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Cube Your Enthusiasm: Molyneux's Curiosity Delayed

And inside, we will find a single acorn. Then the world will explode.

I was ready. I spent weeks studying cubes – pouring over research, feeling them, learning their structural weaknesses, biting them, stacking them, attempting to fit them into round holes, living among them in their natural habitat, trying to understand what they fear most. I was going to crack open Curiosity‘s chocolate shell in one definitive swing and devour the “life-changing” nougat inside. But now it’s been delayed into September, and I really just want a candy bar. Peter Molyneux and co have, however, released a trailer that depicts a cube doing cube things. So that’s something, I suppose.

Sure enough, that’s a cube. For now, 22 Cans has shifted the release date to “September 2012” and left it at that. As for why, I haven’t the foggiest, but I’ll see if Molyneux’s willing to elaborate.

Speaking of, he recently defend his decision to include purchasable chisels – one of which will go for £50,000 – during a keynote at 2012’s Unite conference in Amsterdam (via Pocketgamer).

“Monetisation is a dirty word for indies – but it shouldn’t be. We shouldn’t think of it as monetising gamers, but rather turning them into investors.”

He further noted that anyone who makes a purchase in Curiosity will be granted “investor” status, which gets them beta access to the big game that’ll eventually emerge from mad doctor Molyneux’s 22 tiny experiments and their name in its credits. Problematically, that doesn’t sound like any investor I’ve ever heard of. It sounds like someone who purchased a videogame – which is what it is. I’m all for small developers getting the monetary dues they so rightfully deserve, but this comes off as warping the meaning of a word to make things sound nicer than they really are. At best, it’s unnecessary. At worst, it obscures Molyneux’s message and makes him seem downright disingenuous.

That said, he also noted in a chat with Eurogamer a while back that he doesn’t “expect for a second for the cube to make us any money.” To hear him tell it, the tech’s majorly expensive, and it’s all motivated by, well, curiosity more than a desire to chip away at our wallets. “The reason I’m charging for the chisels is as a proof point on that motivation,” he said. “Is the simplest form of motivation in the world – what’s in the box? – sufficient to ask people to invest money in it?”

But then, that’s Molyneux for you. Sometimes he’s tough to take at face value, but I do think his heart’s generally in the right place. I mean, it is an interesting question to pose in this day and age. To a lesser extent, things like Cow Clicker – which originally implemented microtransactions as a joke – have tested similar waters, and the results have been surprising (i.e. yes, people wanted to spend money in order to click on cows better). We live in a strange new world. Why not figure out how it works?

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Nathan Grayson

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