyneux Conundrums

Recently Peter Molyneux, a game developer with studio 22 Cans has come under intense fire due to his role in the yet to be released god game called “Godus”.  Without getting into the details of the game itself, Godus is a kickstarted game that achieved over half a million pounds in crowd funding, approximately one hundred thousand more than needed and attained over seventeen thousand backers.  The crowdfunding campaign also included rewards for backers and stated the game would be completed within a 7-9 month window.

Fast forward to today, just over two years since the kickstarter campaign was successful, development on Godus is still ongoing.  Molyneux has also announced that the development team on Godus is shrinking as they’re moved onto a different project called ‘The Trail’, that backers would not be receiving some of the rewards they were promised and that some of the kickstarter pledges would not be achieved.

Thus the reason for all the animosity currently aimed at Molyneux and his studio 22 cans.  Godus was funded initially from the pockets of gamer’s themselves, excited and passionate for the game Peter Molyneux sold them on.  Clearly the relationship between the developer and backer has failed but why did it fail so spectacularly?

It’s clear now in hindsight that Molyneux’s ambitions far exceeded what was possible within the timeframe and budget yet he still sold Godus to an unsuspecting public and continued to promise the world well into its development.  The question is did he commit this fraud deliberately or did he truely believe it was possible?  After all he is the father of the God game genre.  I personally have to give Molyneux credit, he’s a dreamer and dreams push whats possible further.

The problem therein lies with how these dreams materialized and the degree of transparency between the developer and investor.  All games run into issues during the development process that causes unintended consequences, in Godus’s case it seems that 22 Cans failed at appropriately informing their backers and general community in regards to the development process as well as failing to address concerns that arose as time dragged on.  This was then further compounded by a general lack of trust as more and more promises were broken and a pattern began to emerge.  We humans always like our patterns.

The final nail in the coffin I believe was when the press got a hold of it.  The voracity of numerous interviews with Molyneux including one written by John Walker that borders on character assassination (see the link below) attained so much turbulent traction in the media that Molyneux himself has admitted to exiling himself from the press entirely.

For me the biggest issue here is recognizing and understanding who’s investing in your idea.  A publisher generally only cares about the bottom line which is making money, investors gained through crowdfunding however are a completely different kettle of fish.  These investors are the gamer’s themselves, they’re the consumers and they can be just as passionate and excited about the game as the developer is.  After all they are investing in a game essentially tailored for them.  As a result the relationship needs to be a lot more intimate between the developer and investor.

John Walker interview with Peter Molyneux:


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