Molyneux: Retirement is "abhorrent"
22 Cans founder responds to Project Godus Kickstarter backlash, refutes retirement speculation
Earlier this month, 22 Cans founder Peter Molyneux said in an interview his next major game will be his last, which prompted some speculation that the veteran designer was planning to call it quits. Speaking with GamesIndustry International last week, Molyneux dismissed the idea entirely, saying he was talking instead about how the launch of a game can be just the beginning of development, as with MMOs or frequently updated mobile titles.
"I wasn't in any way announcing my retirement or saying I'm going to throw myself off the nearest bridge after my next game," Molyneux said, adding, "I'm either going to stop making games when everyone in the world just hates the games I make or the day when I die. I feel more passionate, more engaged, more energetic about making games now than I ever have. The thought of retirement is abhorrent to me. I would have to be in some vegetative state to consider retirement."
"I would have to be in some vegetative state to consider retirement."
Molyneux also addressed reaction to 22 Cans' Kickstarter campaign for Project Godus, which has been mixed, to put it charitably. A little more than one-third of the way through the campaign, fans have pledged nearly £200,000 of the studio's £450,000 funding goal. At the same time, the campaign has drawn the ire of a number of gamers and industry watchers, as well as accusations of cynicism, exploitation, and greed.
The amount of negativity directed Molyneux's way "somewhat surprised" him, but he believes it's an extension of the reactions he draws with most of his work.
"I know I'm a controversial figure," Molyneux said. "We have this food over in England called Marmite. Some people hate Marmite, and some people like Marmite. And I'm definitely one of those people."
One particular point that the designer believes gets people's hackles up is the notion that he should be able to get Project Godus funded without passing the hat among his fans.
"Everyone kind of thinks I'm loaded with money and live in Versailles or something, and drive around in a gold Rolls Royce," Molyneux said. "None of that is true. I'm not starving by any means, but I haven't got unlimited wealth. I used a lot of money to found 22 Cans, to release Curiosity, and to build a team of 20 people."
"There's a lot of reasons for people to hit us with negativity. I've got to accept that."
Beyond perceptions of his wealth, Molyneux said the backlash has been amplified by players upset with the technically troubled launch of Curiosity, and grudges held over broken promises. (The never-realized Fable feature that had players planting an acorn and returning later on to find it had grown into a tree was one example given.)
"There's a lot of reasons for people to hit us with negativity," Molyneux said. "I've got to accept that."
As for why he took the Kickstarter route in the first place despite the reaction it might receive, Molyneux said that going to publishers and investors for the funding could be problematic at the moment as both groups have their hands full coping with the ongoing turmoil in the industry. Despite that, Molyneux may wind up having to seek their assistance anyway, should the Project Godus Kickstarter fall short of its goal (in which case none of the pledged money would be collected for 22 Cans).
In that event, Molyneux explained, "We'd have to look at some of the more traditional routes. I think it would be a tough world to be in if we weren't funded, that's for sure."
The team at 22 Cans is hoping to release an alpha version of Project Godus to backers around Christmas, at which point they will use analytics to track player behavior and change the experience accordingly. Molyneux was particularly eager to begin testing and tweaking cycles early, as he has found traditional focus group testing comes too near the end of a project, too late to incorporate significant player feedback.