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."