Eurogamer have published a really superb article in which they speak to Bryan Henderson, the “winner” of Curiosity, who was promised a life-changing prize. That prize turned out to be the role of “God of Gods” in the multiplayer version of Godus, and a share of the money made by the game. Well, a share of the money made by the multiplayer bit of the game, which was always supposed to be part of the game. But apparently, because it’s still not in there two years on, means he doesn’t get anything. Nothing at all. Not even emails for month after month, according to Wesley Yin-Poole’s heartbreaking interview with the 21 year old.
They then go on to put this to Molyneux himself, hours after we’d published our article that revealed the depth of mess that Godus is currently in. Along with the predictable gush of apologies, Molyneux also makes some odd claims that entirely contradict a video he’d recorded the same day.
Eurogamer’s story is devastating. Curiosity was a mobile game* in which people mindlessly tapped on a cube and could spend money through microtransactions in order to tap harder. At the centre of the cube, promised Molyneux, was something life-changing – and not money, he said, but something we could never guess, something enormous. It turned out when 18 year old Bryan Henderson won that it was a role in a forthcoming game, Godus, and indeed some money – a share of the sales. Godus, at the time, hadn’t been put up on Kickstarter, and so there was no guarantee the project would even go ahead, but that didn’t slow Molyneux. It was an “insane risk”, he told us in July 2012, because he “takes insane risks all the time”.
Godus, of course, was funded. A few months later, a fractured and extremely poor version of the game appeared on Steam’s Early Access with no multiplayer component. Months went by and multiplayer still didn’t happen. Then, it briefly did and was almost instantly removed since it didn’t work. 26 months since the game was funded, no multiplayer has been added, and as we wrote on Monday, the developers think it likely never will be.
Which means that all this time later, Henderson has had no role to play in Godus. But what Eurogamer have revealed today is far worse – he’s also been almost entirely ignored by 22cans and Molyneux. After being invited into the Guildford offices of 22cans, and asked to sign a contract, Henderson returned to Scotland and waited for his prize to become a reality. And it never has. Worse, communication almost immediately dried up, with Henderson eventually giving up trying to keep in contact with the studio.
When Eurogamer put this to Molyneux on Monday, he gave an all-too familiar burst of apologies and blame-taking.
“I totally and absolutely and categorically apologise. That isn’t good enough and I’ll take it on my own shoulders that I should have made sure he was communicated with. We will from today onwards do that.”
It’s obviously appalling that it took a journalist approaching the company for them to acknowledge they should have stayed in touch with the winner of their much publicised competition, but it’s even more concerning that it seems to be accepted that there’s no reason Henderson should have yet received any of the “millions and millions” Molyneux boasted the game has made in a video released by 22cans on Monday evening. Henderson’s “clock will start ticking” as soon as they’ve implemented the multiplayer hub that the project’s new lead has already said he can’t see happening.
“I simply can’t see us delivering all the features promised on the kickstarter page, a lot of the multiplayer stuff is looking seriously shaky right now especially the persistent stuff like hubworld.” – Konrad Naszynski
Speaking to Pocket Gamer last August, Molyneux told them that Henderson, “makes a portion of every pound we make. He accrues all that money – we’re not paying him yet, but he’s accruing it.”
It’s also worth noting that when we spoke to Molyneux in 2012, he told us that Henderson would be God Of Gods for a very significant period of time. He said, “we could make it five years. We could make it ten years.”
But when he spoke to PG last year, it had enormously shrunk to just half a year:
“His reign will last for about six months from when we unlock multiplayer. Within those six months, communities can come together to earn the right to challenge Bryan and overthrow him as god of gods.”
So potentially far less than six months then. Indeed, if Bryan gets overthrown, Molyneux told them, then that new person would start earning profits from the game. A madly different prospect from the “life-changing” claims made three years ago.
Another odd claim to come out of Eurogamer’s interview is that the reason the multiplayer hasn’t worked in Godus, and for the extensive PC development delay. As Eurogamer puts it, “Godus’ publisher forced a server switch back in November 2014, which then forced 22Cans to build new tech in order for people to keep playing the game.” Right, but how does this square up with claims made in the Kickstarter pitch, where Molyneux explained they were turning to crowd-funding in order to avoid needing a publisher.
“But we need funding to continue, and rather than partner with a publisher, we’re keen to explore the exciting new Kickstarter platform. It means we can stay independent and it gives you the opportunity to have a voice in the development of GODUS… 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).”
Five months later 22cans signed a publisher for Godus.
Finally, in the Eurogamer article Molyneux tells Wesley, “But, we are – and this is going to sound ridiculously excusey but it’s the actual truth – we are now working on combat, which is the piece of the puzzle we need in the game before we start working on the Hubworld and the multiplayer.” Which strikes as a little strange, since in the video he recorded on the same day, he explained that they were currently working on finishing the story and that combat was planned for later this month.
Where does this leave things? In such a muddle. With Molyneux appearing to contradict himself in interviews and videos recorded in the same afternoon, it’s really hard to know how to unpick it all. And as for Bryan Henderson, the chances of his ever becoming God Of Gods does look slim. That he may not receive anything at all seems utterly awful.
We are hoping to speak to Peter Molyneux very soon and hopefully put these confusions to him.
*It’s worth noting that Peter Molyneux assured Rock, Paper, Shotgun that Curiosity would be coming out on PC, to the extent where he appeared at our PC-only show, Rezzed, in 2012, to promote the game to an audience of PC gamers. He later tried to claim that there was never meant to be a PC version when Nathan interviewed him for RPS, then when pushed stated, “Maybe said it was possible to do on PC, but I think we didn’t do it on PC because we put all of our love of tapping into tapping with a finger and not with a mouse. I can’t remember playing it on PC, but I can imagine it would be a little bit more tedious with a mouse than it would be with a finger.” Which makes it a touch galling he plugged it at our PC show.