On Peter Molyneux, 22cans, and Bryan Henderson

by Alex on  February 20, 2015 |
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If you pay any attention to news in the gaming press, you will have seen a lot of coverage on Peter Molyneux, 22cans, Godus/Curiosity and Bryan Henderson these past couple of weeks. I thought I’d add my two cents, as it’s an issue I feel fairly strongly about.

Peter Molyneux is, in some ways, a bit of a personal role model for me. I grew up playing Populous, Theme Hospital and Black and White, so these games hold a special place in my heart, as does their driving creative force, Mr Molyneux. As an aspiring game developer, I feel that his games helped inspire me in working towards becoming a part of this industry.
Peter is widely known as a very passionate, excitable person. When talking about his own games especially, he can be extravagant and exaggerative to the extreme in his language – something which now seems to have finally come back to bite him.

As I adored Populous, and Black and White especially, I was an early backer of the Godus Kickstarter. Filled with now-typical Molyneux hyperbole, the pitch seemed like a clarion call back to the golden days of god games, headed by the god of god games himself, finally coming back to the industry.
However, over two years and £526,563 after the successful Kickstarter, we have very little to show of it. Godus is in Early Access on Steam, and hasn’t been updated significantly in a good while. Focus has apparently been on the mobile version, a free-to-play Godus with microtransactions that has, according to Molyneux, made ‘millions and millions’. I did play the mobile version of the game for a few days, but found it fairly unintuitive, slightly boring, and, as usual for a free-to-play game, always steering you towards purchasing microtransactions.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s very intense interview with Peter sums up the state of Godus well, so if you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it. Molyneux claims that work on Godus is still going full-steam-ahead, and all the features will be completed, but it’s honestly hard to believe when the new lead designer on the project (a former fan, turned intern, turned paid employee) has himself said the chances of multiplayer and the ‘God of Gods’ system being finished are slim.

This brings me onto the next issue in this saga – Bryan Henderson, the supposed ‘God of Gods’. Bryan was the winner of the (“life changing” according to Molyneux) prize at the centre of the Curiosity cube. That prize was the opportunity to become the ‘God of Gods’ and all that position entailed (including a share of revenue) of 22cans’ next game – Godus. According to the report and interview conducted by Eurogamer with Henderson, that sparked this whole week of reporting, contact between the winner and 22cans steadily dropped off to become non existent, and the prize has been anything but life-changing for Bryan.
Henderson himself doesn’t seem too bothered by this, seeing the whole affair as a bit of an interesting story to tell and not much more, but it’s another example of Molyneux’s hyperbole and a very poor effort on his behalf to ensure that the winner of a prize from his previous game (on which many people spent a lot of money) was well looked after.
We don’t know yet whether Henderson will receive his prize – as described before, the ‘God of Gods’ feature and multiplayer itself is still to be created. Many say however that the least the God of God Games could do is give the poor guy some of the revenue share he’s earned, from the ‘millions and millions’ the game has apparently made.

Overall, I believe it is important that Molyneux heeds his own advice and disengages from the public/press sphere for a good while, and focuses on fulfilling the promises he made during the Godus kickstarter, and subsequently. I, however, will continue taking everything he says with a pinch of salt for the foreseeable future.

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