By John Walker on May 21st, 2013 at 12:00 pm.
UPDATE: We’ve spoken to 22Cans, and have some answers to the questions people are asking about the confusing new news.
Eyebrows to the top half of your forehead – it’s concerned speculation time. There’s been an odd announcement from Peter Molyneux and 22Cans, about their Kickstartered GODUS. In a video oddly aimed at backers only, but available on Youtube (and below), Molyneux has announced a publishing partnership with mobile moneymakers DeNA, for the mobile version of the game. Not so odd? Well, there are two factors here. Firstly, there’s absolutely no mention of the PC version at all, and a related press release refers to GODUS as “a new type of game for mobile devices”. And secondly, DeNA specialises in F2P mobile games with micropayments.
We’ve spoken to Sam at 22Cans, and he emphasises that the PC version is not part of any publishing deal, going ahead as planned. The alpha version should be in backers’ hands by next week, in fact. Sam believes that when backers are playing it, they will have their many concerns put to rest. The poor man was up until 2am dealing with the blowback from the confusion. He stresses, “We take our community extremely seriously.”
The news about the mobile version doesn’t impact the PC version at all, and 22Cans express their regret that this wasn’t made clear in the new video, and say it should have been mentioned. However, there are still some issues regarding the mobile version, especially for those who paid the £20 in order to get one. So, it going to be free-to-play on mobile? We still don’t know. “That’s purely speculation,” said 22Cans, explaining they can’t answer that question at this point, and that they still haven’t made their minds up about final prices on any platform. So that certainly isn’t going to put any minds at rest at this point, especially since Mobage is currently exclusively used for F2P/microtransaction games.
Another question they don’t have the answer for yet (Peter being away in America at the moment isn’t helping, it seems!) is whether the mobile version will still be entirely playable offline. Sam believed it would be, but couldn’t confirm at this point. There are also questions that still need answering about whether you’ll be able to continue playing between the two devices. That’s obviously of primary concern to those who paid for the £30 tier to get two copies, one for each. 22Cans will hopefully have some more answers soon.
GODUS, and its slow-to-get-there Kickstarter, promised a return to a Populous-style god game, from the inventor of the genre. While Molyneux has certainly been a… controversial figure when it comes to delivering on his claims over the years, this definitely sounded like the sort of thing we’d like to see. The project was described as something that, “will be developed for the Mac, PC and Mobile devices, we hope to be able to add more platforms as our Kickstarter campaign progresses.”
The first tier price that secured a copy of the game was £15, which sold out. It was £20 for the one that was still available at the end of the run, and that rather implied a full-price PC game, and not a typically priced mobile release. Let alone a game that would be released by the typical model of publishers DeNA. They are behind the Mobage platform, which offers “free” games that are funded through microtransactions within. We don’t know that this means GODUS will be funded in similar ways, but their release does state:
“The game will also utilize DeNA’s Mobage mobile social games platform in Western territories, Japan and Korea.”
So, this appears a very peculiar situation for a game that had sold a “digital downloadable copy” as equivalent for PC, Mac or mobile. Obviously mobile games are almost never priced at the levels of a PC release, so this was already an odd way of things. But with this ecumenical approach, it was specifically expressed to backers that they were equivalent.
It’s also concerning to see the PC/Mac/Linux entirely unmentioned in the press release, which in doing so strongly implies to readers that the game is mobile only. It’s hard to work out who should be more concerned at this point: mobile gamers who thought they’d paid for what now looks like might be a “free” game, or PC backers who seem to be forgotten or sidelined.
Then there are the issues of there being a publisher at all. Kickstarter usually implies, but by no means states, that a publisher is being avoided. The new video explains that using a publisher means they won’t be, “distracted by all the distribution and publishing and submitting and server stuff that we tended to get a bit distracted with – to be honest – with Curiosity.”
Again, no mention of the PC build, especially in the sense of their surely still needing to worry about PC/Mac distribution, publishing, submissions and servers? It also rather bucks the implications given by Molyneux when he spoke to Nathan about the project last year:
“We could have done a thing that I’ve done on every game I’ve ever made. We could have gone to a publisher, and maybe we should have gone to a publisher. Maybe that’s the sensible big-boy thing to do, signing up to a publisher. But I’ve always said, I’m exploring a way to make a really good, really well-balanced game. One of the great things about Kickstarter is you’ve got people that care enough to spend money. There’s a lot of talk about alpha and beta and people coming in and helping us with the design.”
More explicitly, their original Kickstarter pitch contained the lines,
“Funding it via Kickstarter allows us to stay a small independent team with unlimited freedom in our creativity. It’ll just be you, us and our unbridled dedication (no publishers).”
So, they went to a publisher? Odd. It also asks questions of their promise that the game would always be available to play offline.
Right now, this is confusion, not facts. It’s possible that 22Cans will say, “No no no, you completely misunderstand!” With Peter Molyneux likely adding, “And the game will include a mode where if you sneeze while playing, baby monkeys are born… in the real world.” We’ve tried to get hold of them, and are awaiting a call back, and will update to clarify. In the meantime, if anything, this is an example of how not to communicate with your backers.