Failure to Launch: Peter Molyneux, 22Cans, and Godus
In 2012, video game company 22cans and developer Peter Molyneux started a Kickstarter campaign for a "delightful reinvention" of the well-worn "god"-game, made popular with the Black & White series. The set goal was 460,000GBP, and by the end of it's funding on Dec. 31, 2012, they had surpassed that goal by almost 100,000, finishing at 526,563GBP from 17,184 backers.
22cans is an independant development company founded the same year as the campaign, March 2012. Prior to the campaign, they were already known for their game Curiosity - what's inside the cube? which was a community-game in which one winner, the person who removed the last layer of the cube, received a prize. Part of the prize was to appear as a god in this new Godus game, which is only one promise of which Molyneux and 22cans did not deliver on following the Kickstarter.
The controversy mounted as backers were continually let down by the progress made on the game. Sherif Saed reports on VG24/7 that Molyneux admitted Godus was not going as planned and rewards promised on Kickstarter may never come to fruition. Part of this problem lies in the fact that as of yet, 22cans has only been able to release a mobile version of the game with significantly less features than promised in its intended desktop version.
However, despite a large number of backers voicing negative comments on both the Godus Kickstarter comments section and Steam, gamers on Reddit are playing the mobile version and doing so in a more positive light, enjoying the game as the beta version currently available.
These disappointed backers not only raised concerns for 22cans and Peter Molyneux, who received threats both personally and to his family, but the media coverage brought to attention the potential problems of Kickstarter campaigns that get funded with unexpected or disappointing results for the backers who provided their money. In this case, many backers are requesting refunds in the comments, but there is currently no related news on whether they will follow up with these requests.
Aside from the users on Reddit getting behind the Godus game, fellow developer Tim Schafer of Double Fine (another company that used Kickstarter to raise a significant amount of money) spoke up in defense of Molyneux.
in May 2015, 22Cans went through a change in management as Simon Phillips was named CEO over Molyneux. Molyneux will remain with the studio; however, he will now focus on the role of creative director.
Overall, reviews of the beta are a mix of mostly negative with some positive, but despite the controversy and disappointed backers, Godus is attempting to move forward. The following are articles that cover this project extensively from general news to interviews and reviews. As this project moves forward, this page will be updated.
- Phil Savage on PCGamer: Dec. 2, 2012: Molyneux talks Kickstarter backlash, Marmite comparisons
- Megan Farokhmanesh on Polygon: Aug. 31, 2013: Populous to Godus: The rubbish-filled road of Peter Molyneux
- Martin Robinson on EuroGamer: Jan. 4, 2014: Peter Molyneux's Godus problem
- Jason Schreier on Kotaku: Mar. 11, 2014: The man who promised too much
- Alec Meer on Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Mar. 12, 2014: The abysmal Godus is no longer abysmal, APPARENTLY
- John Walker on Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Feb. 9, 2015: Oh Godus, what the hell's going on?
- John Walker on Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Feb. 10, 2015: 22cans confirms Godus team shrinkage, admit mistakes
- Nathan Grayson on Kotaku: Feb. 10, 2015: Peter Molyneux's Godus is having serious problems
- Hugh Langley on techradar: Feb. 11, 2015: Peter Molyneux on what went wrong with Godus - and how to save free play
- Wesley Yin-Poole on EuroGamer: Feb. 11, 2015: The God who Peter Molyneux forgot
- Colin Campbell on Polygon: Feb. 11, 2015: Peter Molyneux's Godus is a failure of trust, and a warning for others
- Ben Kuchera on Polygon: Feb. 12, 2015: Molyneux's broken promise to his 'god' fulfilled by another developer
- Matthew Handrahan on GamesIndustry.biz: Feb. 13, 2015: "They've threatened me, they've threatened by family and it just cannot go on"
- Rob Fahey on GamesIndustry.biz: Feb. 13, 2015: Could Godus' failure fuel a crowdfunding backlash?
- Nathan Grayson on Kotaku: Feb. 13, 2015: Why Peter Molyneux's Godus is such a disaster
- Tyler Glaiel on Gamasutra: Feb. 13, 2015: Game development is f***ing difficult, my thoughts on that Peter Molyneux interview
- Will Fulton on Digital Trends: Feb. 15, 2015: Godus team shrinks, along with chances that backers will get their promised rewards
- Colin Campbell on Polygon: Feb. 18, 2015: Tim Schafer says negative reaction to Molyneux was 'way out of proportion'
- Ian Miles Cheong on Gameranx: Feb. 20, 2015: DayZ Creator says Crowdfunded Devs Need to be Held Accountable
- Emily Gera on Polygon: Feb. 24, 2015: Eulogy for the last honest man in games
- Brendan Sinclair on GamesIndustry.biz: Dec. 3, 2012: Molyneux: Retirement is "abhorrent"
- PC Gamer: Dec. 6, 2012: GODUS interview: 22cans' Dictator of Art on designing worlds and working with
- Nathan Grayson on Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Sept. 6, 2013: Molyneux promises ludicrously big for Godus
- GDC 2014: Video: Molyneux reflects on indie dev and the rebirth of design
- John Walker on Rock, Paper, Shotgun: Feb. 13, 2015: Peter Molyneux interview: "I haven't got a reputation in this industry any more"
- Laura Kate Dale on The Guardian: Feb. 13, 2015: Peter Molyneux interview: "It's over, I will not speak to the press again"
- James Cunningham on HardcoreGamer: Sept. 16, 2013: In which Godus utterly fails at almost everything
- Scott Craft on iDigitalTimes: Mar. 22, 2014: Godus Beta 2.0 Review: a new coat of paint can't hide same boring clickfest
- Stuart Dredge on The Guardian: Aug., 18, 2014: Godus review - not godlike yet, but a creative cut above the freemium herd
- Brandon Sheffield on Gamasutra: Apr. 24, 2015: Peter Molyneux: Talking to the press too early can be your undoing
- Dan Pearson on GamesIndustry.biz: Apr. 24, 2015: "At that time I started making this terrible mistake"
- Katherine Cross on Gamasutra: May 7, 2015: Opinion: The meaning of Molyneux
- Nathan Grayson on Steamed: June 3, 2015: Four months later, Peter Molyneux's Godus is still a mess