After a series of controversial events, Fable creator Peter Molyneux, known for his active engagement with the press to promote his upcoming releases, has decided to cut off all pre-release interviews.
One of the gaming industry’s most prominent figures, Molyneux is known for his appearances on TV and other media outlets. He was named one of the top ten game creators by GameTrailers and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the GDC Awards and an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2004.
He was also somewhat controversially known for making too-good-to-be-true promises for his upcoming games, such as the Fable series, that often turned out to simply be false.
Recently, Molyneux, who spoke to Gamespot, among many other media outlets, said:
I love working on games, it is my life. I am so honored to be a part of the games industry, 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.
What led to this event was not one particular event, but a series of them taking place across the last couple of years, so let’s start at the beginning.
Like many prominent developers from days of yore, Molyneux left his longtime home at Lionhead Studios in 2012 to form his own independent studio, 22Cans.
The studio’s first release, Curiosity-What’s Inside the Cube?, was an experimental multiplayer game for iOS and Android phones in which players would all contribute to chipping away layers of a massive cube. Molyneux had promised that the reward for getting to the center of the cube would be “life changingly amazing by any definition.”
That reward, as discovered by one Bryan Henderson from Scotland, turned out to be the status of a digital god in 22cans’ second game, Godus, with the power to significantly influence the multiplayer portion of the game. The second, more significant reward, entitled him to a cut of the game’s profits for six months.
As Henderson awaited his lucrative prize, 22cans were hard at work on Godus, a God game envisioned as a modern spiritual sequel to Molyneux’s 1989 classic Populous. Like many other studios of its nature, 22cans sought funding through Kickstarter, and fans responded in droves by funding it to the tune of £526,563 by December 2012.
Molyneux, in usual fashion, made some pretty impressive promises for Godus, such as a game world the size of the planet Jupiter and a multiplayer mode that could connect millions of players together.
As development wore on, however, it became increasingly clear that all was not well at 22cans. As explained in a lengthy article by Kotaku, the studio had grossly underestimated the time and amount of Kickstarter money they would need to work on Godus, and as a result were forced to sign a deal with publisher DeNA, who specializes in mobile games. Molyneux reassured fans that the mobile version of Godus would not take priority over the PC version, but as the article points out, that turned out to be untrue.
Efforts to get the mobile version of Godus done proved to take much longer than expected, and as a result several key team members resigned in frustration. One team member, speaking anonymously to Gamespot described the development of Godus as a “failure.” The mobile Godus has been criticized for featuring microtransactions and other symptoms of a free-to-play model.
With a shrinking development team and a completely incensed horde of crowdfunders clamoring for Molyneux’s head, it became apparent that many of the goals and backer rewards promised on the game’s Kickstarter page would never be fulfilled, such as the Linux version, art book, and most prominently, the multiplayer mode.
This brings us back to Bryan Henderson, who, to this day, hasn’t gotten anything from 22cans. Many of his requests for an update from the studio were met with silence. In an interview with Eurogamer, he concluded the matter by saying “I don’t care. Really. Like, whatever.” Molyneux has publicly apologized.
Molyneux has handed control of the Godus development to one Konrad Naszynski, a fan who initially helped work on the game for free. Naszynski has spoken extensively on the game’s troubled development, calling it “confused” and admitting outright that “I simply can’t see us delivering all the features promised on the Kickstarter page.”
Meanwhile, it appears that Molyneux and several team members at 22cans have abandoned Godus in favor of a new project, a social media mobile game called The Trial. Molyneux, speaking to The Guardian, said that he hopes that Godus will finally be completed “in six to nine months time.”
It’s probably going to take a much, much longer time to win back the trust of the fans, though, as over on Godus‘s Steam Early Access page, the game has achieved a “Mostly Negative” rating with 1662 positive reviews and 2650 negative reviews.
At any rate, Molyneux, as mentioned above, has promised that he will cease communicating with the press on pre-release news, and to that end has declared that The Trial will be worked on in secrecy for a much longer period of time than Godus before revealing it to the media.