GODUS Publishing Via F2P Mobile Distro, PC Unmentioned

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.

New Information:

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.

Original Article:

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.

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73 Comments »

  1. ZHsquad says:

    Uh-oh. Hope this is just a misunderstanding due to lack of information.

  2. RedViv says:

    Peter Molyneux in not quite being clear or down to earth with what might happen shocker

    €: And that’s all it was. Hooray!

  3. Spad says:

    I read “a new type of game for mobile devices” as “a type of game we haven’t seen on mobile devices before” rather than “a new type of game that will only be on mobile devices”

  4. somnolentsurfer says:

    They’ve made, like, 50 videos in the last six months, up to a few days ago. Through all of which they have constantly talked about the PC and Mac version. And they’ve promised the alpha to backers within the next couple of weeks.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

    EDIT: And I don’t have time to go digging though all those videos to locate the one where they said it publicly, but here’s a link to the backer forums where they confirmed months ago that, while the mobile version would be F2P, Windows and Mac are pay-once.

    • kibble says:

      Trying to decide if this is someone needlessly freaking out because they made a faulty assumption or a desperate attempt to create controversy for the sake of page views.

      • John Walker says:

        It’s a report of some events that have taken place, that have a lot of backers very worried.

        Also, how many pageviews do you think this article will get? I’m going to guess it’s going to be pretty low.

      • somnolentsurfer says:

        Pretty certain it’s the former. 22 Cans have released way too much material for someone who’s not invested in it to follow it all, so you can’t really blame anyone for missing something when stuff like this appears.

        I am surprised it’s not been corrected yet though.

        • John Walker says:

          Correct what? You say that a forum people can’t read without having backed might have said something once in the past. If so, then we’re simply late with this story, rather than inaccurate. The KS page said “no publishers”, and they were selling the digital downloads as equivalent across PC and mobile. So what, exactly, is it you believe we’re getting wrong?

          • somnolentsurfer says:

            You’re reporting a controversy where there is none. And I didn’t say they “might have said something once in the past”, I gave a direct link. But as you’ve now compelled me to spend my lunchtime looking for a public statement on the issue: here (2:15).

          • Pamplemousse says:

            “PC unmentioned” is somewhat misleading no?

            It IS accurate but very much misleading as it suggests the PC version is cancelled and setting it next to the story about mobile published suggests it is being re-purposed for a mobile game.

            Well you got my page view, but this is pretty shoddy stuff.

    • MunkeyBalls says:

      Yet none of this was told to backers when they pitched the game. They even said you could leave your game on PC and continue playing on your mobile. Now how would this work out when these are 2 separate games?

      There are people who pledged money JUST for the mobile version of the game, you think they don’t have a right to be upset about this?

      So far all my interest is gone in this game. I am a backer and have followed all the videos they uploaded of the progress. Did you see the belief bubbles they have shown the other day? Almost seems like some of the F2P gameplay mechanics blew over to the PC version.

      • somnolentsurfer says:

        Yeah, the balls looked dubious, but they gave an explanation, so I’ll wait and see how it plays.

      • Hahaha says:

        And? I thought kickstarter wasn’t a preorder system :p

        • Cuddlefish says:

          That is true – but it doesn’t mean that having the product description you decided to financially support being significantly altered after the money has long since changed hands is perfectly okay. I mean, projects change scope, that’s a thing that happens, but there should be some recourse provided for initial investors who would not have supported the new variant of the project in the first place, if the change in direction leads to something substantially different from the original pitch.

          To use an example which is is exaggerated and intended only to try and illustrate the principle, I’d be rather upset if CLANG was reworked into a traditional fighting game, be it Renaissance swordplay inspired or not. Not because that’s not what I pre-ordered in the traditional sense, but because that’s not at all what I agreed to financially support.

    • c-Row says:

      Well, this sounds different to me.

      Godus will be free-to-play, and while Molyneux admitted this brings challenges on PC and Mac where the model is less popular, in characteristic style he talked up the impact freemium mechanics will have on the game.

    • John Walker says:

      For all your fury about this, 22Cans made it explicitly clear to me that they haven’t decided on pricing for the mobile version, and that they’ve not announced whether it will be F2P.

      So, either they haven’t, and your rage is confusing. Or they have, and now they’re backtracking.

      • somnolentsurfer says:

        Fury? Well excuse me for trying to help get the facts straight.

        As the variety of links posted throughout this thread show, they have previously indicated that the mobile version will be F2P. Quoting Sam on 22 Cans forum, “Godus on mobile follows a F2P model but the version on PC (win, mac, linux) is treated completely differently”: http://twitpic.com/cs617n.

        I don’t know when that was first announced, because I (for real this time) don’t have the time to go back rewatching all the Kickstarter videos to fact check the claim that people were pushed to buy two copies so one could be mobile. It would certainly seem a silly thing for them to have pushed given that the iOS App Store at least, to the best of my knowledge, has never made it possible for developers to give copies to backers. Also, I’m not that bothered. Because, you know, PC gaming.

        • captainparty says:

          The apple App store does let you give out copies, by creating codes to be redeemed.

          The interview with Moly in the guardian, he specifically states that the game is free to play and that its been a challenge working it out on PC and Mac, after the rest of 22cans tried to ignore that their boss had let his particular cat out of the bag too early, they’re now back tracking, but have never, satisfactorily to me at least, convinced me that the game won’t be Free To Play on all platforms.

          They specifically said that cross platform play would be possible and advertised the two version pledge to allow this, I know this because its the reason I backed at that level. It looks like I’ve been mislead in to over paying at least once, but possibly twice.

          • somnolentsurfer says:

            The Guardian interview was in their mobile app section, and 22 Cans posted a video immediately after in which Peter Molyneux confirmed the Win/Mac/Linux versions will not be free to play. There are plenty of reasons to think Molyneux might exaggerate or under deliver. But you’d have to be pretty cynical to think he’s outright lying.

            And are you sure on the Apple thing? None of the other Kickstarters I’ve backed come with iOS versions, and nor have any of the Humble Bundles that have included mobile games. As far as I can tell Apple promo codes are limited to 50 per release.

      • TaylanK says:

        Wow, defensive much?

      • Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

        O.O

        Bloody hell.

        Thanks for trying to help get the facts straight, somnolentsurfer!

  5. Hyphe says:

    GODUS has been an example of how not to communicate with backers from start to finish.

  6. magikmw says:

    For the sake of my sanity – PC is not a system, it’s a type of a computer – Windows, MacOSX and Linux are all operating systems, running on Personal Computers! PC != Windows.
    Also, I’m glad I haven’t backed this. I was hopeful when Molyneux left Microsoft to do his own thing, but I’m getting more and more dissapointed, starting from the cow clicker ‘game – thing’, ending so far on this piece of confusing news.

  7. Meat Circus says:

    Well, there is that big fuck off Windows logo right at the top of the Kickstarter pitch video, that has been there right since the start:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/22cans/project-godus

    • John Walker says:

      Er yes, there has. So?

      • somnolentsurfer says:

        So, you’ve basically just created confusion where there is none?

        • John Walker says:

          I’m completely at a loss. Of course the game was announced for PC. That’s why it’s of concern to see it being described now as a mobile game, and no mention of PC publishing, servers, etc!

          I mean, I wrote this in the text.

          • somnolentsurfer says:

            It was announced as multi platform. The last video on their channel, released two days ago, shows it being played on a Mac and promises the alpha to backers in one week’s time. They’ve previously said the mobile version will be F2P, and there’s nothing in this video that suggests any of that has changed…

            Only trying to help.

          • Cinek says:

            Is it? What I see there is that they are joyful to have their game ported onto the mobile devices. Nothing that’s harmful in any way to the PC version.
            You must be reading something else than I read from these texts.

    • ZHsquad says:

      I think it was more the fact that in the recent interview PC wasn’t mentioned.

  8. Crosmando says:

    Glorious glorious shitstorm incoming

  9. SanguineAngel says:

    I think this is just a poorly communicated update specific the the distribution of the mobile version. I don’t /think/ there’s anything ominous going on. Would appreciate some clarification from the 22cans though

  10. RaveTurned says:

    Perhaps the publishing deal applies to mobile versions only, with the desktop versions funded by other means (the kickstarter, 22Cans’ own funds etc).

    Do we even know whether the desktop and mobile versions are equivalent? Could be that the mobile component is an distinct aspect of the game that somehow still ties into the world used by the desktop version (when playing online, anyway).

    • John Walker says:

      We do, yes. As I said, the KS page described the price as offering you a digital download, one of PC, Mac or Mobile. It also suggested that you buy at a higher level to get two codes, to get both a PC AND a mobile version.

      • MunkeyBalls says:

        THIS

        They basically told people to get the $30 backer level so they could play the game on both platforms. Now making the mobile version free gives people a sour taste in their mouths.

        • RaveTurned says:

          Huh. I can’t find that on the main KS page. :/ Am I going blind in my old age, or has the page been changed since then?

          • Belsameth says:

            You can’t change the reward tiers after they’ve been purchased at least once, so this is purely speculation. It just says 2 copies, and no mention of platform. (Like a lot of KSes do lately, see Planet Explorer.)

  11. Sergey Galyonkin says:

    It’s just Peter Molyneux being Peter Molyneux

  12. FriendlyNeighbourhoodMurderer says:

    I do hope this is a misunderstanding. I don’t care at all for mobile games, and if they infest my PC version with F2P crap, then I will… write an angry letter!

    (and of course never ever support them ever again)

  13. hampa says:

    They have always said in their videos that the mobile version would be F2P and the PC/Mac version would not be. They are going with a mobile publisher for their mobile version and in the joint press release they are not going to start talking about the PC version when, from the mobile publishers perspective, that is a competing game.

  14. FlammableD says:

    I work literally two buildings down from 22Cans, want me to go knock on the door and ask what’s going on?

  15. WarderDragon says:

    I have absolutely no faith in Peter Molyneux anymore. He seems like a cool guy, a visionary even, but the quality of his most recent “games” – and I use the term lightly – means his name serves as a warning sign to me when used in advertisement. Like, Brian Fargo can get me excited about a game. I’d never back a Peter Molyneux project, though. Not delivering on promises is what he’s infamous for, after all.

  16. Bartack says:

    “It will launch on PC and Mac, alongside mobile devices Android, iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.”

    http://www.joystiq.com/2013/05/21/molyneuxs-godus-goes-mobile-mobage-with-publisher-dena/

  17. Simes says:

    The Kickstarter page expressly stated that there would be no publishers involved. Although this wouldn’t be the first time that Molyneux has promised something other than what was delivered.

  18. serioussgtstu says:

    Just aside from all of this, does anyone know what happened to the Curiosity game? They said that something amazing was going to happen at the end of it, but googling only turns up info about the Mars Rover; it seems to have disappeared.

  19. Flobulon says:

    Really don’t understand the confusion here, Molyneux has already confirmed that the PC version will not be free to play, and the alpha is going out this week.

    • Arthas says:

      Ok I’m really confused now.
      So you are telling me the mobile version of the game is going to be f2p while all other plattforms will not be? What kind of sense does that even make?

      • fish99 says:

        It’s fairly typical for the mobile marketplace. Angry Birds for instance is F2P/ad supported on mobile, but pay once on PC.

  20. pupsikaso says:

    Is this the last straw for anyone else? Or has everyone else gave up on Molyneux long ago?

  21. Kinth says:

    Molyneux reminds me of an aging rockstar trying really hard to recreate his former glory and make himself relevant, but just keeps releasing flop after flop.

    Please just retire you have gone from one of the best game developers to someone who just releases constant pretentious shite.

    Godus sounds great but I am more worried than excited about Molyneux’s involvement in it. He can’t just leave it at a simple concept everyone loves, he has to tack some gimmick that he tries to disguise as innovation on to it.

  22. Jimbo says:

    The situation with Expeditions: Conquistador is annoying. As far as I can tell from their updates, the final version of that has been ready to go for almost two months now, but hasn’t been released to backers because they are now arranging some other deal with a publisher.

    Not really seeing the point in funding projects if they’re then going to start screwing around with development to please a publisher anyway. They can go to the publisher for funding next time.

    • Voronwer says:

      Not true. While they would have released the game sooner, they admitted that it wasn’t as finished as they would have liked. For the past two months, they’ve been working on polishing up the game, fixing bugs, improving animations and sounds, etc. I really don’t get why people keep getting their panties in a twist over this. Logic Artists have been upfront about everything and are delivering more than they set out to in a reasonable timespan. Yes, it’s later than first planned, but you’re getting a better game for it.

  23. Yachmenev says:

    John: Good work with this article. I’m a backer of the game, believe in it, and I like Molyneux, but they need to be better with communication of stuff like this. You’re absolutely right that they have caused confusion, and they need to hear that.

    • AngoraFish says:

      OMG, confusion on the internet! Who’d have thunk it?

      • Yachmenev says:

        And when there is confusion, we discuss to try and make it better next time.

  24. AngoraFish says:

    Storm, meet teacup.

  25. Arthas says:

    So glad I didn’t back this game.
    F2p on mobile devices but NOT on pc? Why would I pay for something i can get for free?

    Also didn’t they say there were going for cross plattform play? How is that possible if the let that publisher handle all the server stuff for mobile devices?

  26. Shadrach says:

    That video is unlisted, it means just those with the link should be able to see it… someone’s been a naughty backer ;)

  27. captainparty says:

    So, according to kickstarter T&Cs, if you mislead folks into backing your project by either changing things with no explanation or not mentioning things like they game they get if they pledge will be available for free, backers should be able to get a refund.

  28. Slinkyboy says:

    These greedy fucks wanna collect money on a shitty mobile priority and then release a shitty mobile port on the PC. You guys are raging at the wrong blog.

  29. Slinkyboy says:

    Well the kickstarter shows mobile versions as well, so obviously it’s your loss for thinking you’re getting a full fledged PC game and a dumbed down mobile game. It’s the other way another hahahahahahaha suckers born every minute!

  30. Jakkar says:

    A worthy post – this is games journalism on a quiet day, provoking discussion and reminding people like Molyneux, infamous for broken promises and misleading advertising, that they are being watched.

    Ignore the trolls, Mr. Walker. You’re giving them too much attention, go play some games =)

  31. tsh says:

    we’re being played. One man’s fantasy world.

  32. DrZhark says:

    To me, this is the final straw, the nail in the coffin for Molyneaux’s reputation. The one who once brought us Populous, Dungeon Keeper and Black and White….. you’re done. I won’t give you the benefit of the doubt any more. It seems like those games happened in a different life. Godus is now F2P with a money milking publisher after a Kickstarter??? you gotta be kidding me. So long Molyneaux, you had my heart but not any more.

  33. Utnac says:

    However, there are still some issues regarding the mobile version, especially for those who paid the £20 in order to get one.

    I don’t see the issue here, people donated £20 towards the games development and were promised access to a game at the end of it, they are getting that game they were promised. Whats changed?