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. notenome says:

    Wow, fantastic interview John.

    Here’s the thing, I really feel bad for Molyneux in this interview because his behavior, during the interview, acts as confirmation of him really having a condition. Molyneux actually diagnoses himself during the interview, when he talks about his desire to please. That’s what most pathological liars (the term being used here) do: they are so very afraid to disappoint that they will say anything to get a positive reaction, without giving thought to their words or actions.

    Remember the Joker in the Dark Knight, when he sais ‘do I really look like a guy with a plan? I just do things.’ That’s Molyneux. He just wants to get a positive reaction, and I truly believe there is no ill will in his behavior. I hope he seeks treatment for it, as his career has obviously suffered tremendously from his condition.

    As for Mr. Walker, bra-vo. That was a really spectacular piece of journalism. Tremendous, tremendous.

    • YeGoblynQueenne says:

      Really? That’s what you think journalism is? Calling up people and insulting them down the phone? That’s called trolling, or bullying, not journalism.

  2. Dice_Destroy says:

    “Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?”

    Damn, you went straight for his throat. He needed a brutally forward interview like this, great job!

  3. Hunchback says:

    I am aware that since the time i started reading this and now, there’s been precisely 100 comments more posted, up to 352. By the time i am done writing it, there’ll probably be 10-20 more. I am pretty sure no one will ever read this comment, and it doesn’t really matter, but still i had to say what i felt about all this:

    This has got to be The Best interview in gaming i’ve ever read. Best, in terms of quality, but also the saddest and worst in terms of content. It’s so sad, for everyone involved in all this. It’s sad for Molyneux, because he seems to be REALLY struggling with this. I have no idea what’s wrong with his stuff – might be lack of skill at project lead, might be that he went for crowd funding, might be a bad dev team… Don’t know, but i feel he’s trying to do this and it’s just not working and now, with all his reputation/notoriety, people are tearing him to pieces. It’s sad, because no matter what happens now with Godus, it will NEVER work, never sell enough, there just isn’t a game that could possibly erase all that drama, hype and anti-climax that has been surrounding Godos and Molyneux for so long now. I really believe he should retire now, the damage is too high. People will never trust him again, publishers will never trust him again…

    It’s also sad for all the people who work there, at 22cans – They’ve followed this mythical figure, and it probably won’t be all that great on a CV.

    And it’s sad for all of us, and especially those who payed.

    Aaaand people came in my shop, so i can’t write anymore.

    Great work and… don’t know what to say

    • Wytefang says:

      It fails to be the “best interview” simply because the writer doesn’t understand that KS does not guarantee a product from those who throw their money at it. No guarantee you’ll get anything at all. In that regard, failed interview. Sorry.

      • MentatYP says:

        Does not in the least bit change the fact that Molyneux once again over-promised and is looking on track to NOT deliver, and above that is firmly establishing himself as a serial liar, which is the whole point of the interview. Maybe hold a grown man responsible for his words and lack of follow-through on said words instead of vilifying the interviewer on a technicality, hmm?

      • Alegis says:

        link to

        Is a creator legally obligated to fulfill the promises of their project?

        Yes. Kickstarter’s Terms of Use require creators to fulfill all rewards of their project or refund any backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill. (This is what creators see before they launch.) We crafted these terms to create a legal requirement for creators to follow through on their projects, and to give backers a recourse if they don’t. We hope that backers will consider using this provision only in cases where they feel that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill.

  4. tiedtiger says:

    Anyone else remember the days when both developers and press liked to be optimists?

    • playfuldreamer says:

      I remember the days when both developers and press used to be responsible.

  5. Chirez says:

    That was brutal.
    I found it hard to read, I can only imagine how hard it was to do.
    I’m impressed by John’s tenacity.

    PM genuinely believes you can build things with nothing but good faith and hope. I wonder how he thinks other developers do things, since at least some of them end up actually making playable products.

  6. Wytefang says:

    Some fair questions raised but clearly this writer doesn’t understand how Kickstarter works – it’s NO, NONE, ZERO, NADA guarantee that you’ll get ANYTHING for the money you put in. No guarantee at all.

    So all the badgering about this KS campaign was utterly pointless and off-base. Kickstarter is very clear about the fact that you’re supporting what could very easily be something ephemeral, in the end.

    So maybe it’s time to lay-off a bit on Peter in that regard. Hmmm??

    • Xantonze says:

      Hence the “art book” pledge silly question. As if anybody really pays 200 dollars for an artbook, rather than for supporting the project. Cheap as the “hotel” question..

    • Philomelle says:

      I’m not sure if we’re using the same Kickstarter – I’ve only backed a 100 projects so far, so I’m pretty small fry – but on the website I know, terms of service very clearly state that you are legally obligated to deliver the pledge rewards on the estimated delivery date. After that, you are either obligated to refund anyone who asks for it, or you can expect to get sued for damaged.

      That’s basically what John is badgering him about. He wants Molyneux to realize that he’s currently open to a huge class action lawsuit.

  7. MentatYP says:

    It is now clear that Molyneux has some serious issues with accountability and the true meaning of honesty. He truly believes that he can say and claim anything he wants as long as he truly, honestly believes it.

    What. A. Load. Yes, Peter, you CAN lie without meaning to, and you are the poster child for repeat offenders in this area.

    Absolute disaster for somebody so clueless to be in charge of a project, especially one that answers to thousands of people. There are tons of people out there who are pie-in-the-sky type visionaries, but they don’t go bilking people out of hundreds of thousands of pounds in the process without being called criminals.

    • jalf says:

      Really? I think our definition of “lying” differs.

      If you *think* that what you say is true, then I can’t in good conscience call it a lie.
      Did you lie in school when the teacher asked a question and you got the answer wrong?

      Do you lie when your girlfriend asks you if there’s any more milk in the fridge, and you think there is, and answer yes, and the answer turns out to be no?

      • MentatYP says:

        I’m not inside his head so I can’t definitively attribute motive. But it is clear that even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, he is at the very least lying to himself when he “truly believes” he can achieve these outlandish promising he’s making.

        But focusing on the lying and whether or not he is are simply semantics and a distraction. The important takeaway is the man should never be trusted with money ever again as he has no sense of how much time (and therefore money) a development project takes, and is unwilling to be introspective and realise his faults and do something about them. Instead he just wants to excuse himself by claiming that’s just his nature. Nonsense!

  8. suibhne says:

    Molyneux deserves to be held accountable, repeatedly and richly, but this interview wasn’t a good piece of journalism. And I say that as someone who’s generally a big fan of John’s work.

    There’s a significant difference between observing facts (and holding people to account for them) vs. imputing motive. This interview shaded way too far onto the latter part of the spectrum. It’s not a journalist’s job to make psychological diagnoses – they don’t provide any additional power for the journo or context for the reader. A journalist should go beyond shorthand labels, and hold people to account for objective reality.

    There would’ve been more objective ways to reach exactly the same ends here. Molyneux is good at hanging himself with his own rope; step back and let him.

  9. MadTinkerer says:

    I totally believe him that he doesn’t think he lies. That’s because he’s told very few lies. His problem isn’t lying, it’s publicly committing to certain actions which I honestly believe he sincerely thinks he is going to do… and then failing to follow up on those commitments. Which isn’t lying, but it’s still fraud.

    That’s why he keeps doing it. Because he’s not lying, he genuinely intends to do things he should know better than to intend to do in the first place. He makes terrible, terrible plans, and no one calls him on it because he’s the boss.

    It would be wonderful if all of his plans worked out. It would be great for everyone. And that’s why he keeps on making the plans and talking about them. But those plans never work out in reality. If the many-worlds theory is correct, there is a universe where Peter Molyneux is the savior of gaming and everything he plans has worked out for the good of everyone. But it’s not this universe.

    Actually, I just realized: everything he does is antithetical to good software development. The problem is not that he doesn’t have wonderful ideas, it’s that those ideas are all unlikely to work in a software development environment. Unfortunately for him, video game development can’t be separated from software development. The objective reality of software development will not bow to his idealism of what would make a splendid game.

    Lying isn’t even the problem. The problem is his idealism. That’s the tragedy of it all.

    • MentatYP says:

      Take a few courses at uni for development practices and project management. Then demote himself from uber-boss and put somebody in above him to oversee his work. That would fix it.

      But that would also require self-awareness, and Molyneux still doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong. “That’s just the way I am,” is basically his defense.

  10. int says:

    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.’

    This sort of reminded me of what I heard about how George Broussard functioned, and how his Duke Nukem Forever caused 3D Realms to go under. Basically, every time he saw a new feature in a game, he wanted it to be implemented in Duke.

  11. Highwinter says:

    If anything, his reputation is worse.

    I used to defend Molyneux, while he certainly over promises, I believed he still genuinely cared about making games and put effort into them. But then I backed Godus. I’m not naive enough to demand a refund, it was my fault for buying into his lies, but I backed the idea of a back to basics Populous style God game by a Molyneux that wasn’t tied down or restrained by a big publisher. He may not have broken any actual Kickstarter rules, but he lied, deceived and tricked the backers at every possible opportunity. If I had known about things like the Curiosity winner, the mobile version, or the fact we wouldn’t have proper updates or communication through-out the project, then I never would have given him money. Never mind the fact he’s seemingly now all but abandoned it. It’s painted a very clear picture of what kind of developer he is and I’ve lost all the faith I once had in him, even during the Black & White and Fable games.

    I almost want to see him attempt a second project on Kickstarter, just to see how little money he’d get.

  12. zer0sum says:

    This interview is embarrassing for Rock Paper Shotgun, to the extent that RPS intends to produce legitimate journalism. I’ve been watching the Molyneux overpromise for two decades and I understand that it’s a bit ridiculous at times, but it does actually seem clear to me that Peter is good-natured and excitable about this work.

    This interview, however, was vicious as hell, and it’s not journalism. It’s attack dog, Bill O’Reiley grade tabloid trash.

    • Crea says:


      What’s even more bizarre is watching John attempt to categorise objections from coming largely from the Gamergate crowd. I surely can’t be the only guy who has no time for GG, yet also thinks this interview is a vicious and over-the-top attack on a well-meaning, but admittedly inept, developer?

      • James Currie says:

        please keep that toxic sludge out of a discussion on journalism


        All humanity.

  13. sabby says:

    I’m not sure where the site will go after this – I guess it all depends on the outcome of this piece and its effect on Godus (hopefully positive, but that’s highly doubtful isn’t it?). The tone of the piece is toxic, it’s sour reading and it’ll likely encourage devs to avoid playing nicely in the future. John Walker likely thinks he’s fighting the good fight here, but bringing into question a state of mental illness within the first paragraph over a the lateness of a videogame (A VIDEOGAME) is completely off the charts, it’s shameful.

    The comments section is another thing entirely. If the encouragement of this style of journalism is the demographic which rps seeks to appease, then I can see a few of its talented writers abandoning ship.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      But its not about the lateness of a game, its about a developer who’s later half of his career is full of instances like this and the reluctance or inability of that developer to learn from it.

      I remember the Fable Acorn incident and that was for the original Xbox. He has a huge track record of promising features in games then not delivering in a spectacular fashion. He’s been called up on it numerous times but has always been able to hide behind his career and the publisher. It was never Peter’s fault, the publisher (Microsoft) wanted the game released by a certain point or within a too tight budget. There was always an excuse.

      This time it was different because he’s used these bold, unobtainable promises to take money directly from the consumer base, from people who no nothing about game development and wouldn’t realise something was amiss. That’s the issue. For over a decade Peter has been constantly made aware of his over promising and under delivering and at no point did he ever take responsibility for his actions or learn from them. This was the one time where he had complete control, where he could set his own budget, his own timeframe and his own outcomes. This should have been that one time where he made achievable promises. Not only did he do the same thing again but to such an extent it was ridiculous.

  14. SXO says:

    This was an incredible interview. Great job, John, and thanks for not pulling any punches. And as much as people love to rail on Peter, I think he was quite frank in this interview, and although his answers weren’t exactly what people may have wanted to hear, I believe he was as honest as he could possibly be. He explained every single decision they made and why, even if it exposed his chronic poor judgement. We got insight into why they got a publisher even after saying they wouldn’t, and frankly if they were out of money, I can’t blame them. I’d rather they do that than let the project completely falter due to lack of funds. And as much as it was his own fault for not estimating the budget properly, when all is said and done, he did what he had to do to salvage it. You can’t refund money you no longer have.

  15. mattevansc3 says:

    I don’t know why but for some reason Peter’s inability to acknowledge the fact that he knowingly made false promises reminds me of South Park’s Michael Bay.
    [youtube link to

  16. Kevindwhite says:


    What a great, but brutal interview. I genuinely admire the passion both John and Peter have for this industry. I feel that I should be buying Godus now…You just can quite literally picture the people working in the office while he’s doing the interview. A surreal read.

    Anyway, I hope they get their shit together soon. This type of controversy can’t be good for creativity.

    I loved B&W…they should redo that.

  17. Morph says:

    Just a quick thumbs up from me. Excellent interview.

  18. mattevansc3 says:

    Also you can already see this was going to turn out terribly by Peter’s poor mathematics.

    Twenty two developers at £30k a year for nine months is;
    (22×30000)x0.75 = £495,000

    The original kickstarter figure would not even cover people’s wages, the final figure barely did. This isn’t even taking into account other costs such as Kickstarter fees or rent.

    I don’t believe Peter knowingly lied. In his own mind he was telling the truth, its just that his “truth” is so far removed from reality it could only exist in Peter’s head.

  19. MadTinkerer says:

    Edit button not working? Hmmm. Well here’s something I was going to paste in to my other post:

    Peter Molyneux: I think I can try.

    RPS: But do you think you can achieve it?

    Peter Molyneux: You’ve gotta try, man!

    Peter, I understand where you’re coming from. But you need to grow up and learn the realities of software engineering. By which, I mean read The Mythical Man-Month and ask your programmer friends what books and blogs they recommend, and you’ll never know everything to avoid but you’ll finally be able to have a clearer picture of what should be tried and what shouldn’t. You don’t need a computer science degree (I think you have a really old Comp Sci degree or something? Well, my point is you don’t need to go back and re-learn the basics of syntax because that’s all they’ll teach you in school), you need to have a firm understanding of how people and software interact in the process of development, and most importantly the principle of
    adding people to a team usually makes things worse. The ideal number of artists per artwork is one. The ideal number of cooks per dish is one. The ideal number of programmers per program is one.

    If you can’t work with the ideal number of programmers, because you need more than one programmer to implement things on a particular project, you need to be aware of the kinds of problems that having more than one programmer will inevitably cause. You need to be aware of all of the tradeoffs of every decision you make, and that more people working on the same things will usually make things worse instead of better and why that is and why you will never be able to scope perfectly but you have the potential to scope far better than you currently do.

    This is the reality of software engineering. This is why you keep failing. This is why others fail and drop out.

    At the end of the day, maybe you need to make your own games and stop working with others. Maybe you need to make your own little Indie games because that’s what you’re actually good at doing. (and by “Indie” I mean you can still work with a music guy and a graphics guy and a dialogue guy, but no more than one programmer whether that’s you or someone else) Please don’t burn out before you finally try that again.

  20. zaphod42 says:

    YES. John fucking walker, about damn time somebody took Molyneux to task for all his mountain of bullshit. Never has somebody gone through so much effort to distort history to cover their own ass.

    I only fear that he learned nothing from it and will continue to blame the press for his own failings.

  21. Kohlrabi says:

    When will people understand that kickstarter is an investment into an idea you want to see realized, and not the purchase of a product. If you want to purchase a product, go out and buy something. At kickstarter you’re financing an idea, with the usual risk of an investment that your money will be “lost”. That’s what an investment is, weighing the risk against the reward (except if you’re a huge bank, then you will get government bailouts, but I digress…) And in Peter Molyneux’ case it’s pretty easy to know the outcome: “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…”.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Kickstarter is not an investment. An investment implies equity which you do not get with Kickstarter. All you get with Kickstarter is your tier rewards, that is it. In that regard it is a product.

      Peter and every other person doing a Kickstarter is asking for money in exchange for specific items.

      That is why I never have and never will pledge money to Kickstarter as it has all the negatives associated with investment funding with none of the benefits but I can still agree with people being pissed off when both Kickstarter and the likes of PM are treating it as a glorified store.

      • Kohlrabi says:

        That is why I never have and never will pledge money to Kickstarter as it has all the negatives associated with investment funding with none of the benefits
        Exactly. It’s an investment with no guarantee whatsoever, other than your belief in peoples’ consciousness and honesty.

  22. DrScuttles says:

    I was wrong. But it’s not a lie.
    Cheers, Peter. Totally stealing that one.

  23. Jenks says:

    Very good interview. I think Peter held his own more than many of the commenters here seem to believe. At the end of the day, I will judge him on Godus when it says 100% complete. A few years of delays is not unusual for a video game, that’s been the case since the mid 90s.

    I would say he lied about Curiosity coming to PC, but did anyone really want Curiosity on PC?

    (the answer is no)

  24. Lytinwheedle says:

    I was wondering if the ‘creative vision’ Molyneux apologists would be better off simply following Molydeux on Twitter instead. Shitloads of genuinely creative ideas, and as much chance of seeing them implemented as with Molyneux.

  25. Kefren says:

    I thought this was way too harsh. We’re only talking about a game. A game that isn’t finished, hasn’t been halted, it is just delayed. Someone over-promised, and has a habit of that – but I’d rather that than the cynical PR spinning of the big publishers. This feels too much like an attack on an individual. The very first questions was an outright mean-spirited thing. I wasn’t going to comment but over an hour later I’m still thinking about it and feel I need to say this. Part of me feels that he got more of a raw deal simply because he was willing to put himself out there – think of all the times EA, Ubisoft et al have disappointed us, and you just get a “no comment” from them. I can see why Peter Molyneux feels under attack. I think this is all way too strong for the situation. Others will disagree, fine, but reading this made me uneasy.

  26. iyokus says:

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

    Think this sums up Molyneux.

  27. gmx0 says:

    Whoever “John” is, he has no idea what we game designers and developers go through, even with small projects that should only take less than 24 hours.

    • Sam says:

      But a game developer with 25+ years of leading teams does have a good idea of the problems that creative projects face. If you’re an experienced developer and ignore all that experience by assuming everything will go perfectly then you’re being untruthful. If you’re doing that in order to get people to pay you money, you’re not being a good person. At best Molyneux has been repeatedly and hopelessly naïve to a degree that could be called incompetence.

      • oatmeal2k says:

        this. he knew full well that his schedule was completely unrealistic.

        what’s the difference between lying and saying something will happen when you KNOW it won’t.

    • James Currie says:

      As a mod developer, I similarly understand the problems of creative projects. I am currently helping with a JC 2 multiplayer minigame that to the idiot should take a few hours to make. I know that it needs testing, proper routes on the map must be found. Things must be coded and tested. then coded and tested again. Were I to say to the JC 2 multiplayer community: ‘This will be out Monday!’ I would be a complete idiot. With my experience I know that at a minimum the project will take until at least Friday. John is an experienced journalist who knows as much as I do that creative projects are difficult to plan and create a deadline for – but there are limits. And you sure as hell shouldn’t make deadline promises you cannot keep. A few months late – fair enough, you can play the ‘it was more difficult that we thought’ card. Rockstar plays that card currently with GTA V on PC – yes its late, but R* said ‘sorry! This was a bit harder that we realised!’ and I forgive them for it as someone who understands the their situation. Were it to be 2 years late – I’d be wanting to do their head in. 2 years on a seven month project does not carry the reason of ‘it was harder than we thought’. There are serious issues of either shady business or outright incompetence at play. From he interview I’m beginning to think more of the latter, but the former still has a role.

  28. oatmeal2k says:

    I can’t believe people are taking issue with the tone of this interview. Molyneux does not deserve our respect, and he certainly does not deserve our sympathy.

    He is a charlatan and possibly the worst purveyor of take-the-money-and-run game development that’s running rampant right now. He deserves to be held accountable and we are lucky to have someone like John in the press doing it.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      People are taking issue with the tone of this interview because we expect at least a modicum of professionalism, which is not something we got here. The fact that it was Peter Molyneux in particular who was being interviewed is irrelevant to that expectation.

    • Josh W says:

      I think a lot of people deserve our sympathy, up to and including murderers serving their sentences in jails, if they are treated less than we would expect of a human being.

      I think John pushed quite far in this interview, being amusing but vindictive in a few places, but even if John had been more restrained, Peter Molyneux would still have my sympathy.

  29. Saarlaender39 says:

    Well, I’m no Doctor, nor a psychiatrist, nor a psychologist, so I don’t know, if there IS such a condition as a “pathological liar” at all.

    (and I’m too lazy to google it; after all, this is just a comment on a freaking gaming site, ffs)

    But IF there is such a condition, it seems pretty clear to me, that Mr Molyneux wouldn’t be able to answer that question with “Well, actually… yes – how do you know?”.

    I know some outstanding liars, but here’s the thing: they do it always (!) deliberately.
    What I mean is, they could tell the truth, but they choose to tell lies, instead.

    And if my understanding of the term “pathological (!) liar” is anything near correct, an affected person would not be able to choose. They would be “bound” to lie.
    That’s the thing with anything being “pathological” – you cannot choose.

    However – I think Mr Molyneux IS an ill man. Once again, I’m no Doctor, etc., but I believe he suffers of some form of illness, that affects his brain/mental health.
    At least that’s the impression, that I get, when I read his stuttered and repeated statements in the interview.

    (I am right, when I believe, John wrote the thing down, as it was recorded (aka: verbatim), yes?)

    And I think, he would be good advised, if he’d be looking for professional help (if he hasn’t done so, already).

    It was painful to read the thing.
    And I’m not even a fan of Mr Molyneux and his (past) work, mind you.

    I mean, i do know some devs by name (John Romero, Sid Meier, Jordan Mechner, etc.), and of course Peter Molyneux is one of them, but to me all of these people are just “guys who made/make games”.
    I don’t see ’em as “gods, walking among us mere mortals”, as some of you seem to do.

    So, I don’t see him as a fallen god – I just see a 54 y.o. man, who is unabe to connect to his old successes.

    And – right now, I think Mr Molyneux is a man lying face down on the ground, and far too many people on the web have fun kicking him.

    And (as I see it) there are two groups of said people:

    – first, the ones that haven’t even backed his game, but amuse themselves by bashing him nonetheless.

    Those are the people, that have NO right whatsoever, to feel being entitled to bash him.

    – second, the people that backed his game, but did so (as we can read again in this comment section, like we could in so many others before) well knowing, that he has a reputation of a man “always overpromising” and “never delivering his great ideas” for over a decade now.

    Now – and I know,this must be an inconvenient question for many of you – but it’s a question that’s long overdue: IF you all knew his reputation for the last decade…then why did you give him your money for GODUS in the first place?
    I mean, what’s the definition of insanity, again?

    “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

    But some of you did do the same over and over again for the last ten years (aka: buying Molyneux’ games)…and expected the outcome to be different (aka: getting a game as good as you remember his classics)?

    Where is YOUR personal responsibility in all this?

    Did you pay to get a great game (against all odds)?
    Or did you pay to have a legit (?) reason to rant and complain about P.M. and to bash him?

  30. grable says:

    Well that was a bitchy interview, if i can even call it that. Complaining about money and time, over and over again. shit.

    • James Currie says:

      John moved on when he got an answer – it’s just that PM was stunningly evasive and as such that necessitated repetitive questioning to get and answer. That’s journalism.

  31. tomimt says:

    This definetly was pretty hostile interview, but I can understand where it comes from.

    The thing with Molyneux is though, wich very often is missed by people, that he is in an essence a dream merchant, and a very good one at that. He has these wild dreams in which he believes in so much passion that he can make other people see them as well, who then are disappointed when many of those dreams end up being left out when they weren’t that easy to eachieve.

    If Molyneux had an ounce of L. Ron Hubbard in him he’d be a dangerous man.

    • McBob says:

      Thanks for stating this, It sums up my feelings so well, dream merchant is the best way to describe him. Most people don’t realize that this goes way back, even to Dungeon Keeper. My cousin and I read his interviews about how there would be this amazing mode where one person would build a dungeon and the other would invade it, and they’d have to fight through the traps and monsters. We would talk about it for hours. Then the game came out and that was nowhere to be found.

      Fable sounded amazing, open world, choices that matter, a place you can really make an impact. Also remember, this was the first console with a hard drive, he sold everything as possible because of that. Then it’s a corridor action rpg that took 10 hours to beat, and you had little to no impact on the world.

      That’s why I’m bitter toward him, he creates these amazing dreams, shares them with you, get’s you all excited about them, then delivers something completely different, and most of the time worse.

      • wu wei says:

        This. It took me a very long time to accept Dungeon Keeper for what it was, because all of Molyneux’s hype leading up to it sounded a lot like what Neverwinter Nights ended up being. What we got was a fundamentally different game from what was promised.

  32. DanMan says:

    Wow. Kudos to PM for plowing through this. I stopped reading where John was laughing at him the first time, and it kept going for multiple screen lenghts.

    Show some respect, man. *shakes head* I’m disappointed. That’s not what I call journalism.

  33. hairlessOrphan says:

    Full disclosure: I’ve been a software developer for 15 years, so I’m familiar with how difficult it is to give accurate time estimates. And it never gets easier. Lots of articles on the web for why that is, but they’re all written by developers, not journalists.

    After reading RPS for years and mostly loving it, this interview left such a bad taste in my mouth I felt compelled to register to comment.

    No doubt Peter is bad at project management. Not in dispute. But to conflate that with malice or to say he “deserves” this treatment is a fucking awful thing to do to a human being.

    As an example, most of you have been writing English for years. And yet you all have typos and grammatical errors in your posts. All of you. You’ve been writing English for YEARS. You should know better by now!

    So John calls you up, and the first thing he asks you is, “are you a fucking illiterate?” He then asks you leading questions like why you enjoy being a fucking illiterate so much, or whether or not you’ve ever realized you’re too stupid for English.

    And this is “journalism?” It’s not. It’s just abuse.

    Peter is not blameless in this, but what John did was awful in its own right. If it was just in a fit of anger, I would understand. Not great, but I get it. What really left a bad taste in my mouth, though, is how premeditated this interview sounds. Like John was just licking his chops; he couldn’t wait to hurt someone.

    • hairlessOrphan says:

      Can we not edit posts? I just wanted to add – a tiny voice in a sea of noise, but one I hope someone reads… that I hate to think I’m going to stop reading RPS for this, but every time I click on another article, I can still taste this one. And knowing that my clicks give you ad money to pay John to do this again… and that this article has generated so much ad money for you that John will likely be encouraged to do this to another human being… It makes me feel gross by association.

      Dear RPS: this will likely not show up in your ad metrics, because you’ve gained so many clicks, but you’ve also lost at least one reader.

      • James Currie says:

        You’re analogy to Enlgish is seriously flawed. Grammar and spelling mistakes are akin to bugs in a video game. Every game has some bugs, even experienced studios like Bioware or Lucasarts had releases containing bugs – I would never call them inept for it.

        What PM has done is more like writing 50 pages of a novel for a book due for release in January 2012, and writing the other 250 pages in March 2012 whilst delaying the novel until June 2014. It can be in great English, but I wouldn’t be satisfied to read it an January.

      • reptilianbrain says:

        yeah man I also want to stop reading them after this

        I do hope this resonates with larger audiences and people will boycott rps for this

      • Synesthesia says:

        Yes. I for one, am done reading joihn’s writing, and adblock is back up. This is tabloid tripe, and wouldn’t stand up to the be excellent to each other rule for a single second. I would love to see a follow up article from another rps writer, see what they think about this. Molyneux fucked up repeatedly, but this public shaming and the excessive schadenfreude is a bit sickening.

    • SuziQ says:

      I very much agree. Wondering if Peter reads his twitter, I’d like to offer some moral support. Insert laugh from all the haters but whatever, it must be brutal to him and this interview is a joke.

  34. Kala says:

    Ouch. That was kind of hard to read. Not sure how I feel about this one, seemed a wee bit personal.

    On the one hand, it was illuminating and certainly got across to him many of the frustrations people are articulating and held him to account for them. (I’m seeing a lot of comparisons with Paxman in the comments, the dogged lines of questioning aren’t dissimilar).

    On the other…in places it seemed like crossing the line from getting across peoples frustrations with him, and venting your own.

  35. James Currie says:

    Here are my thoughts on the interview, on PM, and on John’s interviewing style.

    First off, PM knew what he was in for, there is no way that one could read Monday’s article and go ‘You know what, he’ll be nice’. I am very surprised that PM did not seem to expect the confrontational nature of the interview. He constantly retreated to the ‘I work super hard – take pity!’ card which is a fair enough response if the question is related to PM’s workload but most of the questions asked by John had no relevance to workload. I do genuinely believe that PM works hard and at some point cared greatly about Godus. But his reference to Machiavelli raised my eyebrows little. It implied that John was asking if PM has intentionally swindled hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the public and done so repeatedly – improving one’s own situation at the expense of others – something that Machiavelli advocated as a fact of human nature that should be worked with, not averted. PM’s reference to this philosophy is not something that John was at all asking. Very few people seem to believe PM to be intentionally doing this – the opening question made it unflinchingly clear that John’s assumptions were that PM tries to be good but absolutely sucks at it. Such a reference means a number of things: firstly, PM is reasonably well read on his Machiavelli, which I have to give him a cookie for. Secondly, that PM has completely and utterly misinterpreted John’s line of questioning, something that does happen repeatedly in the interview. This is something that a person thinking rationally would not do, as John shamelessly acts like a bearded Jeremy Paxman and as such left little room for error on his intended line of questioning to PM. It is evident from the article that PM was not rational, not thoughtful, not really listening to John as he was asking his very straightforward questions. The amount of times that PM interrupted John is terrible, it is testament to John’s ability and patience that he was able to get the odd answer out of him. PM relentlessly tried to dodge John’s questions, his persistence in doing so would make political spin doctors green with envy. A small part of me admires how much he stuck to his line of answer, the rest of me hates him for it.

    In summary of PM he was irrational, rude, sometimes stupid and – to the layman- a pathological liar. If he were a nation he’d have a ‘junk’ credit rating.

    So onto John and his interview style. To those of us in the UK we all know that John is either extraordinary or a fan of Jeremy Paxman, who’s interview style is legendary in the UK to the extent that some party spin doctors would have conversations like this:

    ‘So who’s doing the interview?’
    ‘Paxman, 11:30 next Monday’
    ‘Cancel it’

    Paxman was relentless in getting the point out of the interviewee and if it was clear that they would try to dodge the question, he would ask it again and again and again and again and again until he got an answer. John did the same, though sometimes rephrasing the question slightly to try and coax an answer out of PM. To most in the UK, Paxman is a journalistic god that is to go-to style for difficult and evasive interviewees (The comment auto-correct does recognise that term so I’m using it :P) – and as UK resident I praise John for his tough and direct approach to PM, it got some answers and it informed me as a consumer. John did his job excellently. However the closest the US has to Paxman is the likes of Bill O Riely or Rush Limbaugh, figures of journalistic mockery for having a party political agenda for the interview. It is therefore reasonable to expect that many non-UK readers would be taken aback by John’s style as it is one seen as excellent in the UK, but is often associated with journalistic crap in other countries.

    There is also the nature of RPS to consider when it comes to the less formal, more emotive style of this interview. For the most part, this is bad journalism (though for reasons already discussed that may not be the case) however RPS in not strictly pure journalism. I tend to lump RPS in the category of a hybrid of TotalBiscuit and The Independent (A neutral UK newspaper), in that they are on the one hand professional journalists who publish press releases, go ‘woo look at this fancy trailer’ and cover the fairly dry matters of company takeovers and financial reports as much as a professional news outlet would. However as the number of ‘I have a baby now!’ type of article that RPS publishes per year and the ‘Please don’t fuck up Just Cause 3’ article that was published a little while back show, RPS is not simply professional journalism. It is very consumer focussed, it is not about to publish articles pointlessly attacking its readership and it is not about to recommend a game that is clearly crap because Ubisoft payed them to recommend it. RPS exists as a middle ground between punditry and journalism – and I think John was treading that line during the interview, acting occasionally as an emotive backer would but similarly he often just stated facts and asked for a response – as your average news anchor would. With the nature of RPS in mind, this interview hits the mark well, though potentially in the wrong order. I feel like the pathological liar stiff was a punch to pull at the 3rd or 4th question, and that a pattern of asking simple questions and then delivering an emotive uppercut would have gotten a less squirmy response from PM, at least before he caught on to the pattern.

    There are my thoughts. Make of them what you will.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Wherever Paxman may fall on the specturm of quality (or not), O’Reilly, Hannity, etc aren’t practicing journalism. They are staging scenes for their audience. Preening and throwing treats to their mob. Essentially preaching to their choir.

      “Are you a pathological liar?” is not a question. It’s a sentence designed to portray the interviewer and interviewee in very particular lights, for the sake of the interviewer’s audience. Red meat for the baying hounds. No one is going to answer “Yes I am” to it. As has been pointed out, a pathological liar probably *couldn’t* answer yes to it.

      It’s a stunt “question” on the level of a preening Bill O’Reilly. It’s to buttress the image of the interviewer as asking tough questions. And for the gratification of an inflamed audience. If Paxman also falls into that category, then it does not speak to the quality of his technique either. It’s hackwork. And it is not to be confused with hard-hitting, muckraking, quality journalism, which both countries do have a strong tradition of.

      Walker claims he has no agenda, yet he displays one from the very start. He lies, while accusing someone else of lying, badly undercutting his own legitimacy. Again, very O’Reilly-esque. PM wasn’t the only liar in that particular conversation.

      To be generous, if it’s not hackwork, it’s amateurish.

      • James Currie says:

        It was well within PM’s power to answer that opening question with: ‘perhaps, perhaps not, neither of us are qualified to say, so get on with a professional interview’ however he instantly launched into the victim card, forcing John to follow him on a journey to a Paxman interview. I suspect John was struggling with patience toward the end of the article, and I don’t like that, I understand it though.

        I will also point out that John praised PM several times in the interview – though PM wasn’t listening as he repeated his answer to the previous question when praised for it as if he was being attacked for it. John was very clear, even pleading with PM to understand that PM was being praised by John for small parts of the interview. There is NOTHING O’Reiley-ish about that. That is very Paxman-like. And there is no denying that I am more informed for reading it. That is a success.

        • jonahcutter says:

          But why would he even answer it? It’s a manipulative sentence structured to make PM look bad by being confronted with an essentially un-answerable question, and thus JW look good. PM is not going to say his a pathological liar, obviously. And if he says no he’s not, it’s “proof” he actually is a pathological liar. It’s a set-up for an already outraged audience to respond with: “See! He’s lying about being a liar. John Walker exposes the fraud with his tough questioning.”

          It’s a very cheap but effective and manipulative tactic. The interviewer makes it clear from the beginning he has a predetermined agenda, and is going to structure the exchange to emphasize it. Without a doubt, old Peter talks out of both sides of his mouth. If not outright committing to the act, he continuously dances around the edge of lying.

          I think though, you are far too forgiving of the interviewer. I don’t doubt John Walker is admiring of Molyneux’s past work. And that admiration may be the impetus behind Walker’s approach in this exchange. He’s perhaps a disillusioned and outraged fan. Not an illegitimate thing to be by any means. But just as Molyneux’s past great work doesn’t excuse his ethical lapses of today, Walker’s admiration of that past work and outrage over Molyneux’s current failings doesn’t forgive Walker’s Fox News-style “journalism” in response.

          This is theater. It’s spectacle for the edification of an audience. Fox News-style. You can’t blame Peter and his ethical failings for John’s hacky tactics.

          Perhaps, in a way, these two deserve to be in conversation with each other.

          • James Currie says:

            My basic point is that JM is not going to give a straight answer – that much is made clear in just about every interview of the bast 5 years. Therefore John has to be tough, even rude. Is it polite, good journalistic integrity? No, it is not. But it is required to get something out of JM that is not overwhelmingly evasive. I have said that John should not have opened with that question, he should have asked it at some point, it is something people genuinely want answered as JM displays a lack of reliability typical of what the public understand to be pathological lying.

            I will not criticise John for getting to the point, especially given JM’s inability to answer a yes/no question in less than 100 words. I have criticised John for asking that question first – it was unprofessional. But he should have asked it at some point.

            It may just be that I am from the UK, but JM reminds me of awkward or stupid politicians. They evade simple questions and wouldn’t give an honest answer if their life depended on it. The Paxman Treatment, as it is known, was the only way to get them to be even slightly forthcoming about their dubious activities. As JM reminds me of such people, I applaud John’s Paxman-esque style. But he should have done a better job of it. Also the Mayfair question – that was bollocks and a waste of time. The rest of it informed me as a consumer though, and in a way that would not have been possible with JM were it not for the aggressive, if rude, questions of John. I don’t like aggressive press – but sometimes that is needed for the benefit of the consumer.

          • jonahcutter says:

            Oh we’ve got a healthy supply of stupid, evasive, slimy politicians over here too. Can’t swing a dead cat in Washington without smacking one. Not that it isn’t satisfying to do so…

            I’m not familiar with your Paxman. But I’d ask you, if you are familiar with Bill O’Reilly, do you see them as analogues of each other? Basically the same, serving the same purpose? Or do you see fundamental differences between them? Because JW’s tactics here are, to me, very much O’Reilly-esque. Perhaps needless to say, but I don’t consider O’Reilly a tough-minded journalist in the slightest. He doesn’t practice journalism. He provides theater.

            I’m glad you can see the awfulness of that first question. Whether it “needs” to be asked is debatable. Simply letting Molyneux equivocate and evade repeatedly makes the same point. Such a question, anywhere in the piece, I’d see as self-indulgent posturing by the writer. Again, very Bill O’Reilly. To lead with it, or to let it be led with, shows some really poor judgement.

            So many people exulting over Molyneux “getting what he deserves” tips the observant off to what this piece is largely about. It’s not journalism exposing a fraud. Walker doesn’t establish anything that wasn’t already known and proclaimed publicly by… well… just about everyone: Molyneux has largely become a huckster whose claims are not to be trusted. We already knew this.

            What this piece is though, is a public bloodletting to gratify the angry mob. John poking Peter with a stick repeatedly. “When did you stop beating your wife” level of unanswerable questioning right out of the gate. Fox News style theater for an angry, outraged audience.

            Anyway, it’s been interesting debating you James Currie.

            /tip o’ the hat.

  36. seroto9 says:

    Great interview, and I applaud RPS for presenting it in what appears to be an honest fashion. Bravo!

  37. Peptidix says:

    Thanks for this interview.
    If anything it shows why publishers still have a place in development, at its best people with experience in process management and the power to use it.

  38. shiptonator says:

    A nasty vicious attack and not a proper interview or journalism. 0/10

    • James Currie says:

      This wasn’t dry journalism, this was holding a man who has taken 500k and not delivered. John was holding him to account as much as a pundit as a journalist. Do I feel sorry for PM? Yes. Do I think John a bad journalist? No. He got answers, I am greatly more informed as a consumer for having read this. I’d like to give PM credit for getting through this – but the savagery of John was largely as a result of PM dodging every damn question.

      • reptilianbrain says:

        He is not a bad or good journalist
        He is not a journalist after this

  39. Jip says:

    That was an interesting, if slightly uncomfortable read. There’s no denying PM’s love for his work, but if I got anything out of this interview, it’s that Peter should not be allowed to talk to the press, or anyone for that matter. He just seems to vocalise everything that’s going on in his head, and while that shows his creativity and love for his work, he needs someone to vet what he says before he’s allowed to say it in public.
    I’m glad we have a Peter Molyneux in the games industry, and he has some truly great ideas, but he should leave the promoting, hype and promises to someone a little more grounded. It’s sad to see someone so passionate lambasted so often just because heart, mouth and brain don’t seem to synchronise very well.

    • James Currie says:

      I agree. I pity JM. However I am glad for this interview – he had to be held to account for the farce he has created. I wish he was a hype guy too, he is born for that role. A shame someone thought he could be a developer nowadays.

  40. J_C says:

    Peter deserved this interview, but he was an easy target. Too bad RPS doesn’t make interviews like this when a high profile developer or publisher like Bioware, EA or Activision fucks up.

    • Sam says:

      The reason for that is large companies will simply not put anyone up for interview.
      RPS has had extensive and powerfully negative coverage of large budget games that have messed up. The Sim City reboot, for example. But EA have a PR department who know the best way to deal with a problem is to keep quiet and spend a few more million on adverts.

      • James Currie says:

        As a company that often advocates for the consumer, AAA publishers aren’t that fond of RPS because when AAA publishers mess up, RPS WILL cover it. TotalBiscuit experiences a similar thing as a punditry/journalism figure where some publishers blacklist him because they know he will hold them to account for their shoddy work. I expect that with the pro consumer reputation that RPS has built up, and brought to the spotlight with this interview, they may get blacklisted by some shady dev and publishers. Doubtless that they will comment on that.

        It is great to have a gaming site that puts out frequent content and that doesn’t call me stupid, masochistic, sadistic, or a dying breed twice a year. Long live RPS and its usefulness to the consumer.

  41. Luxxicon says:

    That was a truly impressive read… sad, funny, and printing the entire interview was the most honest way to portray what happened.

  42. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Wow. Great interview, but parts of it were hard to read. Too much unhappiness.

  43. Tim Ward says:

    Did you threaten to overrule him? Did you threaten to overrule him?

  44. Fitzmogwai says:

    You know what? PM’s behaviour sounds very much like something I have personal experience of. I don’t know what the “proper” name for it is, but basically it stems from a desperate need or approval and love. The results are that the person in question will just say what he or she thinks their audience want to hear, regardless of whether or not that thing is achievable.

    As an example: someone from who you want approval from asks you if you’ll do something for them. You don’t want to do it. You have no intention of doing it at all. Inside there’s a voice *screaming* NO! But still you say yes, you’ll do it. And you know you’ve said yes, and the other person now expects you to do it – possibly is even relying on you to do it – so what you do is keep quiet, and hope that somehow this thing you have to do just goes away. Then when you get asked “where’s that thing you said you’d do?” you start to go to pieces. In many instances this can take the form of starting to promise better but even more unachievable things. because you feel wretched for disappointing the person who’s approval you want or need, and you want to give them something even better to make up for it so you gain their approval once more.

    Basically from there it’s a spiralling descent in to Hell, and the worst thing about it from the point of view of the sufferer is that he or she is not a sociopath who’s blind to the consequences of their actions, but that it’s all too clear that the others involved are becoming increasingly hurt, angry and dissatisfied.

    Now I don’t claim to know anything at all about Peter Molyneux’s personal background at all. I don’t know if this is the situation he’s in or how he thinks or feels.

    All I can do is say that it’s behaviour I recognise and while I now don’t trust a word he says and I haven’t bought a game he’s made for a long long time, I do have sympathy for him. It doesn’t excuse his actions or his lies (and yes, they are lies) but I also guess that he probably can’t help himself.

  45. Enough. says:

    I don’t really like John’s style – I’ve gone to avoid all his other posts on RPS. I read this one, and while I don’t agree that this is an interview (more like an hour and a half of making Molyneux regret his career choice), it was an entertaining read.

  46. dragonfliet says:

    Honestly, I’m not sure if I’m done reading RPS, of if I’m just done reading anything by John. Probably the latter. I apologize if this sounds extreme, and I know that it does, but let me very briefly explain why:

    There is a very big difference between holding people accountable, and attacking them. It is not a fine line, it is a clearly discernible one. This article is about attacking, and it is brutal, and painful to read. I started it, so I finished it, but good lord.

    The very, very, very first question is whether or not he is a pathological liar? WTF? What human being thinks that they’re going to get a productive conversation started with that line? What journalist thinks that they’re opening a dialog by calling the person a PATHOLOGICAL LIAR? It is clear from the opening that this is going to be an attack, and it just follows.

    Here’s the thing: Molyneux has a big mouth, and he over promises, and these promises are deceptive, and have misled gamers, and have seriously hurt his reputation, etc., etc. It is obvious that he is not to be trusted. I am perfectly okay with us regarding him as a liar, as he simply doesn’t follow through on many of the things he said (that seems cut and dried). That being said, it seems very apparent to anyone that he isn’t specifically choosing to say something untrue, but, rather, that he is choosing to believe in the things which MIGHT be true. He implemented an acorn system in a game, he LOVES that system, he WANTS it to be in the game, and it’s already working! GREAT! He then tells everyone it will be in the game, and then practical reality kicks in and it can’t make it–he does this over and over. Again, it means that we can’t believe his promises, because they are founded on flaky premises, but they aren’t made up, they aren’t imaginary, and they aren’t made to deceive. It is pretty apparent when a person is telling you a thing which is not true and when they are telling you a thing which might not happen (ie: telling someone about to go into surgery to remove a cancerous lump that it’s going to be okay might not happen, but it’s not a lie: telling them that after the surgery, they’ll be able to pick up an automobile is a lie).

    And the article goes on: it seems apparent to anyone that Molyneux is TERRIBLE at predicting schedules and money necessary (those two being inherently linked), based on his long and well documented history of failing to get things done either on time OR on budget (generally being neither), so when he is called a liar here, the claim being that he KNEW he couldn’t do it, it seems pretty tone deaf to me. It seems like, again, he is simply TERRIBLE at managing this time aspect, and he needs to be held accountable for this, he needs to be asked questions like: given your history of being over time and over budget, WHY haven’t you taken these things into account, and why has this continued to plague you–why isn’t the nature of failure built into your actual predictions and budgets? That’s hard hitting journalism. Instead, he is called a liar, it is insisted that he knows how to budget and then lies about it, etc.

    The end result is that we don’t get any answers, we get a series of all-out attacks, and then we get a person defending themselves. Honestly, I walked into this article LOVING RPS and finding little to nothing worthwhile about Molyneux for the last fifteen years–disbelieving everything he says and having no faith in his projects or vision–and I ended up finding John despicable and unprofessional, and feeling sorry for Molyneux–still not believing his promises or vision, but feeling bad that his failures (and they are big) have been twisted into something much grander, fouler, and obviously not true, and wishing that we had gotten an actual interview.

    This was shameful. Hard hitting journalism should force people to anser real questions, not scream at someone non-stop while they try to fend the blows away from their face.

    • James Currie says:

      I agree with you on OM, I feel sorry for him too. However his evasive answers forced John to get aggressive. It was well within his power to answer ‘ask a professional you moron, that’s a crap question’ to the opening line. he didn’t. John got straight to the issue at hand: PM’s reliability and integrity. And I cannot help but applaud that.

    • DanMan says:

      Thanks for putting into words what I couldn’t be bothered to.

      Another thing: he’s not a liar until he stops working on the game. Time estimates are just that – estimates; an elaborate guess. I should know, ’cause I develop software myself. Any quantification beyond a few weeks is just wishful thinking. It’s only a lie, if he deliberately said something else than what he actually knew. But he couldn’t possibly know how much time/money it’ll come down to. So calling him a liar is unprofessional – at best.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        Well in the interview he states that he knew the money raised wouldn’t cover the costs. With twenty two staff on an average of 30K a year the Kickstarter wouldn’t even cover those wages.

    • Jip says:

      And I agree as well. I can’t say I’ve ever been burned by one of PM’s ambitious dreams, but I appreciate that some have. The fact that people are willing to crowdfund one of gaming’s most notorious “under achievers” (and I say that because I’m struggling to find a better term) shows that he still manages to inspire people with his ideas. Not only that, but he really manages to sell them too, in this case to the tune of over $500K.

      To continue to have that self belief, despite the savaging he gets on a regular basis because reality has proven to fall short of expectations, is pretty impressive. The whole world knows he’s a dreamer, and I’m pretty sure that includes him too, but beating and battering him down until he’s broken and bleeding is not going to change the past. In the worst case scenario it may well make him retire from the industry, and despite the broken promises we’ve all heard many times, I think the games industry needs a Molyneux. He’s a dreamer, and if you stop him dreaming then you also crush that creativity, and that in turn extinguishes a potential spark that could one day be a game that goes down in the history books as legendary.

      I think people give him such a hard time is because everyone WANTS him to succeed, to create that gem. I would hate to see that enthusiasm ever dwindle, but I still think he needs to have an equally brilliant project manager to sit him down and get him to accept reality before he’s allowed to open his mouth in public.

  47. PaceCol says:

    So it’s now ok to criticise a Kickstarter campaign that collects hugely more than it set out to, but doesn’t fulfill the obligations and the architect makes dubious and misleading claims?

    • James Currie says:

      Yes, that sort of thing must be covered, because that’s some shady shit. :D

  48. Asokn says:

    This article needs a Staring Lies tag.

  49. mrvega says:

    I agree with some that it wasn’t a well structured interview. I understand it must have been difficult, with PM essentially fanning the flames of incompetence himself just by speaking. The ‘Mayfair Hotel’ part was completely uncalled for from the interviewer. It was irrelevant and added nothing constructive, really.

    However, I love RPS and someone had to get tough with PM.

    • James Currie says:

      I agree – the hotel question was a waste of time. I suspect it was John getting impatient at PM’s evasive answers, not becoming of a journalist, but well within the realms of acceptability given the purpose of the interview: to confront PM in a manner he cannot run from. It was also to point out how PM contradicted himself within one minute of talking.