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"They've threatened me, they've threatened my family and it just cannot go on"

Peter Molyneux has pledged to stop talking to the press following Godus fallout

Peter Molyneux's time as an approachable figure for the games press may be over, with the veteran game designer proclaiming a recent run of interviews as the last he will ever give.

The last few days have been a difficult time for Molyneux, whose current studio, 22Cans, has been accused of failing to deliver on some very public promises, related to some $526,000 in crowdfunded money.

That money was for Godus, a project of the sort of vaulting ambition for which Molyneux is known. But, more than two years on, Godus remains a shadow of what was initially promised to its backers, with no combat, no story and no PC version to accompany its existing mobile release. The initial timeframe for all of that was, at most, one year.

"I'm honoured to be part of the games industry, but I understand that people are sick of hearing my voice and hearing my promises"

The problem has been compounded by the fact that the Godus team has been scaled down while the rest of 22Cans moves on to a new project, The Trail. In addition, the "winner" of the studio's prior release, Curiosity: What's Inside the Cube? - who was supposed to be the 'God' within Godus, taking a small slice of the game's revenue in the process - was ultimately neglected as the team struggled to get the game working. Check out Eurogamer's excellent interview with Bryan Henderson here, if you haven't already.

Now, Molyneux would be the first to admit his tendency to over-promise, but the response to this situation has been angrier and more vitriolic than ever before. Perhaps because of the public money that made Godus a possibility, perhaps because of the treatment of Bryan Henderson - whatever the case, Molyneux has decided to take a stand.

"My answer to this is this simple," he told The Guardian in one of a handful of apparently final interviews. "I love working on games, it is my life. I am so honoured 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. And actually I'm only giving you this interview now in answer to this terrible and awful, emotional time over the last three days. I think honestly the only answer to this is for me to completely stop talking to the press."

It's important to note that Molyneux is not fingering the press as the reason for his current predicament. Rather, his "retreat" from the public eye seems to be an attempt to safeguard against his tendency to speak too early, too often, and with the sort of passion and belief that make his words seem like firm promises - even guarantees. It is also a response to the tone and the pitch of the backlash, which has clearly been of a very different nature to anything Molyneux has experienced in the past.

"If I was pledging on this campaign I'd probably be saying the same thing as our backers"

"People get so frustrated with me, so much so that they've threatened me, they've threatened my family and it just cannot go on, it really can't," he said. "I think I'll get this over and done with. I'll answer some of the things backers are saying, but after that I feel the best thing I can do is just ...."

Molyneux also said that the vision of Godus promised to its backers will be up-and-running within nine months. And whatever else one might think, it would take a truly cynical nature to doubt the sincerity behind Molyneux's stated sense of regret.

"If I was pledging on this campaign I'd probably be saying the same thing as our backers. I'd be saying 'I wanted a PC game, I wanted combat, I wanted a story. Why haven't I got it? Why did you do the mobile version first?'

"I wish I was more effective and efficient, and the next game we work on we're going to make sure we keep behind closed doors for much longer. We're going to make our mistakes and go down those blind alleys privately before presenting the game to the world."

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"At that time I started making this terrible mistake"

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By Dan Pearson

Latest comments (20)

Guillaume Provost Studio Head, Compulsion4 years ago
I've had a deluge of social media (from industry friends) post related stories about this in the last few days. I remember him rather fondly, walking down the street with him and discussing game development after one of his talks at GDC in my early development years.
For all of Molyneux's faults and a regrettable track record at delivering on his public statements; we don't have enough shakers and dreamers in our industry, and Peter really did shake things up - whether he succeeded or not in delivering on his promises.
Project Milo; for all it's failure to appear as a working title, was a concept ahead of its time, and - with the advances in Machine Learning and Speech Recognition of recent years - is the kind of experience teams will start genuinely looking forward to building in the next decade.
Curiosity; for all it's culmination (in the treatment of Bryan Henderson) - showed ingenuity and true insight in human psychology, and created a real excitement within the community in a way that no other mobile games has since captured.
Personally - I'm much more interested in those projects than I was in Fable - a great game franchise that stayed - in its execution - safe and predictable.
Being a trailblazer means taking very real risks of it blowing up in your face. After having lived through multiple such failures, you have to tip your hat to Peter for doggedly keeping at it.
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Chris Payne Managing Director & Founder, Quantum Soup Studios4 years ago
I admire his ambition, but I think this is the right course of action - develop stuff until it really works before telling everyone about it. In the old days it didn't matter so much because people could read reviews and avoid spending money, and he was somewhat insulated from audience disappointment. But now that he's directly engaging with the target audience via Kickstarter and social media, he's experiencing a much worse reaction - partly because these are people who have already paid for the product, and partly because of the growing trend of online harassment. Nobody deserves death threats.
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Nick McCrea Gentleman, Pocket Starship4 years ago
Sad to read this; I'm a huge fan of Peter Molyneux. Curiousity and Godus to me are his only real game-related missteps; everything else is either solid (Fable, The Movies), innovative albeit flawed (B&W) or classic (Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Magic Carpet, Syndicate, Theme Hospital), though there is a definite issue with expectations versus delivery. But I do think that, assessed on their own merits, most of the games he's associated with are genuinely good, and often exceptional.

I hope the backlash doesn't cause him to retreat from the industry. Hopefully 22cans make the best game they can and turn things right around.

Also, it can't feel very nice when you get such prominent negative coverage from all the Gamer Network sites in such a short space of time, which immediately gets picked up by all the other specialist media.
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Show all comments (20)
Fazi Zsolt Game & Level Designer @Atypical Games 4 years ago
It is sad when dismayed players start threatening developers, their families etc. This is really not the way to go, it is understandable that you as the player feel betrayed, but instead of threatening someones physical integrity, it would be better just to call them out on their lies.

And in this case, Peter Molyneux did this to himself. With his ego unchecked, as well as his mouth unchecked, went on to promise the moon and the stars to all the backers of his games. Ended up more than short of delivering on anything he said.

So maybe the article should be titled: What not do like Peter Molyneux.
And one can't live on forever on past successes, if one does not create anything meaningful in the present.
I urge Peter Molyneux to talk less, and do more. (that way he can avoid this type of angry, even career breaking backlash).
Remember: credibility is very hard to gain, hard to maintain and it can be lost in a blink of an eye.
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This is the latest video where I see PM looking very vulnerable, at least no tears this time.

I have seen over the years of knowing the man a swing from excitement and ambition in the 90's to a arrogance in the Naughties to a superiority complex - and now to a wounded persona!

I hope that he is being helped by those that respect him - as he has been allowed to perceive that having money from past 'team' releases meant that he was special, and now the reality of how much vitriol is being directed at the latest in a numerous list of "miss calculations" and "overly inflated claims" - he may do something stupid.

GameIndustry.biz - this is now the second time I have voiced this - is it not time that we stop using PM for soundbites here and look towards new visionaries to comment on developments - ones that do not have the same legacy of shame?
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Petter Solberg Freelance Writer & Artist, 4 years ago
I feel sorry for Bryan Henderson. This is not OK.

So Molyneux is going to completely stop talking to the press? Is this another promise that can't be kept? I suspect that it's just a break, and we'll hear from him again at some point down the road. Also, a minor detail: The Godus was originally pitched to the fans, not the press.

I still have hopes for 22 Cans and Molyneux, even if it doesn't look too good at this point. But the way they treated Henderson, that's just inexcusable.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Petter Solberg on 13th February 2015 4:56pm

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John Cook Senior Partner, Bad Management4 years ago
"Nobody deserves death threats."

Simply; this.
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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada4 years ago
Disappointed to hear he's getting threats, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for PM, but did anyone else laugh out loud at the idea that he's going to stop talking to the press? "I promise to stop overpromising. No, really, I mean it this time!"

I really hope PM can go back to the wondrous drawing board that exists in his head, and we get some amazing new games from him.
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Ron Dippold Software/Firmware Engineer 4 years ago
The Guardian article: 'he was clearly in distress throughout the interview an interview he told us would will be his last. An hour before publication, however, we discovered that he had spoken to the gaming news site Rock, Paper, Shotgun the day before, and had given their interviewer the same impression that he would no longer be speaking to the press (that interview is now online). He has also spoken to at least one other site, seemingly on the same afternoon as our discussion. Another trail of broken assurances.'
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 4 years ago
Perhaps he means the last time he'll speak to EACH outlet, Ron. That makes sense in an odd way, as if he's giving the media a chance to actually ask him some decently composed questions and not do any piling on. Just a guess ;D
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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 4 years ago
No one deserves death threats or to be treated badly, as much as I detest PM's methods, I am absolutely disappointed in gamers, especially in the last year regarding GamerGate and Swatting,

However, I do believe I have heard PM saying he would shy away from being vocal with the press back in the days of Fable, when Fable III was announced, the same day it was announced, he claimed a lot of things would be in the game and could be done (Sure with a little rewording and tact, this could have been seen as simply brainstorming and sharing ideas of what they would like to see but his words made it sound like that nothing would stop them adding the features and ideas in)

Safe to say, he got flack because of the features and ideas he promised for Fable II never surfaced and later on after Fable III's release, he explained and admitted how he lied about features and ideas because he had no faith within the Fable games to sell themselves, so he gave them a boost.

That is when I turned my back upon PM. As he mentions, he gets excited, we all do and the first thing you want to do with such awesome news, is to share it with the world plus it's understandable and should be expected that sometimes, ideas that people would love to see, just can't be executed or someone believes it can but later find out it can't.

But this is why you should always have a competent Community Team (or manager), they speak to communities for a living, write down what you want to communicate, let them reword it and post it to the community. Sit back and enjoy a less hostile atmosphere.

My point...it's time for PM to be the guy behind the scenes, not on the front line. He needs to trust and let someone else handle the PR/Marketing/Community and focus more on pushing his team to deliver the ideas and/or promises they make.

In fact if there's anything I have learnt in customer service and community management, it's to never promise anything unless you are 100% certain that you can gain a positive result from it for yourself and the party involved. If you aren't 100%, even if you are 99% sure...don't promise a damn thing.
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Kenny Lynch Community Rep/Moderator 4 years ago
John that is a terrible thing to say. Chris was clearly explaining why the reaction was worse than at other instances of player displeasure at Mr Molyneux. In no way did he focus on his reaction to the threats as the most interesting point for discussion, imply that it was normal behaviour, say that he should toughen up as this is the internet, claim he should change his behaviour if he wanted to stop the threats, criticise him for speaking out about the threats, call him a professional victim, or any other of the multitude of claims made against and about women who have faced harassment recently.

Your off-topic comment is absurdly pathetic, insulting and inflammatory.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kenny Lynch on 14th February 2015 2:07pm

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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios4 years ago
GameIndustry.biz - this is now the second time I have voiced this - is it not time that we stop using PM for soundbites here and look towards new visionaries to comment on developments - ones that do not have the same legacy of shame?

I agree. I want articles from Developers who know what they're doing. Stories about success, not failure. Positive, uplifting and inspiring articles. I'm sick of reading about failed projects.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
I want articles from Developers who know what they're doing. Stories about success, not failure. Positive, uplifting and inspiring articles. I'm sick of reading about failed projects.
...

I'm... not sure if my sarcasm detector is broken? :)
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Marty Howe Director, Figurehead Studios4 years ago
I'm... not sure if my sarcasm detector is broken? :)

What do you mean.

If you want to say something, say it. Don't play around with cryptic clues.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Marty Howe on 15th February 2015 6:16am

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
Well, it was less cryptic clue, more genuine confusion, phrased politely/amusingly (I thought). I didn't want to put my foot in it assuming something was literal, when it was in fact sarcasm... But since you seem very blunt:
I want articles from Developers who know what they're doing. Stories about success, not failure. Positive, uplifting and inspiring articles. I'm sick of reading about failed projects.
We learn through failed projects. We learn from other people's failures generally, in life and work. To only focus on the positive ignores a whole swathe of the industry, and dooms us not just to repeat mistakes, but to repeat criticisms, to lose money, to lose consumers, to lose respect. That there are so many negative stories on this site (from developers who don't know what they're doing, for example), speaks volumes about how many issues this industry has still to overcome.

And if you were being sarcastic... Sorry for taking you literally. :p
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Matthew Handrahan European Deputy Editor, GamesIndustry.biz4 years ago
Marty, I take your point, though I'm not sure this article fits into that context. A figure like Peter Molyneux deciding to end his time as a public face for the industry is significant, and worthy of reporting. Describing what Peter had to say here as "a soundbite" seems very dismissive to me, given the circumstances. Success and failure don't have much to do with it in this case. If he goes back in his stance in the future that's another matter, but it's not our place to judge in advance of events that haven't yet occurred.

As a side note, I was just at Casual Connect, where the one piece of advice I was given over and over was, "More stories about failure." The reasoning, every time, was that in an industry with so much product and so much competition, there's as much or more to learn from plans going awry as plans that make billions. I haven't done a count or anything, but my feeling when I heard that was that the majority of the content we produce stems from some sort of success story, whether explicitly or indirectly. Almost everyone we interview is a success of some kind, with wisdom to impart as a direct result.

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Matthew Handrahan on 15th February 2015 6:08pm

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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 4 years ago
I don't get why you two are bickering. Both success and failure stories are needed.

I think I have made my stance clear about PM but hearing about both sides from anyone in regards to their projects, allows me to find the direction I would like to go

In other words, without both good and bad articles, how can one improve or narrow in on a portion to improve? Case in point, PM could improve on community management and PR work.

For example: someone I follow on Twitter said we need more dreamers like PM. This person is only seeing the good side of PM and ignoring the flaws. Yes we need dreamers in the industry but we don't need lies and broken promises.
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Ralph Tricoche Studying MA, CUNY3 years ago
I lost respect for Peter long time ago. When I realized that the man doesn't know how to create video games. He is an architect and a dreamer. He needs to be building homes and towers and bridges. Not games. He cant complete project and when he does they are middling. He shoots for the stars and hits mud.

This is a character flaw of his. With the internet we get to see it and experience it as it happens, there is no delay.

I remember playing Black and White 1 and thought it was the most boring thing I had ever done. I thought doing math would have been better (and it was). The novelty of your create wore off in about 15 minutes.
There was no game.

He lives in the adage of "its better to ask for forgiveness than permission" This is old news. I gave money to Godus for two reasons. One, he no longer was under Microsoft and therefore I thought (wrongfully) that he understood how to manage money, resources and people BETTER and Two, he was returning to a genre that he helped create.

I got the "infinite clicking game" with absolutely no soul in it. Lifeless and dull. Dust is a better game. Peter should be embarrassed, ashamed and should retire. He never should speak to another media outlet and he should disband 22 Cans. Give the rest of the funds to the gentleman that was promised the greatest gift ever (I forget his name) and release Godus code as freeware.

If he wanted to come back into gaming after some yoga, soul searching and therapy and hardcore sabbatical, then I (if I was him) would get a computer, hot cup of tea, and start writing code on my porch ONCE I had a solid idea, a rock of Gibraltar foundation to build on.
Id be quieter than a mouse on my project and when I had a working prototype that was 80% playable then Id start recruiting and get others involved.

Until then, see ya later and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ralph Tricoche on 16th February 2015 4:30pm

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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 3 years ago
Here we go. Found a reliable source regarding the comment I made about PM admitting that he lied about things to stop journalists falling to sleep
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-03-16-molyneux-sorry-if-ive-over-promised
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