Peter Molyneux Interview: “I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more”

When Peter Molyneux agreed to speak to me, I knew the interview was going to be tense. I knew that an article we’d posted on Monday, asking what was going on with the development of Godus, had kicked up an enormous storm for 22cans and its boss, with the rest of the gaming press picking up and running with it. So I assumed, when he agreed to chat, he knew that it wasn’t going to be a smooth ride. I wanted to get to the root of so much that now seems to form the reputation of the developer, the outlandish promises that so often aren’t kept, the ridiculous time-frames claimed, and the often disappointing or lacklustre results. I especially wanted to do this now that the people funding such things aren’t deep-pocketed publishers, but the players themselves. I wasn’t expecting it to take us in the direction of Molyneux’s declaring that I was “driving him out of the games industry”.

We spoke on the phone on Wednesday evening, Molyneux speaking from the Guildford offices of his studio, 22cans. Sounding stressed, but composed, Molyneux asked how I’d like to begin, whether I had questions, or should I just let him talk. I told him I had questions, many questions, and so we began.

RPS: Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?

Peter Molyneux: That’s a very…

RPS: I know it’s a harsh question, but it seems an important question to ask because there do seem to be lots and lots of lies piling up.

Peter Molyneux: I’m not aware of a single lie, actually. I’m aware of me saying things and because of circumstances often outside of our control those things don’t come to pass, but I don’t think that’s called lying, is it? I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly lied, at all. And if you want to call me on one I’ll talk about it for sure.

RPS: During the Kickstarter for Godus you stated, regarding that you don’t want to use a publisher stating, “It’ll just be you and our unbridled dedication (no publishers).” And five months later you signed with a publisher.

Peter Molyneux: Absolutely. And at that time I wish we had raised enough money to not need a publisher.

RPS: But you got more than you asked–

Peter Molyneux: We could have gone and we were asked to by publishers to publish the Steam version, but we turned that down. The economics of doing Godus, unfortunately Kickstarter didn’t raise enough money. Now the trouble is with Kickstarter, you don’t really fully know how much money you need and I think most people who do Kickstarter would agree with me here. You have an idea, you think you need this much, but as most people will say with Kickstarter, if you ask for too much money up front because of the rules of Kickstarter, it’s very, very hard to ask for the complete development budget. I think Double Fine have gone back and asked for more money because development is a very, very, it’s a very confusing and bewildering time, and it’s very hard to predict what will happen.

RPS: Yes, but you know that. You’ve been working in the industry for over thirty years, you know how much money it costs to make a game and you put a specific amount–

Peter Molyneux: No, I don’t, I disagree John. I have no idea how much money it costs to make a game and anyone that tells you how much it’s going to cost to make a game which is completely a new experience is a fool or a genius.

RPS: But you have to have enough experience to know the basics of budgeting a videogame, you’ve been doing it for thirty years!

Peter Molyneux: No, I disagree. See this is where you’re wrong. I think even Hollywood struggles. Lots of films go over budget. I’ll give you an example, I had some repair works done to my house, they went over budget by 50%. I said exactly the same thing. Anything that involves creativity, you may think it should be a defined process, but it’s not. And the reason that it’s not a defined process is that the people who work on it aren’t robots, and you can’t predict whether someone is going to be brilliant and you give them a piece of code to do and they do it in a day, or whether they’re going to take a month to do it, and that’s the problem with creativity. Being creative is a very, very unpredictable force, and you try your best. You try your best to predict these things but very often you can be wrong. And I have been wrong. Every single project I have ever done, and people know this, every single project I have done, I have been wrong about the times. And I’ve been very honest about that. And the only time I have absolutely stuck to my dates was on Fable 3 and I shouldn’t have done that. I should have gone back and asked for more time.

RPS: I understand budgets can go–

Peter Molyneux: I’m running a business and god I wish to god that I could predict the time and I can assure you every single person has worked their ass off to try to make this game as quickly and effectively as they possibly can and everybody here is incredibly dedicated and still is. I mean, the Godus team were here at half past eight last night. We try as hard as we can to get things right the first time, to get a feature right the first time, we try to implement things that are going to be effective, but when you’re creating something new it’s almost impossible, John. Here’s the thing: this is what I truly believe. Making a computer game that’s entertaining and that’s incredible and that’s amazing is almost impossible, it’s almost impossible to do.

RPS: I recognise that things go over budget, obviously they do. What you said at the start was that you didn’t make enough money from the Kickstarter. You set an amount you want to make, you made about £100k more than that, you took over a half a million pounds of people’s money, knowing it wasn’t going to be enough to make the game.

Peter Molyneux: Well, I think if you talk to anyone, and this is the advice I have given to people about Kickstarter, is to not ask for too much. You cannot unfortunately ask for the actual amount you need. Because you don’t really know. This is how I based my assumption of what money we needed. We had started implementing Godus, we were working on a prototype that was really going well. I thought, ‘Oh, this looks pretty good.’ I asked everybody here, how long do you think we’ll need to develop the game in full. We all agreed that nine months was about the right amount of time to complete the game. We did the due diligence on it. We asked ourselves if there were any technical questions and it all seemed to make sense. This wasn’t me just plucking a date out of the air.

The reality came along when we chose our middleware, we had problems with the middleware. When we started implementing some of the features that were on paper, they just didn’t work. Now I wish that every single idea you ever had when you’re developing a game works first time, but they don’t. When we first released Godus in May, to some of the pledgers, we had taken an approach to this thing called the timeline and it just didn’t work. People were just not motivated by it. We went back to the drawing board on that. What I’m trying to say without going through every sort of, every bad story about development, when you’re creating something new, it’s like walking through a foggy forest. You’re never sure if you’re taking the wrong route or the right route.

I know you can call on me, John, ‘Oh you’ve got thirty years, surely you know what to do,’ but I would say that anybody who is creating something new and original and different, which Godus is, it’s almost impossible to ask for the right time, and in the end the amount of money that we have spent on making Godus is far, far exceeded what we got on Kickstarter. Far, far exceeded. Because you got to remember on Kickstarter, although we got £100k more than what we asked for, after Kickstarter take their cut, after paying VAT, you have to pay off after completing all the pledges, it’s far less than that. You do the maths, it’s that simple – you can do this math, we had 22 people here. If you take the average salary for someone in the industry, which must be about £30k, that’s 22 people, multiplied by £30k, divided by 12. You work out how many months Kickstarter money gives us.

We saw this coming, in around about March, end of March time. I knew by that time that the game was not going as it should have gone. I could have gone back to my pledges and asked for more money, but instead I went to a publisher and just signed up the mobile rights. Not the Steam rights, even though that would have made our life a lot easier to sign the Steam rights and we did have companies after us for the PC and the console rights. We ringfenced that and just did the mobile version and there were other reasons, but the money they gave us upfront far exceeded the money that we got off Kickstarter. And that was the business decision that you have to take, because you have to make these sacrifices both personally and professionally in the sake of making a great game.

RPS: You asked for less money on Kickstarter than you knew you were going to need because you didn’t want to ask for too much money.

Peter Molyneux: No, I didn’t say that. I asked for a sensible amount. If I was a sensible business man, then you would probably have a 100% contingency. That is the way that you run a business, is you would have contingency, and I would have to say in the Kickstarter campaign, we need one and a half million, because we want a 100% contingency in case something goes wrong. Now that is problematic if you’re a backer and anyway, if you go back to the Kickstarter time, people were already very… They’d been quite fractious that I was going on Kickstarter anyway. There was a lot of negative press about, you know ‘Why does Peter Molyneux need to go on Kickstarter?’, ‘Why is he doing it, Kickstarter isn’t for people like him.’ I think most people if you speak to about Kickstarter will say, don’t set your price too high, and make sure that every penny you ask for is justified. And asking for an additional five hundred thousand for a 100% contingency is something that’s hard to justify, especially in those times.

The problem with Kickstarter is that if you get to day thirty and you don’t make your pledged amount, which we got to like three days before our cut off, before we hit our pledged amount, then you don’t get anything. Then all that work and all that effort and all that exposure and all the hangovers that Kickstarter have, the biggest one is that takes the fire out of any excitement you can generate in the press, has been used up and you haven’t got any money. I’m not saying that in a perfect ideal world, everybody would go on Kickstarter and probably say the same as I did, as I do now. You go on and and you say, “We think it’s going to cost us nine months to develop, here’s the costs, it’s 22 people multiplied by the salary, that’s how much we need to get, but we’re going to ask for double that because we want 100% contingency.’ I think that’s the way it should be done but I don’t know anyone who does that.

RPS: OK, in 2012 Nathan asked for us, what happens if it doesn’t get funded? And you said, that you were not doing it for the money, you were doing it to get people’s feedback, it was feedback you were really after.

Peter Molyneux: That was one of the main reasons, yeah. I could have gone to January, December/January, I could have used my money I guess, I wouldn’t have had enough money, I’ve already used my money to found the company, and Kickstarter was there and it was an attractive thing to go into, not only to get you funding but it also gave you access to people who were passionate about the game and to help the game. And it was very much a thing of the moment. You only have to do the economics again John to realise that if 22cans doesn’t have a publisher, and it doesn’t have a VC, and it doesn’t share ownership by anybody else, then where’s the money going to come from? And it’s true, I didn’t need the money, because if the Kickstarter didn’t work I could have gone to a publisher. I said that in my Kickstarter campaign, and I didn’t, we didn’t until we actually needed that money, and some people would say, ‘You shouldn’t leave it so late.’ But we know that we did leave it to, not the last moment, but we left it as long as possible. When you see the writing on the wall, you see the writing on the wall.

RPS: The implication is that the PC didn’t go to a publisher and all that, but the reality is that you stopped developing the PC version and left it as broken as it is today.

Peter Molyneux: No, we have always said, right from the very start, if you go back through all the videos that Jack and I did, we said exactly this. This was our strategy. Firstly we would release a build, a very, very early build, after just six months, well five months of development, we would release an early build to the backers in May. We did that.

Secondly, we would release a build in Steam Early Access and it would be very very broken. I think we started, I can’t remember the start percentage but it was way before 50%. We absolutely did that and then we said very clearly, in every one of our videos, we’re going to spend up to Christmas iterating through that and then we’re going to go on to the mobile version and then we’re going to finish the mobile version and come back to the PC and refine it and polish it and make it the game it should be and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re doing precisely that.

And if you look at our front page on Steam, that’s what it said. It says 53%, it doesn’t say 98%, and the reason it’s 53% because we have to, absolutely have to put a story in the game, and that story comes out on Friday to the opt-in branch on Steam.

Then we have to put absolutely amazing, incredible combat, and this is totally unique combat, and the reason this is totally unique combat is that we have to solve one fundamental problem and that is how do you mix an RTS game with a god game. Because the problem is with combat in Godus, is that you’ve got this world that you can absolutely shape, and you can use all your god powers – we’re putting god powers in – you can use all your god powers that are cataclysmic but the wars, the fighting and the battles, have to take place between these little people and that is a real design challenge.

But we are absolutely focusing, the gameplay team – the original gameplay team that was on Godus right from the start – right on Godus now, we’re focusing that gameplay team on that feature and we’ve recruited someone who’s got some really amazing ideas on how to do things like ranking, grouping, and group behaviour because that’s the trick of the problem here – how are you going to group your troops together? – and we’re going to solve that. And we think – and again, I don’t know John, and you might think, ‘for fucks sake, why don’t you know, because you’ve been in the industry for thirty years,’ but I think we’ll be done by Easter. And then we can start moving that percentage up.

But we’re still not finished because we had multiplayer in the game October of 2013. We took it so far multiplayer, but then we realised that to maintain multiplayer in the game would really slow down development simply because of the way it works, it’s all got to be in sync and all that stuff. So after we’ve done the story, after we’ve done combat, we’ll then go back to multiplayer. And then the percentage will start moving up.

RPS: But do you hear how crazy these times sound? You’re talking about things you said you would do in 2013 as if that was just the other day.

Peter Molyneux: But John, every game I’ve ever worked on has been made–

RPS: So why say it’s going to take you seven months to make it when you know it’s not?

Peter Molyneux: One thing, Godus will be one of the fastest games I’ve ever done. If you go back and look at every single game I’ve ever worked on, ever, other than Fable 3, they’ve all taken longer than with the exception perhaps of the original Populous. They’ve all taken longer.

RPS: So why go to people who trust you and trust your reputation and ask them for half a million pounds and say you’re going to finish the game in seven months, when you know you’re not going to?

Peter Molyneux: Because I absolutely believe that and my team believe that. That’s what the creative process is.

RPS: You’re asking me to accept that you know you’ve run late on every game you’ve ever made but you were going to finish this one in a ludicrous and obviously impossible seven months?

Peter Molyneux: No, I didn’t say absolutely we’d be there, I said we’d try to finish it on this time. And why are you beating me up on these dates things? You sound like a publisher.

RPS: It’s three years later! People gave you half a million pounds and you’ve taken their money–

Peter Molyneux: One is, John, you’re becoming very emotional, I think firstly you need to take a breath, because if I had walked away from Godus I’d agree with your points, but I haven’t walked away from Godus. We are committed to Godus, we are recruiting people to go on to Godus, I have never moved that percentage beyond 52% where it is now.

RPS: How long should backers wait for you to deliver the game they paid for three years ago?

Peter Molyneux: I don’t know. All I know is that there are people here that have been working on Godus, that we have worked on Godus for one hundred and twenty thousand man-hours. We have got three terabytes of documentary feature. We’ve replied to 31,000 posts and tickets. We’ve done 57 community videos. Do you know how many updates we’ve done on Steam?

RPS: I don’t think anyone who paid for the game cares.

Peter Molyneux: How many updates have we done on Steam?

RPS: I don’t think anyone who paid for the game cares. I think they want the game they paid for three years ago or their money back.

Peter Molyneux: We’re trying as hard as we possibly can.

RPS: I don’t think you are. You’ve said yourself–

Peter Molyneux: John, John, John–

RPS: You said yourself, that you should not have gone and focused on the mobile version until the PC version was finished. This is all very disingenuous in light of you saying that.

Peter Molyneux: No, I actually said, “I wish I hadn’t focused on,” I didn’t say I shouldn’t have done.

RPS: [Laughs]

Peter Molyneux: This is the plan that we laid out John. Go back and look at the videos. Go back and look at what we said to the community. Go and talk to the, I’ve done twelve design Skype talks, we’ve had the bigger backers, we’ve taken them over to E3, go talk to those people. Talk to people in the studio, this studio has worked incredibly hard on making something that is totally unique. That’s what we’re trying to do. And making something totally unique takes time. How long did it take for Minecraft to be final?

RPS: He didn’t take anyone’s money before making it with promises he didn’t keep.

Peter Molyneux: I’m afraid you’ll have to check your facts there–

RPS: He sold an alpha, he didn’t make any promises.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, and we have absolutely, categorically stayed in Early Access for that exact reason and we have been honest about the percentage that we think the game is finished.

RPS: OK, let’s move on. How do you think Bryan Henderson’s life has been changed?

Peter Molyneux: Well, Bryan Henderson, we need Bryan Henderson, we need multiplayer to work before his life is changed. He’s still going to get what is coming to him, but we need to get through that development. It’s very much exactly the same problem

RPS: Your lead developer on Godus said on your forum that, “To be brutally candid and realistic I simply can’t see us delivering all the features promised on the Kickstarter page. Lots of the multiplayer stuff is looking seriously shaky right now, especially the persistent stuff like Hubworld.”

Peter Molyneux: Well, let me explain that. That was Konrad, and he actually is a backer of Godus.

RPS: A backer who pursued the job at your company because he was so dissatisfied with the state of the game. That’s what he said on your forum.

Peter Molyneux: No. That’s not the case. He actually joined us before we released the version, so that couldn’t have been the case. So Konrad is one of the main architects of multiplayer, and back in late October we – me and Jack – announcing that in November that we would be at last getting through to multiplayer. And Konrad was super excited, we were all super excited, to get on to that. And then in the first week of November our publisher called up and said, well, sorry about this, but the server system that you use called Polargy, we’re going to close down and you need to re-write the entirety of your server code that drives Godus under this new system–

RPS: Sorry, you’re saying that this is the publisher, but the PC version doesn’t have a publisher.

Peter Molyneux: Yes, I know, but you’re talking about everyone in the world playing Godus not being able to play Godus any more.

RPS: But you said that the PC version doesn’t have a publisher, but the publisher is the reason you had to take away the framework that allowed the multiplayer.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, I know, but John, these things–

RPS: No, I’m asking you to explain–

Peter Molyneux: Why do you– Why don’t you come here for a couple of days, and do your job, and see what goes on here?

RPS: Obviously that’s–

Peter Molyneux: Because what you must realise is that doing a game in today’s world and a game that’s live is a nightmare.

RPS: I know it is. I’ve visited many studios and I know how difficult your job is. What I’m asking is, you said that the PC version is independent of a publisher, that you turned that down, but you’re also saying that the PC version can’t have multiplayer because of the publisher.

Peter Molyneux: But this team isn’t independent of a publisher. And the people who are playing on mobile, some of them are backers incidentally, aren’t independent of a publisher. One of the reasons why we took that publisher on is that they have this server technology which is used to drive the game, which they then drop this bombshell, that we have to change the technology. Unfortunately, this is absolutely true, you can ask the person who did the code here, unfortunately and sadly the team that was going to do multiplayer, then had to switch over and fix that server stuff. That’s just what happens in development. And I wish it didn’t happen in development, and I wish the world was so simple that you could predict that tomorrow’s going to be the same as today, but it’s not.

RPS: Just to clarify, five days ago Konrad wrote, “From the minute I played the alpha, I could see the direction Godus was heading in and I didn’t like it. It took half a year to develop contact with Peter personally before I was offered a design position, initially unpaid, and then another year working at 22cans to get a position there.” So just to be clear he says that he played the alpha and didn’t like it and then came to work for you guys.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah. And that’s fair enough. And he did something about it.

RPS: No, but you just told me that he started working for you before the alpha came out so that wasn’t possible.

Peter Molyneux: I think he had had a temporary– He certainly came to the studio– Let me ask. [shouting in background] Konrad!

[in distance] Konrad: Yeah?

Peter Molyneux: When did you first come to 22cans?

Konrad: [inaudible]

Peter Molyneux: December. 2013. Is that– No, that’s not before the alpha.

RPS: No, long after.

Peter Molyneux: I was wrong. But it’s not a lie.

RPS: No, but it’s frustrating. Let’s go back to Bryan Henderson. The Eurogamer story revealed that you ignored him for nearly two years – that’s awful. And you’ve apologised, but how can that even have ever been a thing that happened?

Peter Molyneux: You’re right, John. It’s wrong. It’s one of those things where I thought someone else was handling it and they were. It was someone – and these are excuses, it’s pointless me writing these excuses – and I thought they were handling it. They left and I assumed incorrectly that they had handed their handling of Bryan off to someone else and they hadn’t.

RPS: But it never crossed your mind to talk to him or anything like that? You were changing his life.

Peter Molyneux: It’s terrible, it’s wrong, it’s bad of me, I shouldn’t have, I should have checked on these things, but there is a million things to check on, John, and that one slipped through. There wasn’t any intention not to use him, or not to incorporate him, but we needed the technology before doing and I am truly sorry and we are writing a letter of apology to him today.

RPS: OK, but only because Eurogamer chased after you.

Peter Molyneux: They, they, they actually did make me realise that I hadn’t checked up on it, it’s true. I am a very flawed human being, as you are pointing out, and I totally accept that I’m a flawed human being.

RPS: Everyone’s a flawed human being, that’s not my point at all.

Peter Molyneux: And when there are thousands of things to check on, you try to rely on your team and this slipped through the net and, you’re right, it shouldn’t have done.

RPS: In 2012–

Peter Molyneux: Why would I have ignored him? I mean, why did I do that? It’s just incompetence.

RPS: OK. In Rezzed–

Peter Molyneux: I mean, I’m sure you are going to write, ‘Peter Molyneux’s incompetent’, and I am.

RPS: No, look, this is ridiculous. Everyone is a flawed human being. My purpose here is not to hang you out. My purpose is to get to the truth of what’s going on here. In Rezzed–

Peter Molyneux: Yeah. I’m giving you– I mean, I would say, if you really want to get to the truth, come down to the studio.

RPS: At Rezzed in 2012, you said that what’s in the middle of the cube is “so valuable, so life-changingly important, I don’t want to waste the value of what’s inside that cube.” Could you have done more to waste it?

Peter Molyneux: Again you’re going down a very emotional line. But it’s born out of– when I did Curiosity and I thought of putting into the center of the cube a royalty share of the revenue for Godus, as soon as his role of God of Gods started, I thought that was a pretty good thing. And as soon as that comes to pass and as soon as we’ve got the technology to do that, I think, he will be getting that money and his reign will last six months and I think it will be an amazing feature.

RPS: OK, so you said that Bryan will be God Of Gods for six months. Just to double-check on this. When we spoke to you on 2012 you told us that it would be a significant amount of time, you estimated five or ten years.

Peter Molyneux: We what?

RPS: You said five or ten years, is what you told us.

Peter Molyneux: For what?

RPS: For being God Of Gods.

Peter Molyneux: No, I’ve always said that his reign would only last a certain amount of time but the God of Gods role, if Godus continues to be as successful as it is on mobile, could last that long. I mean there are mobile games that are being played now – and there are webgames that are being played now – that are decades old.

RPS: Let me quote, you said: “By the way, there would need to be enough time to make it meaningful for him in every sense of the word, but we could make it five years, we could make it ten years. I think I wanted before–”

Peter Molyneux: And then later on I came out and said it would be six months. And I said that again and again. What are you trying to do? You’re trying to prove that I’m a pathological liar, I suppose, aren’t you.

RPS: I’m trying to establish that you don’t tell the truth.

Peter Molyneux: Let me just ask you one question. Do you think from the line of questioning you’re giving me, that this industry would be better without me?

RPS: I think the industry would be better without your lying a lot.

Peter Molyneux: I don’t think I lie.

RPS: Let me just quote you from the Pocket Gamer–

Peter Molyneux: Well no, and and– Yeah, OK, you can carry on quoting me. Obviously I can see your headline now–

RPS: I don’t think you can see my headline now.

Peter Molyneux: Well I think I can.

RPS: What I want to get out of this–

Peter Molyneux: What you’re almost going to get out of this is driving me out of the industry.

RPS: No, what I want–

Peter Molyneux: And well done John, well done! And if that’s what you want, you’re going about it completely the right way.

RPS: If you were to be driven out of the industry it would be as a result of your own actions. I’ve done nothing but quote back things you’ve said and done.

Peter Molyneux: No [inaudible] me being hounded, which is what you’re doing.

RPS: I’m quoting back things that you–

Peter Molyneux: I must have given about fifty thousand hours of interviews and I’m sure if you go back over all of them you could– The only result of this is, I’ve already withdrawn mostly from the press, I’m just going to withdraw completely from the press.

[Since this interview was recorded, Peter Molyneux has done at least two other interviews with press on the same subject, including one with The Guardian which he says will be his last.]

RPS: I’ve done nothing in this interview but quote back things you have said and done.

Peter Molyneux: Yes, I know, and you can– I’m sure– We’re talking 50,000 hours of interview and there’s going to be mistakes. Most of these things you’ve said are mistakes, and most of these things that you have said are coming from the mouth of someone that believes. I believe everything that I’ve said. That’s what I’ve said in countless interviews. I believe. I believed that Godus would take nine months. To be honest with you, if you told me back then it would take two, three years, I probably would have said, ‘Oh god, we probably won’t do Godus then.’ I believe that. If you think that I’ve got some sort of Machiavellian plan, of trying to hide the truth from people why would I do that? Why would I do that? We are committed to, we’ve used all the Kickstarter money, we’re still committed to doing a great version on PC.

RPS: My original question was–

Peter Molyneux: Why isn’t that enough? If you think that we’re a bit shit for taking too long, then fair enough. I don’t know what you get out of this line of questioning.

RPS: My first question wasn’t, ‘Are you a Machiavellian and spiteful liar’, it was ‘Are you a pathological liar?’ It was, do you say stuff that isn’t true without meaning to?

Peter Molyneux: Like anybody that is in the business of creating something that doesn’t exist, I say things that I believe is true, that very often don’t come true and sometimes do come true.

RPS: But you agree though that you do have the reputation, the mock Twitter accounts, all these things, you have this reputation over many years of saying things that are outlandish and impossible.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, and my answer to that nowadays is to not do any press any more. You may have noticed, or you may have not as it doesn’t really matter, that I’m doing a few little conferences but I’m not going to GDC, because I’m not doing anything. I think, you know, I think, a lot of people have turned round and have said that we don’t want to listen to your lies, even though they’re not lies. They’re coming from someone who truly believes and I truly believe that the combat in Godus will be brilliant and I truly believe that it should take around three months to do. But maybe it won’t take three months or maybe it’ll need iterating more. You cannot find anybody in this industry more passionate than me, John.

RPS: OK so–

Peter Molyneux: I literally work sixteen hours a day. I literally work sixteen hours a day. I don’t do that just to lie to people, I do it because I believe I’m doing. I totally believe in what I’m trying to make. Yeah, and you can rile the backers up and get them to ask for their money back and you can say, ‘Oh, you’ve broken your promises,’ but I’m still doing it. I’m still working on it. I’m still putting every ounce of my energy. I’m still not going to my son’s play because I had to work on Godus. I’m still getting shouted at by my wife because I’m not home. Do you know what time I got home last night? Two-thirty in the morning.

RPS: I don’t–

Peter Molyneux: Do you know what I was doing? I was dealing with the shit that all of this has come up, rather than working on Godus.

RPS: But–

Peter Molyneux: I’m someone, I’m defined by what I do in this industry and I love it so much. And, you know, it emotionally hurts me to have someone like yourself be so angry with me and really all I want to do is make a great game. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.

RPS: Do you think you can make a great game?

Peter Molyneux: I think I can try.

RPS: But do you think you can achieve it?

Peter Molyneux: You’ve gotta try, man! There’s one thing that I would love more than anything else, in my life, I’d love in a years time for that percentage on Steam to be 100%. And I’d love to talk to you John and have you say, ‘I understand why it took another year.’ And the only way I’m going to do that, I’m not going to do that by spinning people, and I know that none of this would have come to pass if I had spun the press, I could spin the press. I could have gone on and I could have explained about the delays and I could have done all sorts of interviews but I thought, ‘No, the only way I’m going to do this is to prove it.’ And I’m going to prove it by making a great game. But everything we do here, and everyone here, I can promise you, that’s why you should come here John, and you should see that–

RPS: I don’t doubt for a moment that you work very hard, it’s very obvious that you do work very hard, and I imagine your team works extremely hard, but that’s not really relevant.

Peter Molyneux: Well, I think it is absolutely relevant. Is it relevant that someone like myself, with the reputation that I have, two years ago predicted a date that was wrong, is that really relevant? What is relevant is, is there going to be a great game at the end of this?

RPS: But do you understand that most people now don’t think there is?

Peter Molyneux: The very fact that I’m talking to you. It would be so easy for me to say, ‘No comment.’ I truly care, I truly care about the backers, I truly care what everyone does. We have, we have tried. We have done 207 updates. We’ve gone way beyond what we, some of the things we said in Kickstarter. We’ve given the community tools to edit the game. We never said that in Kickstarter.

RPS: That’s great but there’s lots of things you say in Kickstarter that you haven’t done. Do you think in two and a half years–

Peter Molyneux: Yet! Yet. That we haven’t done yet. There is one Kickstarter promise that I am very worried about but all the rest are going to get done.

RPS: Which is Linux. You made it a stretch goal; that was pretty shitty of you, wasn’t it, when you know you couldn’t do it?

Peter Molyneux: No, it wasn’t shitty of us. If you look at Kickstarter campaigns a lot of people do this, and at that time, you know, Linux seemed more than possible, and we’re waiting for an update from Marmalade to do Linux and they just haven’t supplied it. At that time, it was on the cards for them to develop. They haven’t developed it. And us going back and re-writing the whole of the middleware is, would mean that the development of Godus would stop. We’ve considered it. But you know, it’s months of work.

RPS: Do you think a year and a half, to two years on, after the estimated deliveries on Kickstarter for things like, an art book and various other pledge items that don’t exist, do you think at this point people can get their money back?

Peter Molyneux: Admittedly we should have done–

RPS: So do you think people can get their money back at this point?

Peter Molyneux: The excuse and, the excuse, and it is an excuse and I’ll put my hand up to it and we are going to make it now, the excuse is that we hadn’t finished the game. So you can’t do– it wasn’t an art book, it was a making of book, and we haven’t finished the game. But you know, Jack has got three terabytes of footage and we have now got someone called Connor who is going to be working on that book. Which is, we’ll probably have that out pretty soon.

[It needs to be noted that in the prominent Kickstarter pledge levels, from £199, a “GODUS design/art book” is listed, and not a “making of book”. However, in the graphics at the bottom of the page, it is instead described as a “making of book”.]

RPS: OK but do you not think after this much time that people paid money for a product they haven’t received. Do they at this point deserve their money back – isn’t that just basic business?

Peter Molyneux: No. Because they didn’t buy a product.

RPS: The pledge rewards were certainly a product. Kickstarter’s terms and conditions are explicit that you have to provide those pledge rewards.

Peter Molyneux: But you can’t make a Making Of book till the game’s finished, can you?

RPS: Well, no, but at the same time, because you haven’t supplied the product that was paid for, should you not give people their money back?

Peter Molyneux: No, what you’re saying is what I should have done–

RPS: No, I’m asking should you give the money back, I’m asking nothing but, should they get their money back now?

Peter Molyneux: I don’t think we’re finished developing yet.

RPS: They paid for a product, they waited two years, it still hasn’t shown up. Should they get their money back?

Peter Molyneux: They didn’t pay for a product. That’s not what Kickstarter–

RPS: I’m not talking about Godus, I’m talking about the pledge rewards. For whatever reason, it doesn’t matter why they can’t be finished, they paid for it, they paid at a certain pledge level. They could have pledged ten quid and got the game, which they’ve got, but they pledged a hundred or whatever it was in order to get certain items they’ve not received. Should they not– isn’t it basic business, that they should get their money back?

Peter Molyneux: No. Because they’ve received an awful lot of pledges already.

RPS: No, the people who haven’t. The people who haven’t received their pledge rewards that they’ve paid–

Peter Molyneux: You’re talking as if they haven’t received anything, but they have.

RPS: People paid specific amounts of money to receive specific pledge rewards that they haven’t received. Do they not therefore deserve to receive their money back?

Peter Molyneux: No, they deserve an explanation as to why they haven’t got them yet. Maybe they would deserve their money back if we announced that we weren’t doing something. But we haven’t announced that.

RPS: Why did it take my writing an article about the fact these things don’t exist for you to get round to start making them?

Peter Molyneux: I’ll tell you why, John. Because we’re so fucking busy trying to make this game a great game. Everybody here, every single person here is doing something on the game, with the exception of Michelle, and even Michelle who is the office administrator is now acting as a producer to help out. And someone called Peter Murphy who is the finance director. Everyone else is programming, doing art, coding, doing concept drawings, testing, and there isn’t, there’s not, we’re not a big enough company to have someone who looks after the pledges. We did have someone like that and unfortunately they left and went and left the industry. And you know, maybe if we had more money than anybody else, we’d employ lots of support people to handle that. We’re just a small indie developer. If I was Electronic Arts then, fair enough, justified, because they’ve got the infrastructure. You know I think something like 80% of their people are support people and only 20% people are actually people who produce stuff, who make code and art.

That’s the reason why. Is that right? No. I could spend a day a week going on to boards and answering the boards and I could spend half my day doing it. Christ knows how that would work. I mean, I’ve got absolutely zero free time as it is. We won’t see me, John, going round schmoozing and taking five days to go to GDC. I don’t have a social life.

RPS: You tweeted the other day about how much you were enjoying luxuries of the Mayfair Hotel.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, the Mayfair Hotel, which I went up there because a friend gave me a free, a free suite in the Mayfair Hotel which I didn’t pay for at all, and the reason I was up there was that I had a meeting that finished at 1 o’clock in the morning and then I had a start in the next morning that I went to Casual Connect it was, and I actually met two people – two people – which I helped out charity stuff in the morning. One at 8:30 in the morning, this guy who just got funding from the Welsh council, and one kid from Westminster college who wanted some advice. You can– I’ll tell you what, this is what we’ll do John, I’ll put you on Find A Friend, on Apple, and you can see exactly where I am every moment of my day.

RPS: OK, honestly Peter, I don’t have an Apple product and I don’t want to know where you are at any time.

Peter Molyneux: You’re questioning this, you ask anybody in this studio, I am the first to arrive in the morning and I am the last to leave–

RPS: I’m not denying that you work hard, I’m just saying that you are going to events. It’s silly to say that you’re not going to events.

Peter Molyneux: You just accused me of holidaying in the Mayfair Hotel!

RPS: No, I’m not, I’m just pointing out that you were there for Casual Connect, you do go to events.

Peter Molyneux: No, I was there for one night and one night only.

RPS: Sure, but, OK. It was just an odd point, you were saying you don’t go to events and you went to one last week. It just seemed an odd–

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, and I could have spent– I was over in Amsterdam, great place to spend some time, isn’t it? You’d think I’d take just a couple of days extra just to spend it in the coffee shops. I flew in there, I landed at 11 o’clock at night, I went and I did my talk, and I was back in the office by 6 o’clock in the evening. I am completely dedicated to what I do.

RPS: Me too. I work very hard too. We all work very hard too.

Peter Molyneux: Let’s carry on going. Let’s make me more depressed.

RPS: Do the student forums exist?

Peter Molyneux: The student forums, we set up, I went up to Teeside University, I did a talk, and then the volume of traffic on those student forums got so low because they were all going to the main forums, we stopped it. If there’s enough interest in the students forums, we’ll start it up again.

RPS: Did you provide anyone with support and advice on those forums? The pledge said that you would provide people with feedback on their games and advice for students?

Peter Molyneux: Yes, we did twelve one-hour sessions where we went through people’s games, I’ve actually got their art on the wall here, and we went through people’s games, we went through their designs. Konrad was actually one of those people. Yesterday, in fact, I went to school, a local school, and was helping kids out with their games designs, so yes.

RPS: That’s great. That’s brilliant.

Peter Molyneux: What are you doing at the moment John? You’re trying to find any crack you can to actually destroy us. That’s what this article is going to do, isn’t it?

RPS: I think I’ve found enough cracks already. I think what I’ve done there is fill in one, that’s brilliant news. I’m really glad that that existed and that you did it and that’s good.

Peter Molyneux: Well what cracks have you found?

RPS: [laughs] I think with the whole conversation.

Peter Molyneux: No, I’ve admitted that I get dates wrong, I always have got dates wrong. So that’s not much of a crack. We’ve had the student forum, and we started them and closed them down because people weren’t using them. I’m absolutely happy to start them up again. I’ve admitted my mistake on Bryan. The Making Of book we are going to do now but really it should be done at the end. So where’s your big ‘Watergate’?

RPS: I don’t think there’s a Watergate. You’ve got this bizarre agenda for me that I don’t have. If I have any agenda, if I have any goal to come out of this, it would be for you to commit to not continue this cycle of making promises that you can’t keep.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, I’m totally committed. You, are one of the people, that will drive me out of any press interviews at all. I have done any press interviews–

RPS: Apart from the one to Eurogamer on Monday.

Peter Molyneux: [inaudible ] –about Hololens, you’re not going to have me.

RPS: You spoke to Eurogamer and Gamespot on Monday so that was a couple of interviews.

Peter Molyneux: It wasn’t Monday. It was Eurogamer and Gamespot because of the article you put forward.

RPS: That was Monday, yes.

Peter Molyneux: Was it Monday?

RPS: Yes. So there was press interviews that you recently did, you say that you don’t do them any more, you quite readily do them.

Peter Molyneux: This is not me doing press, this is me reacting to the press. I’m not going to generate any press articles. You go back and have a look. I used to phone up press and I used to invite press into the studio, we don’t do that any more.

RPS: Do you not–

Peter Molyneux: Because people like yourself have said, ‘don’t overpromise.’ OK, I won’t overpromise, because I won’t talk. When was the last time that you saw an article about a game that we’re doing?

RPS: I saw that you made an announcement about The Trail at an event in November.

Peter Molyneux: Yes, I made an announcement about The Trail and I said nothing about it.

RPS: Well, you kind of talked ambiguously about social media and–

Peter Molyneux: I didn’t give dates about it or anything. I now want to step away from the press because you know, that seems to be the only solution to the problem that you’re putting forward. You said, categorically, ‘I want you to stop overpromising. I want you to be like a PR person is’. And my answer to that is, ‘OK John, fine, I won’t talk about my development process, I won’t talk about my games.’ That’s what I’m going to do! There you go, you got what you wanted.

RPS: But do you not see that asking you– There’s a massive gap between not overpromising and taking your ball and going home. There’s a huge gap between the two, which could be talking more sensibly and calmly about these things.

Peter Molyneux: Oh, so you want me to talk calmly? You don’t want me to–

RPS: I don’t want you to hype up people so they spend money on products and are excited to get things that they don’t get.

Peter Molyneux: And that’s exactly what I haven’t done for the last twelve months.

[It’s important to note that Molyneux has done plenty of interviews promoting Godus over the last twelve months.]

RPS: OK, but you haven’t had a game to do that with.

Peter Molyneux: I’ve spoken to people about HoloLens and when people have spoken me up. I haven’t tried to sell you Godus.

RPS: I don’t blame you given the state it’s been in. But that’s the point, you haven’t had anything to sell for twelve months, of course you haven’t.

Peter Molyneux: I did exactly that if you go back and you have a look at what I did in Fable 1 and Fable 2 when the dates were moved, I then hyped all the press up, so I’m not doing that any more.

RPS: No no, and everyone–

Peter Molyneux: You’ve got what you want, haven’t you John? You just don’t want me around.

RPS: Listen, that’s a ridiculous thing to say. I’m saying that of course you haven’t done any promotional press in the last twelve months, you haven’t had anything to promote for twelve months.

Peter Molyneux: Yes I have. Of course I have!

RPS: What?

Peter Molyneux: There’ve been 207 releases on Steam.

RPS: And the reviews of those releases–

Peter Molyneux: There’s been the iOS version and the Android version. I could have hyped those. There’s been the total change around of the timeline in the game, I could have hyped those. I would have hyped those in the old days. Jesus Christ, I kept the development of Black & White going in the press for four years.

RPS: And especially with Black & White 2, people were disappointed when they spent money on the game based on the things you had promised.

Peter Molyneux: Oh my God, you really have got it in. You really don’t like the stuff that I’ve done.

RPS: No, I love some of your games. Absolutely adore some of your games.

Peter Molyneux: [skeptical] Really? And which ones were those.

RPS: Yes! Populous was wonderful, Dungeon Keeper, Syndicate, wonderful, wonderful entire industry-changing games for which I have massive respect and admiration.

Peter Molyneux: Right. They were all late.

RPS: I’m not complaining–!

Peter Molyneux: Dungeon Keeper, do you know what I had to do– Maybe this will give you an insight. Even though I was working at Electronic Arts, I paid to finish Dungeon Keeper at Electronic Arts, because they wanted to force me to finish the product a year early. I said no, take the team to my house, the whole team went to my house and we worked slavishly hard on the game and finished it. That’s, you know–

RPS: Do you not see the difference between being late for a publisher and being late for half a million pounds that gamers gave you?

Peter Molyneux: Well the publisher gives you– I could have said that the game was finished a year ago. But I didn’t. Why didn’t I? Ask yourself that. Why didn’t I just say, oh the game’s finished?

RPS: Because I think that would have been the end of your reputation if you put out a game that bad a year ago.

Peter Molyneux: I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more.

RPS: Why do you think that is?

Peter Molyneux: I mean, I don’t think I have. Every time, at the moment the way it works is that every time I say anything it’s leapt on. You know, I said the thing about HoloLens and that all went into, ‘Oh, Peter said don’t overpromise,” and you know, I just feel that the press as it is at the moment on, that sort of press is just a place I’m no longer in. And it’s hugely sad for me, but you won’t see me at GDC, you won’t see me at E3. So you just won’t see me at those things. I just feel quite introverted these days, comparatively so very introverted.

RPS: You seem to be trying to blame the press for that rather than the press merely holding you to account–

Peter Molyneux: No, I’m not blaming the press at all, I’m not blaming the press at all. I was held to account. I didn’t announce that I was withdrawing myself, I just withdrew myself. Everybody said, ‘oh, you keep overpromising, you keep overpromising,’ and I said right, OK, fine. My answer to this– I have the sort of personality that finds it very, very difficult when faced with members of the press, and talking about my game, to be, not to get excited. I’ve tried to do that. I tried to do that at Microsoft and I had an army of PR people trying to suppress me but it’s very difficult in my personality. So my answer was a year ago, well, I’m going to stop. I’ll just quietly withdraw and that’s what I’ve done. And I just feel like doing it more, because if it means that people don’t hound me, and I have been hounded.

I mean, if you go back in time, and you look at all the press interviews, and you look at the Kickstarter campaign, there have been mistakes. And you can put that in the headline right now. But I am still dedicated and this team, especially the gameplay team, not the GUI team, and not the graphics team, is still dedicated to making Godus a great game. And it’s going to take another six months. And that is the absolute truth of the matter.

RPS: OK so we should probably–

Peter Molyneux: There have been many many times, many times in my career where I said things I shouldn’t have said about acorns and oak trees and dogs and god knows what else. But I promise you John, I only said them because at that time I truly believed them.

RPS: Do you think you wanted them to be true rather than believed they were true?

Peter Molyneux: I think a lot of times, especially a few years ago, I would say things almost as I thought things, and the team used to really get aggressive, that they would say, ‘Oh god Peter, this is the first time we know that we’re going to have this feature in the game.’ And then the other side of the equation, which is just as bad, is that I would tell the press and often show the press when they’ve only just been implemented without thought to the consequences of them making it into the final game. But this is what– Years ago, and over the years, I think I was one of the developers that showed the stuff that was being made as it was being made. Not like, a publisher, they were always into the shock and awe. Microsoft tried to get me to be like this, which is, Peter, wait until the game’s finished and then do press, but I always loved– and it was a passion and a love, sharing with the press, you know, what development was going on.

We had pretty much every journalist in the studio and looking round and meeting with us and that’s the way that that world used to work and now, that side of development has completely gone off, so now we’re developing The Trail and we’re not going to say anything, at all. Anything at all, until this game is released on Steam Early Access.

RPS: OK, can we just clarify one thing. A number of sites have reported this week that the Godus team has been hugely reduced, there’s very few people left working on it, but you’ve implied that the whole of 22cans is working on it. Where’s the truth in that?

Peter Molyneux: No, I didn’t say that.

RPS: Sorry, I misunderstood you then.

Peter Molyneux: Here’s the thing. When a developer, a programmer or an artist has been working on something for a long time, they often, especially younger people and most of the people who have left are younger people, they want to broaden their horizons. And that indeed, a few people did that. On the production side, there was Gemma, and Christine, and Matt, and they were super busy when we were releasing the Android version and the iOS version, but after we finished those the writing was on the wall and they looked around for other jobs. All of them except for Matt actually left the industry.

We have now recruited people to replace them and that’s a really brilliant thing for a studio. A studio needs to have an influx of new people, so we’ve just had an artist start from France, a brilliant artist start from France, I don’t know his name, I should know his name. We’re having Richard start on the, and he specialises in gameplay and combat and he’s starting on Monday, and we’re interviewing, we’re about to make another job offer to a producer guy, but I can’t tell you his name because he hasn’t handed in his notice yet. So this is the normal–

RPS: So how many of those people are working on Godus and how many are on The Trail roughly, do you know?

Peter Molyneux: So the people who aren’t working on Godus are the people who wouldn’t be busy on Godus most of the time. So at the moment, I’m just looking over them now. We’ve got Dave, Pavle, Konrad, Andy, Martin and Conor, and Michelle just stuck up her arms as well. [to Michelle] You’re not working on Godus.

And then Peter on the art side, and on the Trail we’ve got Sara, who’s a concept artist so there’s not much work for her to do on Godus, we’ve got Paul, who did all the sculpting stuff so there’s not much for him to do on Godus at the moment, Tony’s working on the Trail, Demetri and Tom, and then on the art side the new artist is learning Maya and we’ll have to see how he gets on. And Paul McLaughlin is working on Godus and he’s the head art. I think I’ve covered everyone that I can see.

RPS: OK, that’s great.

Peter Molyneux: Jack is working on Godus, he’s sitting next to me playing the story of Godus through at the moment.

RPS: Like I say, a lot of sites have reported that there are very few people left on Godus so it’s good that we can clarify that that’s not the case.

Peter Molyneux: I don’t think that’s very few people, is it?

RPS: No no no, I’m saying–

Peter Molyneux: John, why don’t you get, come down…

RPS: Peter, listen, listen, you’ve misunderstood. A number of sites have reported that very few people are left working on Godus. It’s good to have clarified that’s not the case.

Peter Molyneux: …Yeah. I’m passionate, I hope if you’ve got anything from this. I’m passionate about making a great game. You know, I’m doing work on Godus, well, I should be working on Godus, I should be playing through the story now but I’m talking to you. How long have we been talking?

RPS: An hour and fifteen minutes. I very much appreciate it. OK. One final thing then before we wrap up. It’s been three years for Bryan Henderson, why don’t you give him some of the money from the game?

Peter Molyneux: Well, because he needs to act as God of Gods.

RPS: Yeah, but he thought he was going to do that and…

Peter Molyneux: Because that is part of the deal. He needs to be God of Gods and we need to get the multiplayer in before God of Gods can–

RPS: Sure, but at this point don’t you think it would be a bit of a good faith thing to do since he’s been so badly screwed over?

Peter Molyneux: I think we’ll… We’ll, well, hmm. We’ll probably–

RPS: You told Pocket Gamer that you were putting money aside for him.

Peter Molyneux: –think of something to say sorry about and I’m, you know, maybe I’m, this is not the place to announce that.

RPS: No no, not at all, but you told Pocket Gamer that the revenue was being put aside for him that he would get when the multiplayer is fined.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah, but he needs to be God of Gods before that happens.

RPS: Yeah, but with one of your lead developers saying he doesn’t think that’s likely to happen–

Peter Molyneux: I’ve already explained that, John. If you ask Konrad now, he would say the complete opposite. The key thing is that we have to do this stupid, boring, shitty server stuff before doing it and now they’re literally once we’ve fixed the bugs in the story, that’s the next thing they’re working on and I hope and believe this date or not, I hope that by Easter we’re going to have that in there. And then it starts getting really interesting.

RPS: Then it’s combat, then it’s multiplayer after Easter, is what you’re saying.

Peter Molyneux: And then we need combat and then it’s multiplayer and then we’ve got the ingredients for God of Gods, because it’s combat which is used to judge the God of Gods. And stuff like that.

RPS: OK. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that you haven’t enjoyed this at all, but I appreciate how much time you’ve given to do it.

Peter Molyneux: Yeah. I love Godus. I love what we’re doing. I love what we’re doing. I wish I was smarter and I wish, everything that came out of my mouth that came to pass, and there’s no one in this industry John that hasn’t been more committed and more passionate about the industry and I hope, I hope you personally see that. I’m sure you’re going to write the article and it’s going to be tough on us and–

RPS: Well, I’m going to quote the interview. It’s not going to be, I can’t make it any better or worse than the things that you’ve said, so that should be fine.

Peter Molyneux: OK, yeah. OK. I wonder, yeah. Well, we’ll see. I’ll get back to work. Get an Apple phone so you can Find A Friend.

RPS: [laughs]


  1. Assaf says:

    Thank you for this good interview.

  2. HuddiBras says:

    “John, you’re getting emotional — No, really, you’re getting emotional — What, I’m not allowed to have a holiday? I could have gone to Amsterdam! Wasting time in Amsterdam is easy! – You’re really getting quite emotional, John – You have it in for me, right? You want to see me fail? — What, it’s not like accounting for VAT is easy, man! Budgets are hard! And if I just ask for what I need, no one will give it to me, so I need to always lowball things, over-promise that lowball and eventually hope that people can be tricked into giving me more than the lowball so that I can do what I originally intended to do, I wouldn’t call that *lying*, just creative usage of the inherent properties of truth – I think you’re getting *emotional* — Oh god I’m so incompentet, I’m a fraud, I— You’re out to get me, you’re collaborating with those others, and you all want me out of the industry, don’t you? Isn’t that your goal? You’re trying to tricks me. Trying to tricks me, John. But no. I won’t give it up. Godus is mine.

    It’s my precious.
    You can’tst have it, John, you can’tst tricks me, no, no, tricksy journalist”

    [Interview ended as Peter Molyneux hobbles away, muttering about life-like interactions with realistic AI modeled by actual xeno-biologists”

    That was a really, really strange read.

  3. AlienMind says:

    LOL, he’s assuming Godus is a creative game

  4. Laurentius says:

    This is probably the best thing i’ve read on RPS ever. Absolutly great thing to read. I don’t really have all my thoughts together on this but this interview is still great work. Bravo !

    • Laurentius says:

      OK I gathered my thoughts. This is the most humane thing I’ve ever read regarding video games. I’m not a backer of Godus so If I was I would probably think differently. For young people I think it doesn’t have this emotional impact. You know In the 90ties I know only four names, despite playing tons of video games an dbaying video games mags. These were: Peter Moulynex, Sid Meier and then later Caramck and Romero. It’s just reading this interview with this man, who did delivered great games and now after these years seeing things slipping away and crumbling and all these things he said and done. Yes, it’s the both real life story that speaks to me emotionally and probably the best story to go with video games, I don’t know I saw “Birdman” recently. This interview, and I’m really deeply moved by it, yes what a great a humane piece…

  5. Henke says:

    Hahaha. :D

    • Henke says:

      post fail, an no edit button to hide my shame. Anyway, wanted to highlight this gem: Peter Molyneux: “Let’s carry on going. Let’s make me more depressed”.

  6. Laini says:

    I’m surprised how many people seem to think this is acceptable.
    A lot of really good questions for sure and a lot that Godus backers would probably like to put to PM himself but you can ask hard hitting questions without being so hostile and rude.

    I don’t like the man but I sure as hell have a lot more respect for him now for not hanging up on you.

    • Pantalaimon says:

      I think it’s pretty hard to judge the atmosphere of the call in a transcript, they could have had ten minutes of preamble discussion which means launching into the interview like that is not so extreme. But I think if the point was to catch him off guard and avoid having a very coy and cutesy interview (like every PM interview ever), then it is an acceptable trade off.

      And it’s a conversation, there’s a million things we don’t get from a transcript that happen between people in a conversation. You can ask and say things when you’re talking to someone that don’t read as well in print.

      This would probably have been better served being a video interview, but alas we don’t often get those in gaming.

    • Philomelle says:

      There are numerous places in the interview where John attempts to defuse the situation and point out that he’s been asking something completely different from the answer he’s getting, only for Molyneux completely shut him down and go off on a ten-minute rant that rapidly jumps from conclusion to conclusion without the other person’s involvement, glaringly repainting John into a terrible abusive monster who is a part of the Illuminati conspiracy that is trying to ruin his life forever.

      An image that could have been easily avoided, just as much of the hostility in the conversation could have been avoided, if Molyneux simply stopped talking for three seconds and allowed John to put the conversation back where it belonged, not wherever Molyneux’s ten million assumptions brought him.

      If anything, I’m proud of John for not having dropped the phone. There is something very unsettling when someone takes your question and proceeds to have a conversation with himself about you, while you’re still standing in front of them.

      • Pantalaimon says:

        “There are numerous places in the interview where…”

        Except you imagined all of that in your head. That’s your personal interpretation and it’s pretty much entirely hyperbole, which is somewhat ironic.

        • Philomelle says:

          There are, on a quick browse, 22 times when John begins to say something but doesn’t get to finish it because Molyneux drones over him without listening.

          In fact, the first time it happens is on the fourth question.

          • Pantalaimon says:

            The droning or ranting part is your interpretation. He’s being asked questions and he’s speaking at length about them, which is his perrogative. Especially given that he has been put on the defensive since the first sentence.

          • Awesomeclaw says:

            At one point, towards the end of the interview, John even tries to complement PM’s community work, and PM responds by accusing John of trying to ‘open more cracks’.

          • Philomelle says:

            Except the part where he’s not speaking about them at all.

            John would say “But that’s not what I asked–” or “My original question was–” and Molyneux would keep on talking despite it being made very clear that he’s steadily moving his speech away from the question. When you intentionally talk over someone’s attempts to bring the conversation back to its original topic, that pretty much is droning them over.

          • Pantalaimon says:

            @Philomelle, putting yourself in his position, don’t you think it’s at least a little understandable why he’s responding like that? When someone asks you to justify yourself, your behaviour, your mindset, etc, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to give short and sweet glib answers. And if he does give practised answers, do we look more favourably on him? I don’t think so. Every interview he has ever done has been him giving soundbite answers, I think the thing you take away from this interview is that this is Molyneux being a human being giving emotionally driven answers when put in a tough position. You might take issue with what he’s saying but to fault him for putting himself out there is a bit harsh.

          • jrodman says:

            Goal posts: moved. How like the interview.

          • Philomelle says:

            He is not putting himself out there. He is manipulating the conversation to his convenience by droning over every single actual question and interrupting John whenever he tries to bring the conversation back on topic, essentially droning out every single matter of actual importance for the sake of focusing on how abused he is. The entire interview is nothing but huge collections of buzzwords, forced upon John up until he gets sick of it and starts interrupting Molyneux back to at least gain questions about Kickstarter.

            You are not going to succeed in making me sympathize with a notorious emotional manipulator. Even more so when you try to do so by pleading about how hard it is to be him, essentially turning yourself into an emotional manipulator as well.

            For that matter, you’re not going to succeed at that with a tactic as silly as completely shifting your goalposts from “Molyneux never interrupted John or manipulated the conversation in his favor.” to “But look how poor and misunderstood and emotional he is!”.

    • eggy toast says:

      If I talked you into loaning me your car keys and said I knew the errand would only take a few minutes, and months later your car was still in Uzbekistan, and all I had to say was a long winded story about how it wasn’t my fault, which contradicted things I had said in written emails to you, you would not say “oh well that’s a shame” youd call me names, and call the police. It’s the normal reaction, when an asshole steals from people, to be mad at that asshole.

  7. Yargh says:

    Wow, this was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Must have been quite distressing for both parties so kudos to them both for sticking this out to the end.

    The simple and brutal fact is that when you have a reputation built on history, people listen to and remember the actual words you put out there. Being held to account for those words is the natural result.

  8. Beanbee says:

    Investment isn’t dictated by realities of an industry, but what the investor wants to hear about what their return will be. Normally, that’s more-money-than-you-can-get-elsewhere. However, with Jickstarter it’s more-game-than-we’re-getting-right-now.

    So one of the major issues of being a game developer is you have to make what people are willing to fund you to make. Often that’s the cold hard business of giving the masses what you just sold them last year or another clone of something recently successful. You put together a team that’s basically done this all before. Get management that’ll stick to the rules and work the team milestone after milestone until it is done. Then repeat.

    Often developers would raise their voice against this. It limits creativity, artistic vision. A few would be bold enough to tell you the game envisioned, which I’m sure nobody would argue Peter was a figurehead of.

    Here is the bite. Having the road block to creativity removed does not guarantee any kind of success. Innovation is a tricky deal. Somewhere around 1 in 10 projects actually turn a profit. Yet still on average, the return on investment is around £3 for every £1 spent.

    Let’s look at that another way. If you put a total of £100 into 10 projects, you would probably get £300 back. However, only one of the 10 projects would have succeeded. Doing new things, even with boat tons of experience, is a risky endeavor. If it helps, Pete was probably twice as likely as a recent entrant to the industry to get it right. Still, the odds of innovation were still stack against his favor.

    So where does that leave us? Somewhere around 1 in 10 kickstarters that are not just a continuation of the same old thing will probably fail. The one that does work, will work incredibly well. I’d love to hold up FTL as an example of that, launching a new sub-genre at the least.

    To invest in innovative Kickstarters is to invest in the chance of seeing something new, not the certainty of delivery.

    Final word, if innovation was guarentee’d, we’d all be in jetpacks by now John.

    • Quirk says:

      Yes, this. Have you spent a chunk of time in start-ups, by any chance?

  9. Malfeas says:

    Very well done. Thank you, not only for not backing down, but also staying as polite and objective as you could. This is the kind of thing I want to read when I think the word “press”.

    • reptilianbrain says:

      This is as far as possible from objective and is far from polite – just needed to throw in some straight insults, threats and foul language.
      This is not journalism, this is a nobody trying to be somebody at the expense of the famed game designer. I am really sorry Mokybeux had to go through this interrogation. Everyone in the industry will now think twice before taking to this “journalist” and that is very good. Hopefully an end of career.

      • Sleepymatt says:

        Foul language? The only person swearing was Molyneux, who did so repeatedly, and even deigned to put the swear words in John’s mouth in some of his imagined John-thoughts. It seems at least one person fell for it.

        • reptilianbrain says:

          I did not say there was foul language, I meant “needed to” – in a sense to make the circle complete the interviewer could just use the language of the raging trolls he got his inspiration and energy from.

      • Jakkar says:

        Do us all the courtesy of understanding the background before you comment on the situation.

        • reptilianbrain says:

          Some attention hungry self-proclaimed writer goes on to verbally and emotionally assault the person who actually helped shape the gaming industry as we love it. Acts like it’s his chance to pin George W. Bush Jr. for war in Iraq while dealing with a game designer / entrepreneur dying to deliver an over-complicated video game.

          There is no justification besides “caring for consumers” that justifies this horrible attitude of people who pledge on Kickstarter and act like they are majority shareholders in an investment bank.

          That is the background and the foreground.

  10. No Excuse says:

    Really amazing interview, although very difficult to read.

    I know that John’s interview style was combative and hostile at times, and normally I would agreed with many of the other commenters that that is not a good way to interview or even OK in general terms. However it is clear that John chose this as his strategy and there is a place for it (look at paxman at his best/worst) and clearly it worked. So many people here have commented that they now feel sorry for PM – I think the very way John interview him exposed him as the ‘flawed human being’ he is, and I mean that in a sympathetic way.

    I’d hope more people in the game industry would be called into account like this on the very, very, rare occasion its necessary.

    Well done RPS, so glad I migrated to you guys after gamespy closed – great journalism. Also, I’ve transcribed before and I appreciate John must have knocked his pan in to get this out in full so quickly. Thanks big man.

  11. Sir_Eric says:

    Oh god, reading this hurts.

  12. Premium User Badge

    neffo says:

    That was an epic read, I feel sorry for John having to transcribe all of it. Properly good interview though, really meaty. It’s hard not to respect the fact that he didn’t hang up in the first 15 minutes. (Probably because there no PR rep in ear-shot.)

    • cqdemal says:

      Most likely. I work in PR and if I were to be present with a client in an interview with that opening question, I would have carried the client far, far away and nuked the site from orbit. Or something.

      • reptilianbrain says:

        +1000 I hope they never get to interview anyone. Clearly RPS took advantage of Molyneux and the fact they are not face to face.

        • April March says:

          That poor, helpless Molyneux being forced by RPS’ long range missile systems to interrupt about twenty of John’s questions and go on mad tangents about the evil press driving him out of the industry

        • Keymonk says:

          Given John’s track record, I doubt it’d have been any different in person.

  13. xcession says:

    Wow that’s just excruciating. Anyone watching me for the last 15mins reading that would have seen what awkwardness embodied looks like.

    It boils down to: Don’t make your Ideas man your Press man. Surely there’s at least a couple of age-old metaphors out there which cover this?

    The difficulty lies in having a larger than life character at the head of a company and telling that person they aren’t suitable to represent the company publicly.

  14. simrex says:

    This was painful to read. I now feel very sorry for Peter Molyneux. It needed to happen, I think, but this was almost too brutal :(

  15. eraserhead says:

    Wow, that was uncomfortable to read. I’d love to hear the audio recording of this. I think John was incredibly tough but still respectful and very focused. Peter Molyneux told a lot about himself between the lines. And he didn’t hang up.
    As a designer (for 20 years) I kind of have sympathies for Molyneux’s problems to correctly estimate time and budget (I do, too), still there’s a basic rule I stick to: Make your estimate and then double the time, because stuff always takes much longer and you know it. It’s an easy rule to learn.
    On a side note: the screenshots do look lovely.

  16. Babymech says:

    Hahaha, holy crap he speaks exactly like he does in the horse interview :D

  17. mashkeyboardgetusername says:

    Haven’t finished reading the whole thing, but the bit about “we had x money from kickstarter, so for 22 people at y salary that’s z months” jumped out at me. I can’t find the source for the life of me (grrr) but I’ve read that for startup businesses it’s not a bad idea to budget around three times each person’s salary to get the total cost of employing them (including facilities, equipment, software licences, any HR and accountancy you have, etc. etc.) Even if three times is overly pessimistic, the cost of running a company is a lot more than the combined salaries of its employees, and it’s pretty clear Peter doesn’t understand how to budget a company if he thinks you just add up the salaries.

    Or he’s fully aware of this and just bullshitting again. Take your pick.

    • DXN says:

      On that point at least, he does mention using his own money to start up the company, which might (or might not?) cover those costs.

    • mattlambertson says:

      He quotes a different salary figure on the Kotaku interview that just came out. That’s the one of the most glaringly obvious contradictions in this whole mess. I feel for the man because I have the same sort of problem of fudging facts and presenting ideas as reality, especially when I’m being confronted by someone, and he is right, he really needs to stop talking to the press, or at least be much more careful when he does.

  18. MrLoque says:

    You just need to watch any random interview to this man, to understand he’s a professional liar. I feel sorry for those who backed his projects.

  19. Monggerel says:

    I dunno. The man’s been a laughingstock since, like, the first Fable? And back then his studio still made good games.
    He’s a fucking idiot and gets off on dishonesty besides but I could not care less for having him thrown into the thresher. Like kicking a dead baby with the candy you’ve taken from them stuck to your feet. Or something.
    Easy targets and all that. Can you pull in Leviathan with a fishook etc.

  20. Baltech says:

    Took me a while but I finally finished this beast of an article. It made me cringe and, at times, physically uncomfortable. This piece will stand tall as one of the, if not the, best example of games journalism of 2015. Bravo I say!

    Also, credit where credit is due: Molyneux stuck to it though it couldn’t have been a very… let’s say relaxing experience.

  21. jingies says:

    The guy I feel sorry for is Jack, the chap who appears in the videos with Molyneux.

    Molyneux’s reputation is in tatters, but he will just be able to retire on past glories. Jack looks fairly young and I can’t help but think he’s going to be dragged down with Molyneux and never get another chance, as he’s part of the high profile face of the project. I doubt he’ll be able to retire on the proceeds of Godus.

  22. leQuack says:

    Brilliant interview John, emotions flying all over the place, but you kept the pressure on. Especially the parts when Peter tries to overwhelm you with gross generalizations, you kept on in a most civilized matter. Just brilliant.

    Especially since I kept on thinking about the video of Salt where you’re so childishly enthusiastic (which I think is a good thing when it comes to gaming in general) about your new boat. Keeping in line with the interview i’ll throw a (personal favorite) quote of yours here too: ‘Bye bye tiny boat, byeee’.

    Come to think of it, there’s a nice analogue with you leaving your childhood hero (if I can call him that) behind in the interview. Hmm

  23. Text_Fish says:

    Interesting and compelling interview. I don’t think John or PM came out of it particularly well to be honest, but I guess sometimes journalists have to get their hands dirty.

    I would argue though, that a “lie” can only be told about something that has already come to pass. If PM continually said “I’ve done this” rather than “I’m going to do this”, then perhaps he could be considered a pathological liar.

  24. Ilinx says:

    Holy wow, John. I’ve been reading RPS since pretty much its inception and this has to be a crowning jewel. That was a brutally tough, but remarkably fair and evenhanded interview, IMO. Fantastic journalism. It’s changed my mind considerably about PM – from dismissive scepticism to actually intrigued as to whether he can put this storm behind him and prove himself over again. Thanks very much for this.

  25. wyrm4701 says:

    The more of this I read, the more trouble I have believing this is supposed to be a grown man once awarded an Order of the British Empire. The subject of this interview is an embarrassment.

  26. Crea says:

    Far too personally hostile to the man. He failed to build the correct computer game, he did not murder anyone, and I think it’s very much open to debate whether or not there was any *deliberate* bad behaviour on his part, albeit oodles of shit project management and overpromising.

    I find the self-righteous fury of people surrounding this man to be far more questionable than anything he did.

    • oggnogg says:

      Well, if it serves to be a warning to future Kickstarter campaigners then Peter will have paid a price for the better of the whole industry. And he even deserved most of it.

      • Monggerel says:

        Deserve got nothing to do with it though, does it?
        It’s just a matter of spitting at failure when the rare opportunity presents itself. It’s not like you can hold Activision or EA or anyone big enough to account.

        • k.t says:

          That’s what bugs me most about this situation. At least Molyneux cares enough to take part in an interview like this. There are so many people behind the scenes who contribute much less and take much more, and they get away with it because they genuinely don’t give a shit.

          • BooleanBob says:

            This is what makes me feel uncomfortable too. It feels like Molyneux is the biggest small man we can find to pin to the mast, and by God we’re going to do it while we have the chance because the ubercorps – even if their crimes are greater – are just too smart to agree to interviews and roll out The Silence when they do something nefarious.

            On the other hand, if Molyneux has done something for which he can be pinned to the mast (hint: he has) then none of the above is a reason not to. You don’t let a hitman off the hook because the mob bosses cover their asses too well.

    • Babymech says:

      No, he didn’t murder anyone, he just lied to get people to give him money. That’s why the interview is about his lying, not his murdering anyone. You are right about him not murdering anyone, and why are you even uttering such an inane statement in the first place? John obviously didn’t treat him like murderer.

    • eggy toast says:

      He made things up out of thin air, to bilk members of the public into giving him money.

      He is a scam artist, and deserves no politeness to edge around that. He deserves a class action suit, but he certainly doesn’t deserve pity

  27. qwurp says:

    Well I appreciate hard-hitting questions, this “interview” was beyond combative and seemed like every single question was geared towards getting PM to say something that would make a headline. It’s one of the most baiting interviews I’ve ever read and RPS taking the aggressive approach to make it all more emotional would only increase the chances that someone like PM would snap and say something he wouldn’t have said otherwise.

    For despising PM for always using absolutes to describe his ideas or games, RPS sure was asking for him to respond to every single question as an absolute. I have no love for PM, but I certainly have less love for RPS.

  28. lightweaver says:

    I think among all the justified criticism, Peter does deserve some credit for going through with the interview.
    It can’t have been easy to have so many inconvenient truths laid bare in front of him like that.
    He could have easily just quit the whole thing.

    At least he seems to care about some things, I guess…?

  29. Haplo says:

    Holy crap. I read this entire article with the same sort of discomfort I get watching my parents argue, tempered purely by the sheer ‘holy crap’ of it all. That opening had me wondering if I’d missed a bit of log somewhere.

  30. Elusiv3Pastry says:

    Bravo! BRAVO!!!

    *standing ovation*

  31. Christo4 says:

    John, you are now my favorite journalist, for actually defending consumers against such practices as baiting with promises just to get their money.

  32. DrollRemark says:

    This should be taught in Journalism classes. Never mind that it’s “only video games”, this is how you hold a public figure to account. Brutal, necessary stuff.

    Peter Molyneux: I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more.

    RPS: Why do you think that is?

  33. corvak says:

    If the press is going to accuse developers of lying in the first question of an interview, I don’t think Molyneux is going to be the only dev refusing to speak directly to press from here on in.

    “Asking the hard questions” is simply going to turn into the sea of ‘no comment’ we see in the political world, or “Not interested, talk to our PR department”. Developers are not politicians. Theres no feeling of duty or service to the public that gives them reason to cooperate with press trying to tar and feather them.

    Frankly, I feel like the internet is just jumping down Molyneux’s throat because he’s low hanging, and most of them probably aren’t even Godus backers (For the record, I didn’t back it either). I think he’s got issues delivering on his promises, but I believe him when he says he never intentionally lied about his games. I think he fully and completely intends to produce what he claims when he is hyping his games.

    Internet, we’ve got a serious public shaming problem, and this is the internet equivalent of slowing down on a highway to gawk at an accident.

    • Silith321 says:

      That’s about what I was thinking. A couple of weeks back whenever it came to Kickstarter you would droves of people explaining endlessly that “Kickstarter is not an investment”, and “You don’t buy the game” and that you should look carefully before kickstarting anything. There are a lot of failed Kickstarter projects, some more spectacular than others (does anybody remember Yogsventure or whatever that was called?), and there will be more as time goes on.
      As someone who is not involved in the Godus Kickstarter whatsoever and just watching from the outside, I fail to see the difference between this one and other failed projects that warrants this kind of … special attention Peter Molyneux is getting. I don’t mean to say that he doesn’t deserve it, because the Curiosity affair and the treatment of the contest winner was really, really bad. But this doesn’t make PM a liar nor does the interview really focus on this.

      Other than that, the interview was really painful to read.

      • April March says:

        There is a big difference between saying “Kickstarter is just an investment, so you shouldn’t treat it as a store and shouldn’t give any amount of money you wouldn’t mind losing” and “people who make Kickstarter projects are not under any obligation whatsoever to deliver anything at all”.

        • Silith321 says:

          “People who make Kickstarter projects are under obligation to deliver” and “are you are pathological liar” are very, very different things.
          Of course he has to fulfil his legal obligations or risk getting sued, I don’t think that anybody would disagree with you there. One does not have to resort to personal attacks to make this point, though, and that’s what I have a problem with. I don’t think other people guilty of failed Kickstarter projects were exposed to such a degree of Internet rage and pitchforks even though this situation really isn’t that different. It wasn’t even a really big Kickstarter compared to others. He’s also still in business so there’s still a chance something might turn up, although with the recent development that could change I guess. Will his publisher continue to support him?
          I think I’m mostly surprised about this interview. I didn’t expect something like that from RPS. Eurogamer and Kotaku (Nathan!) wrote much more level-headed – and frankly, more informative – pieces about this whole affair.

  34. Syt says:

    An … interesting interview to say the least. Ten, fifteen years ago I bought into the romantic idea that it would be so much better if publishers would step back and give developers all the creative freedom they need to realize their awesome visions.

    In the meantime, Molyneux and – to some degree Tim Schafer – show that you can be a good, sometimes brilliant developer but still benefit from a publisher that keeps you grounded and holds you directly accountable for the final product.

  35. Jakkar says:


    You’ve done what I’ve been waiting for since Fable on the original Xbox – for someone to finally, decisively place this lying, slimy little sociopath in his place. And you did so marvellously.

    Congratulations, and thank you.

  36. Greedy says:

    Fantastic interview and thank you for not shying away of a uncomfortable conversation. We don’t see this very often happening in media, probably never.

    I have a lot of respect for Peter and it seems he is stuck in his own vicious cycle of creating, passion and sheer determination to promise whatever he can to get it through. The cost is the backers in this case. Hope this has a better ending as it looks right now.

  37. Bishop149 says:

    “Do you not see the difference between being late for a publisher and being late for half a million pounds that gamers gave you?”

    I think that was the question that cut to the nub of it.
    Also no publisher would have tolerated quite THIS degree of late.

  38. Radiant says:

    Didn’t make him cry like the last one.
    So I want a do over Walker.

  39. Philomelle says:

    There is something incredibly unsettling when someone takes your question and proceeds to have a conversation with himself about you, then whatever conspiracy he imagines you to be a part of, while you’re still trying to talk to him. I’m very sorry that you had to experience that, John.

    A lot of this sounds like Molyneux doesn’t really care about making games. He only wants to live the celebrity life that he lived while he was back in Bullfrog, to be a free-thinking teenage artist who can create great things just by waving his hands, and he doesn’t really care who he’s going to bring under while he’s trying to do that. He’s so desperate to get that life that he doesn’t even consider to sit down, consider and find a way to work toward it.

    It’s like watching a washed out celebrity in the middle of a gigantic middle age crisis.

  40. Beernut says:

    Wow, welcome to Hardball…
    Congratulations to John for this interview. And to Peter, for trying to remain composed and succeeding occasionally. With the circumstances being what they are, there was no way this could have been pleasant. for him.

  41. darkdragyn says:

    Honestly, i don’t know much about this topic or this game so perhaps i’m not as emotionally invested but i thought this interview was immature and childish. It sounds like Molyneux has been a jerk about the whole thing but i’m not sure anything was accomplished by A) starting the interview with such an adversarial question and B) hanging on all the lies. Again, I don’t know all the details but it doesn’t strike me that Molyneux lied on purpose (at least at some points). If you say you’re going to be somewhere at 5pm but traffic or weather or whatever causes you to be late and arrive at 6pm does that make you a liar? No, it just means that crap happens sometimes. This doesn’t justify everything that he did but come on, we all know crap happens. Backing something on Kickstarter is a risk, just like gambling. In a perfect world there would be guarantees but Kickstarter is what it is and there are no guarantees. If you backed a game that fizzles out or is delayed then that’s the risk you took. Much like in life and being a grown, mature adult: there are no guarantees. If you don’t like it then put your money towards something else. As justified as all the angst may have been in the article it accomplished nothing except making the interviewer come off as petty. I think everyone had already formed an opinion on Molyneux before reading this. It would have been great to get Molyneux’s answers without feeling like he needed to defend himself against such an unprofessionalism, immature barrage. There are better ways to get a point across without being totally disrespectful.

    • Babymech says:

      If you say you’re coming in at 6 pm, and you come in at 9 pm three years late, one has to entertain the idea that you’re lying or insane or both.

    • Josh W says:

      It’s tricky, because the structure of the interview seems relatively obvious:

      Are you a pathological liar? – To put Pete on the defensive, but also warn him about the interview that was coming up.

      The a series of questions on specific “lies”:

      Using a publisher.

      Bryan Henderson’s life changing experience.

      Development time predictions.


      Student Forums.

      Reductions of Staff.

      Money for Bryan Henderson.

      And a load of follow up stuff based on him being imprecise and overestimating stuff, particularly stuff he may have over-estimated or handwaved during that specific interview. Some of that stuff he vindicated himself on, other stuff he’s probably going to need to sort out.

      I think the focus on lies was not necessarily the only way to deal with those topics, those could have been dealt with in different ways, and it was harsh, but still, he is hitting near to one of Peter Molyneux’s core weaknesses when making games, and I can see the logic in just going straight for it rather than giving him a sense of false security.

  42. jalf says:

    As much as PM has quite a lot of questions to answer, and as much as he’s fully earned his reputation for overpromising and underdelivering, the stuff about him “lying” just feels like sensationalist drivel.

    “Lying” isn’t saying what you believe to be true, and then later (1) changing your mind, or (2) having something else happen.

    Saying “this game will take 9 month to develop” is only a lie if you know this to be untrue *when you say it*.
    It doesn’t retroactively become a lie 3 years later because he knows better *now*. If you, John, have any information indicating that he knew better *at the time*, then sure, accusing him of lying would make sense. But that information isn’t included in this interview.

    Him forgetting about the guy whose life he was supposed to change is lousy and sloppy and incompetent, but it’s not “lying”. Unless, of course, you have reason to believe that at the time he *promised* to change the guy’s life, he had no intention of actually doing it.

    Saying that he should be better at estimating development time and costs is fair. Accusing him of intentionally lying about either is not, again unless you actually have reason to believe that he *did* know better.

    Really, the interview started out good. Seeing someone ask all the tough questions is great. Bridging the gap between the fairytale world PM seems to inhabit mentally and the real world is great.

    But it seemed to degenerate into you repeatedly accusing him of lying without actually supplying any evidence whatsoever. Which is pretty trashy journalism.

    The different standard he is held to is interesting too. How many kickstarter projects have been delayed? Virtually all of them. When any other KS project is delayed, RPS goes “well, that’s the reality of game development, everyone should remember that backing a kickstarter is different than buying a finished game, and hopefully it’ll be released soon”.

    When PM does it, you cry bloody murder.

    That’s… weird. And it kind of poisons the rest of the interview.

    I don’t know if it is disingenuous or simply a lack of understanding when you say you don’t see how it is possible for the PC game (which doesn’t have a publisher) to depend on technology supplied by the (mobile) publisher, so that the PC version suffers when the publisher suddenly pulls that technology.
    It would be relevant to ask a lot of questions about that, sure. Primarily, “why did they depend on a technology with no assurance that it would be maintained and supported as long as they needed it?”

    But pretending that he is once again lying when he says that the PC version of the game depended on this technology despite not having a publisher is, again, just bullshit.

    It looks like what they tried to do was to use the mobile publisher’s resources to bootstrap and aid in development of the PC version, without signing away any rights to the PC version. That’s clever. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?

    Sure, they clearly failed to do their due diligence in that they allowed themselves to depend on technology that the publisher suddenly decided to pull the plug on. And the deserve criticism for that. But trying to catch him out in a lie for *that*?

    The interview initially seemed like taking PM to task for all his failings and for overpromising and for screwing up in a lot of ways.

    It kind of degenerated into John hopping around pointing and simply shouting “LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE” repeatedly.

    • Ilinx says:

      But that means over the course of the interview the initial question was answered for you, surely? (That is not intended to be read as condescending and I hope it doesn’t come across that way). Having heard PM’s response to the more uncomfortable and contradictory facts about Godus’ reality, I personally came away far more convinced that PM does NOT deliberately set out to deceive with the things he’s said in interviews, kickstater vids, etc. But that’s kind of what I was thinking before I read this through.

      • jalf says:

        But that means over the course of the interview the initial question was answered for you, surely

        Perhaps. To be honest, I kind of liked the initial question. It set an interesting tone for the interview, and it knocked him off balance.

        It’s more the countless subsequent instances of flat out calling PM a liar, not asking if he’s a pathological liar, just stating as fact that he is a liar. Those bothered me, because the interview gave me no reason to believe that he is a liar.

        The interview showed me a whole lot of well-documented cases of him being wrong, of him perhaps being incompetent, perhaps not having done his homework, of cases where he probably should have known better. But I saw zero instances of the interview actually uncovering an actual lie.

        • Ilinx says:

          I think we may be broadly in agreement then.

          I do wonder if transcribed text is not a great way to perceive the nuances of the conversation. I assume that had it really been as combative as it might be reasonably interpreted, PM would have ended the interview. The way I read it, however, John is presenting facts, at times having to do so over the top of PM’s flow, to which PM then explains.

          For the most part those questions are answered, though whether they are perceived as bald-faced lies or just inaccuracies is being interpreted very differently by lots of commenters on here and that itself may sway a lot of opinions of the tone of questioning. However, I didn’t feel that anything John said, or the way he said it, was unreasonable given the events building up to this point. And we got a valuable, albeit painful, insight to PM’s character. I’m not a particular PM fan and certainly didn’t back Godus, but I really do hope he can turn it around from here.

    • Babymech says:

      He lies in the interview. Peter Molyneux actually lies in this actual interview. I don’t care what you believe good journalistic etiquette requires here, you can’t pretend that John is making up the part about Molyneux lying. It’s right in the text. Right there in fron of you.

      If he’s not allowed to point that out or ask about it, what should his interview be about? How much the Trail is going to end famine?

      • jalf says:

        He lies in the interview. Peter Molyneux actually lies in this actual interview.

        Where? He says things that are incorrect in the interview (like when an employee started working for him). Where in the interview did he get caught in a lie?

        • Sleepy Will says:

          RPS: Why did it take my writing an article about the fact these things don’t exist for you to get round to start making them?

          Peter Molyneux: I’ll tell you why, John. Because we’re so fucking busy trying to make this game a great game. Everybody here, every single person here is doing something on the game, with the exception of Michelle, and even Michelle who is the office administrator is now acting as a producer to help out. And someone called Peter Murphy who is the finance director. Everyone else is programming, doing art, coding, doing concept drawings, testing, and there isn’t, there’s not, we’re not a big enough company to have someone who looks after the pledges.


          RPS: OK, can we just clarify one thing. A number of sites have reported this week that the Godus team has been hugely reduced, there’s very few people left working on it, but you’ve implied that the whole of 22cans is working on it. Where’s the truth in that?

          Peter Molyneux: No, I didn’t say that.

          • Sleepy Will says:


            RPS: Sorry, I misunderstood you then.

            Peter Molyneux: Here’s the thing. When a developer, a programmer or an artist has been working on something for a long time, they often, especially younger people and most of the people who have left are younger people, they want to broaden their horizons. And that indeed, a few people did that. On the production side, there was Gemma, and Christine, and Matt, and they were super busy when we were releasing the Android version and the iOS version, but after we finished those the writing was on the wall and they looked around for other jobs. All of them except for Matt actually left the industry.

            We have now recruited people to replace them and that’s a really brilliant thing for a studio. A studio needs to have an influx of new people, so we’ve just had an artist start from France, a brilliant artist start from France, I don’t know his name, I should know his name. We’re having Richard start on the, and he specialises in gameplay and combat and he’s starting on Monday, and we’re interviewing, we’re about to make another job offer to a producer guy, but I can’t tell you his name because he hasn’t handed in his notice yet. So this is the normal–

            RPS: So how many of those people are working on Godus and how many are on The Trail roughly, do you know?

            Peter Molyneux: So the people who aren’t working on Godus are the people who wouldn’t be busy on Godus most of the time. So at the moment, I’m just looking over them now. We’ve got Dave, Pavle, Konrad, Andy, Martin and Conor, and Michelle just stuck up her arms as well. [to Michelle] You’re not working on Godus.

            And then Peter on the art side, and on the Trail we’ve got Sara, who’s a concept artist so there’s not much work for her to do on Godus, we’ve got Paul, who did all the sculpting stuff so there’s not much for him to do on Godus at the moment, Tony’s working on the Trail, Demetri and Tom, and then on the art side the new artist is learning Maya and we’ll have to see how he gets on. And Paul McLaughlin is working on Godus and he’s the head art. I think I’ve covered everyone that I can see.


            So what was the lie, well, when it suits him, everyone is working hard on Godus, every single person is working ha on the game [sic], yet when directly asked to clarify how many people are working on the game, he makes it very clear that a huge proportion of his tiny indie studio [sic] who don’t have enough staff to have a community manager are working on an entirely different game.

            When he said every single person is working on the game, he lied, and he did so in an attempt to grab sympathy, and reassure backers that the game was being made, the entire studio was working flat out on the game and that it is unreasonable to expect them to work harder (shhhhh, lets not tell them about the half of the studio making our next game shhhhh)

  43. alphagator says:

    John, the start of this interview was unprofessional. I appreciate that Molyneux has repeatedly broken promises but that’s not how an interview is done because it’s unhelpful.

    You bullied him, cut him off, and called him names throughout the interview. You sound like Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck, insulting someone just to show off how big a man you are. It comes across as cruel. You come across as the boy who is just THRILLED to pull the limbs off a fly. Hold him accountable, sure, call out his internal inconsistency, but draw a line. Do not make things personal.

    Sorry to see the mob you’ve fomented supporting your uncivil and unprofessional attitude. I come to RPS because I’m an actual grown man from a news journalism background, and this is the most civil, grown-up reporting on the subject of gaming I know of. This interview makes me question that and that makes me sad because where the hell else is an adult to go?

    • Laini says:

      Hear hear!

      • jalf says:

        It’s not the start of the interview that bothers me. I can see the point (both in making it interesting reading, and to kind of provoke and shock the interviewee) of that.

        It’s more the rest of the interview that bothers me. The stubborn belief that “being wrong”, or “being bad at something” is the same as “lying”, the accusations of lying with no evidence. And so frequently cutting off PM’s responses.

        And it’s frankly dishonest to say “I’ve done nothing but quote back things you’ve said and done.”
        No, what you’ve done is quote back things he’s said and done, and claimed them to be willful intentional lies.

        There is kind of a significant difference between “X months ago, in an interview with Y, you said this”, and “X months ago, in an interview with Y, you said this, WHICH YOU KNEW AT THE TIME TO BE UNTRUE, DIDN’T YOU? IT WAS A LIE. WE KNOW IT WAS A LIE. SHOULDN’T YOU STOP LYING ABOUT EVERYTHING PETER?”

        The latter is not “nothing but quoting back things you’ve said and done”.

    • Monggerel says:

      In fairness John usually has all the subtley of a sledgehammer anyway so this is hardly out of the ordinary. It’s just that usually he has more… appreciable objectives, I suppose.

    • Greedy says:

      I don’t think John was insulting. Yeah he was challenging and at times maybe too emotional, bu that’s how conversations sometimes go.

      Where was he insulting?

      • Silith321 says:

        I think that’s kind of the point when he said that it was “unprofessional”.

    • derbefrier says:

      Yeah even though Peter needed to be called out I can’t help but think John should have knocked that chip off his shoulder before conducting this interview. The guy is not some monster he deserves a little dignity and basic respect. He only made a bad game that’s hardly a good reason to dehumanize him so much.

      • Awesomeclaw says:

        He hasn’t just ‘made a bad video game’. He’s taken the actual real life money of actual real life people, in exchange for promises (both of a video game within X months, and of various pledge rewards). He’s then gone back on practically all of the promises and missed every deadline he’s set himself.

        I actually think PM has had a pretty big hand in some great and extremely influential games, but when it comes to management and production he has no idea what he’s doing.

        • derbefrier says:

          Regardless of your perspective on this the point still stands. If you wanna act like a frothing beast out for blood don’t let me stop you but at least have the courage to admit who the real monsters are here. It honestly diheartens me to see so many take pleasure in anothers pain and despair. I mean were are talking about in most peoples cases what 30 bucks of wasted money? Hardly an offense that requires a lynching mob.

      • DXN says:

        I agree that the interview was spicy to say the least, but I don’t think it’s fair to say he was treated like a monster. He was treated like someone who has been responsible for and colossally dropped the ball on many large, expensive projects that, when they fail — besides hurting the consumers who are taken in by his passion — also hurt the developers and the industry.

        It sounds like the people at 22cans (and even his family) are being slavedriven because of the position he’s put them in through his terrible management, and it can’t be great for their careers to be associated with such a trainwreck. He gets to be a VIP (albeit one apparently consumed with work) on the back of people whose livelihoods he’s fucking with apparently without even realising it. Probably there are also various other people dealing with the company who get screwed over by this kind of thing one way or another. These kind of broken promises chip away at the usefulness of Kickstarter and crowdfunding in general, too.

        And yet, on and on, this man is handed the reins and the cashbags. I think that’s something that deserves a robust grilling, and I don’t think the readers or even Peter himself are really helped by softballing him yet again. It’s not just a case of a project being delayed, its yet another in a long pattern of shitty, destructive behaviour by Molyneux.

    • Synesthesia says:

      +1 for the Truth.

    • cthulhie says:

      *This* nicely summarizes my problem with the interview. It really did read like a Sean Hannity piece, and it made me kind of sick to my stomach that it came from RPS. And while there’s a significant difference between bullying the little guy and bullying the big guy, I’m keen to support neither. I hate that I’m feeling like this is the article that has me thinking, “Well, I think we’re done here.”

    • Crea says:

      Absolutely spot on. It was needlessly aggressive, a hatchet job.

    • Gnoupi says:

      I’d rather agree with that. It was difficult to read and uncomfortable.
      It felt very personal and angry instead of factual. Actually gives Molyneux more respect from me.

      Maybe we can call him a pathological liar, but all in all, I think it’s a frustrated man who still dares to dream and try to make those dream ideas come true. We can call him a liar, but the truth is, he REALLY wanted those games to turn out the way he pictured them, and every time he had to make up excuses and whine to publishers to get more time, because what he had in mind was not realistic in the given budget or time frame.

      He might have 30 years of industry experience, but truth is, he never had any experience in realistic game concepts. That’s not the guy who could design a CoD game. All I see is a guy who has visions of games, but can never manage to have the technology, the budget or the time to see them realized.

      Now I’m not saying it’s not an issue, because in the end what matters is what is delivered. But I think we should just take him for what he is, and just take his “wonderful ideas” with a pinch of salt, expecting that anyway, they are not going to be realistic.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Agreed. It reads very much like an amateur or student journalist playing to what he knows is an emotional and enraged mob. It’s very much in the O’Reilly/Hannity vein of deliberately insulting your subject to score easy points with your audience.

      PM deserves to have his feet held to the fire. Quality journalism does it without resorting to stunts.

      I’ve always thought while RPS does the “Wot I Think…” generally pretty well, their standard journalism was their weakest point. This interview just reinforces that evaluation.

      • Jakkar says:

        This is a special situation. If you understand the background in full, dating back a decade and more, the Bullfrog/Lionhead/Molyneux connection is a grand farce with serious consequences for the genres involved and for gamers in general, not just one mad developer or a band of crusty old Bullfrog-game veterans.

        It asked for special measures, and… Wow. John provided them, in a way I’ve never seen before. We are very lucky to have a writer in such a prominent position who is willing to push that hard. If he had applied himself to political journalism with the same fervour, I’d worry that he might be in danger now. Lucky it’s just a game, eh?

    • Cloudiest Nights says:

      Agreed! John came across so incredibly aggressive with what feels like an agenda ahead of time. By being more civil, John would have probably had a much more informative interview that didn’t get Peter so worked up. I feel bad for the guy. I really want him to try to succeed at Godus now, and want to purchase just out of feeling sorry for Peter, which is weird even though it’s years late.

    • Klingsor says:

      Exactly my feelings. I really like RPS but the end result of that interview is that I lost some trust in RPS and PM gained some respect. I feel a bit sorry for him….wouldn’t give him my money though

  44. Premium User Badge

    Ridiculous Human says:

    John’s questions might seem harsh if there wasn’t a week of direct context, and *years* of indirect context, leading to that first question. Sometimes you have to knock someone off balance to get through the rehearsed apologies and handwaving.

    • DrollRemark says:

      Exactly this. Unsettle them quickly and you can hope to cut through the prepared statements.

  45. arlib says:

    I´m from Brazil and worked as a journalist for 10 years. I´ve been following this site since 1873 and I think the work you guys do here is so good that it inspired me to have my own webpage where I write about games. Rarely do we see such a great interview – in portuguese or english. Incredibly frank, to the point and not afraid to make Mr. Molyneux answer the very same questions that we, as players, wanted to ask. Mr. John Walker, I salute you!
    (And I apologize, by the way, for any grammatical that may exist in my post)

  46. DarioL says:

    I feel sorry for the man. He’s been overhyping stuff all his life, trying to backup his vision with lies rather than facts. I think he really need a break from all this pressure. And need to stop making games, is simply too late for him to learn to deliver.

  47. genyarikado says:

    This may actually be the worst interview I have ever read. Not one shred of professionalism, logic, or even intelligence. Almost every question is an attack based primarily on opinion. John believes that industry “rules change when it’s the players’ money being messed with”, but our money is always being messed with, and yet this is only one of very few interviews I’ve read with a developer that is composed entirely out of spite.

    I can’t help but feel as though John would come at this entirely differently if almost any other developer had been involved in this situation. I hope developers boycott this website from here on, and let it go the way of Joystiq.

    • DarioL says:

      yeah the pressure was quite harsh. Seemed more like a political debate than a game-developing themed one.

  48. Zephro says:

    I think John’s journalism was excellent, perhaps a British thing where we are used to Paxman. But the point of journalism is to hold people to account, so being somewhat combatative and interrogative is kind of the point.

    Anyway WTF is Polargy? All I could find was a data centre heating solutions company…. for server racks but it’s still not relevant. The Server thing does sound like total toss, probably a bunch of gameplay programmers just assuming they could do server coding with little work.

  49. MaVmAn says:

    This is an incredible interview, according to what I read Peter Molyneux seems to be a true mythomaniac with certainly a touch of psychopathy. I would not like to work with him.

    • wyrm4701 says:

      I’m feeling pretty bad for Michelle.

      • Bostec says:

        “I’m coming for you Michelle, yes you Michelle, i’m coming for you with my LIES!!!!”

        • April March says:

          I heard it’s all Michelle’s fault. Her with her evil hand raising ways.

  50. tkjgmz says:

    A very tough and uncomfortable read.

    Also, does RPS run a transcribing sweatshop somewhere?