Back in December 2012, Peter Molyneux officially announced a new game, Godus. It was on Kickstarter, and had a mobile tie-in game called Curiosity, where the winner of the global game was selected to be a “God of Gods” in Godus, and even share in the profits of the game.
Flash forward to last month: The “God of Gods” hadn’t heard from the studio in months, and none of his emails were being returned. He hadn’t seen a penny in profits. That prompted RPS to interview Molyneux. Fair warning: It’s a pretty brutal interview, starting with the question “Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?”, and getting worse from there.
The interview sent Molyneux into a Twitter rant, where he basically announced that he would step away from the public eye. In the thirst for knowledge (or, more likely, for clicks), the world has scared away Molyneux.
While it’s pretty crummy to see how the “God of Gods” and Kickstarter/Early Access buyers have been treated, it’s also pretty crummy to see a man, once considered a video game industry luminary and creative genius, reduced to crawling into the proverbial corner and curling up into the fetal position.
I’m going to paraphrase Chuck Lorre on this last thought: Pre-Internet, gamers simply responded to developers by playing or not playing their game. Now, gamer opinions are loud, immediate and fully articulated. And honestly, it’s great! And it’s also scary. But it’s a real conversation between real people with real feelings. So we all have to choose our words carefully
Wednesday, 4:21 pm –
talk about the theme of the week hitting home, Sony studios announced that the “going to come out we promise” free version of DriveClub was unofficially cancelled today, prompting even more backlash against a studio that claims the industry is to blame – not them… I’m sorry what?
For those who don’t know the backstory, DriveClub was a HIGHLY touted launch title for the PlayStation 4 (yes, LAUNCH) that eventually was delayed past launch and replaced with Contrast (Thank god). The game was going to be available in two models, a retail purchase copy that included everything for the standard MSRP, and a “free” version containing roughly 3/5 of the game for PlayStation Plus members. However as the studio launch the title in 2014, it was apparent the all the glitc hed and bugs were worked out (i.e NONE) and the team decided to focus on creating the best experience for those that boughtthe retail version while continugn to assure the playstation community they were still focused on releasing it later in the year. “People were working 24/7, and that’s an expression that’s lightly used but people were working 24/7 trying to fix this. Now, should the game have worked at launch? Of course. Should people pay £50 for something and expect it to work? Of course.” (Sony Computer Entertainment Europe president and CEO Jim Ryan)
It’s March 2015 and it apparently never will be released, as per Jim Ryan “I think one thing that the industry appears to have misjudged in the generational transition – where there’s a lot spoken about moving to a more straightforward PC architecture that should make it easy for developers to come to terms with next gen and all of that – is I think the massively enhanced online ambitions a lot of developers and publishers have identified as one of the opportunists of next gen, appear to have been way more technically challenging than anyone realised.”
Ok, so you wanted to develop a game that technically wasn’t possible, and before trying to see IF IT WAS, you started marketing and building up hype for a game that wasn’t possible? You didn’t think that would cause some “bugs” or “glitches” or “not the fucking game you said you were developing?” And then when shit hits the fan just blame the “industry” for expecting too much? HOW ABOUT DOING WHAT YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO DO?!?!?!
I understand the importance for them a s a company to make sure the retail version worked, but as this (as far as im concerned) is the WORST generation of videogames MAKING I can remember, there is a serious disconnect from gamers and publishers. despite how easy Twitter makes it to reach them, getting them to actually do anything is another story. As Peter pointed out – he can just turn off the twitter and ignore us if he wants. There is a perceived (to me) notion hat developers will just release trash for the sake of releasing trash as long as someone will buy it, wait around for their big franchise to make the next sequel and hope some new title becomes the next big thing to suck dry for ten years (and don’t forget the DLC)
Tuesday, 8:27 pm – Albert
Wow that was a brutal interview. This is all I could think about reading it
Monday, 3:44 pm – Gavin
I don’t know how I feel about Peter Molyneux. On one hand, he spent the better part of the last decade consistently promising the moon and then breaking those promises. I’m fortunate that I never got caught up into anything of his pre-development, so by the time I got to Fable and Fable 2, people had already lost their minds and moved onto the next thing. Yeah yeah, the finished product wasn’t what he promised, but I didn’t care, because I didn’t know what that promise was.
However, I do recognize that if you’re going to engage with your market base by way of saying anything about your game, then you’d better be prepared for people to react based on what you’ve said. If you choose to say “this game will have trees in it that will grow as you grow”, then you need to prepare to respond if your finished product doesn’t include that.
I absolutely feel for the Kickstarter backers of Godus and I feel for the guy who won Curiosity. Simply put, they invested in a company and that company didn’t deliver. I completely get why they’d be angry, and why that is a source of frustration and grief.
However, as much as Molyneux is prone to hyperbole or making false promises or generally being deceptive about what a game is, that RPS interview was a freaking hit piece. That wasn’t journalism – that was vengeance. It was bad-faith reporting and I’m not impressed in the slightest. RPS is usually a good outlet, but nothing good comes from that type of interview. It was an interviewer maliciously venting the frustrations of everyone who felt deceived by Molyneux all at once, which isn’t at all appropriate.
I admire and respect Molyneux’s creative visions. Above all, however, he’s a man who needs a spokesperson. Fable and Fable 2 were two of my most beloved games of the 2000s. He needs to be aware that people listen to him and take what he says to heart.
Being able to interact with developers is a unique privilege afforded to gamers. By and large, we don’t get to interact with actors or directors, with musicians, with car designers, fashion designers, etc. Gamers as an audience are a volatile, fickle group. A vocal minority of that group have shown themselves to be outright jerks, especially over the past six months, and longer if you go back to Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter. I don’t want the only metric for developers and publishers to be financial, because then we may get deprived of some beautiful titles or of a developer’s pet project that someone people find to be wonderful, but if a developer decides to withdraw from Twitter or the public eye to make their next game, I wouldn’t blame them at all. Gamers are a difficult audience to please.
Anyway, I started Stick of Truth on the weekend! So far, so good – about four hours in, just running around doing pointless side quests because the world is so fun to explore. It feels like a love letter to South Park fans, and even if there are characters I don’t know or references I don’t get because I stopped watching relatively early on, I can still appreciate the humour. It’s easily one of the best games that translates existing material. The writing is sharp and on-point, the fourth wall is broken at the appropriate times, and exploration is just so much fun.
Monday, 8:42 am – Ricky
Wow, that’s a long opening. And not even really a topic. Let’s see where things go from here…