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]

1,072 Comments

  1. Chaz says:

    Great interview.

    Yes it did seem a little harsh at times but in all honesty I think it was well needed. Yes Molyneux may be a Mr Nice guy and all that, but it doesn’t excuse him from being taken to task for letting down his customers with false promises. If the interview seemed unduly harsh on him, I think a lot of that was due to his own slippery PR style where he admits culpability and then in the same breath passes the blame on. Most interviews in the past would have just rolled eyes and left it there. So I’m glad John got the bit between his teeth and held on tenaciously for a proper answer.

    I hope this interview will be a bit of a wake up call and slap round the face for Molyneux. It’s been long over due and he needs it. If anything I hope it will be beneficial for him, if it makes him rethink and refocus on the realities of the games he develops rather than being lost in the dreams of what they could be. Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love that the guy has passion and a vision, and dreams of what games could be. But they need to be tempered with realistic expectations. Like many I have a soft spot for Molyneux, after all he’s made some great games that I have loved playing and given me some good memories. However I don’t think anyone can deny his past form has been way off the mark. Probably because we’ve just been letting him get away with his undeliverable grandiose promises for so long now. Hopefully this will be the shunt he needs to get back on track.

  2. toshiro says:

    This has really been stuck in my head, and I have not been comfortable with it. I think now, I have reached a conclusion to this thought process.

    I’m glad the interview was done, I’ve been wanting this for 10 years. But I think RPS severely hurt their image here. I am here because I immensely enjoy the mature and progressive tone, something I have never encountered in regards to gaming before. I think they should put up the recording in its unabridged form so that we can hear the tone of their voices, if honesty is your goal here RPS. And I think John should make a public apology.

    Honestly, I think John should be fired, although I’m glad the interview was done. I’m aware that might sound inconsequential, and indeed it might be, but it is how I feel.

    • Jimbo says:

      You want him to apologise and fire himself, but you’re glad it was done? I think ‘incoherent’ is the word you’re looking for.

      • toshiro says:

        Well, you did not understand what I wrote. Want another try?

        • Premium User Badge

          bokkiedog says:

          Yes. You want John to fire himself from his own website for speaking truth unto power in a way that made a little coward like you piss his pants. Close enough?

          • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

            “truth unto power” Ha ha ha… wow, kid. You really believe that crap, don’t you.

          • toshiro says:

            Take it easy internet tough guy. What’s next, you want to threaten to kill me? And if this is JOHNS defenders, then haha, I feel very sorry for him and this site indeed. I think you are trolling actually, and I think you should listen to this: link to thisamericanlife.org

            You are a sad, sad man. Hope you feel better soon. Remember, life is not fair, don’t expect it to be, it will only make you more bitter than you already are. Best of luck!

    • reptilianbrain says:

      100% agree.
      This John should definitely be fired. It does not matter that he is a founder – founders walk away when they fuck up so the company can prosper.

      That’s what responsible people (founders) do at least. Adults you know.

  3. Bimble says:

    Crikey read like a thriller! Kudos John.

  4. Laurentius says:

    People accusing John of being rude or even doing hit piece on Moulynex are indeed very cruel, cruel towards Peter in fact. Nothing of this sad mess is of John’s doing; it was brought down by Peter himself. It’s not a” kick the man when he’s down” kind of thing, it’s painful process of bringing mirror to video game legend when things are crumbling down. It does not give us satisfaction or happiness or even hope. We feel sad and pity. Modern culture frowns upon those feelings, forces to be happy and forget about sad things. This is wrong, sadness and feeling pity and compassion is huge part of our existence on this planet. We, as humans fail all the time, despite our hard work and our best intentions. This story won’t have happy ending, let’s just embrace sadness for a little while.

  5. ursineultra says:

    I’ve been reading RPS from the start and never had the urge to comment before, but finally I am sufficiently impressed to take the time- this interview is brilliant, actual proper journalism. After reading the Guardian’s gentle prod at Molyneux it cheered me up no end to see John actually properly go at him, and try to hold him accountable for ripping off 17,000 people. Keep up the good work!

  6. randomkeyhits says:

    That was…. rivetting.

    Even during the interview you could see the disconnect from what John was saying at times and Peters responses. Does make me wonder how stressed the interview was at those points as printed word alone loses a lot of of the energy.

    The key thing is that we have to do this stupid, boring, shitty server stuff before doing it

    This one line seems to sum up Peter, at least for me. Core infrastructure, solid tech design should happen up front, NOT as an afterthought. No wonder his projects are always late! “If it isn’t shiny then la la la la la I’m not hearing you” Is the message I get, thought that is of course, just my opinion.

  7. Asrahn says:

    As a backer and a previously huge fan of Molyneux, I can only say: Thank you, John. During the entire development the PC community has continuously aired their worries; “This looks like a mobile game, it plays like a mobile game, please don’t let it become a mobile game”. We’ve naturally had our worried waved aside, told that the PC would “get its proper time”, and so forth.

    And what happens? Mobile game ends up making a ton of money, Peter and the majority of the team moves on to another project, leaving poor fucking Konrad and a few others to pick up the pieces. I’m tired of seeing Peter just slip away to hunt butterflies whilst leaving us, and his team, in the dust. This interview was tough, harsh, and absolutely necessary. Again, thank you.

  8. Yoofaloof says:

    I’d love to know which game, from any developer, everybody seems to be playing which has fulfilled all it’s development promises. It must be fantastic!

  9. Subjective Effect says:

    I know that people are disappointed with Godus and with Peter right now. And that’s fine.

    But I loved Populous, Populous 2, Powermonger, Dungeon Keeper and Syndicate and you know – I can never forget that. Call me a nostalgic old fool but you can’t forget Populous (I liked Populus 3 too. Yeah, I know he’d left then but it never would have happened without Populous in the first place).

    You can say that it would have happened anyway, but Peter invented the God game and so many games have been influenced by that. Regardless of how badly things have gone recently the man deserves respect.

    With that in mind I think we should give the guy a break.

    • James says:

      What you suggest is like giving a man on charges of embezzlement ‘a break’ because he does charity work. Great – but it doesn’t excuse the embezzlement.

      JM’s past deeds are admirable and as you say they were genre defining. But the JM of 10 years ago is not the JM of today, and I think a lot of people are starting to wake up to that.

      • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

        So now you’re essentially accusing Peter Molyneux of embezzlement. Wow.

    • Philomelle says:

      As a rule, forgiving people after they do something very unethical and illegal doesn’t make them stop doing unethical and illegal things.

      In fact, the police saying “We have all this extremely damning evidence against this dude but he’s been so polite and cooperative that it cannot possibly be him.” is invariably the point in every serial killer case after which the culprit goes on to quadruple the victim numbers.

  10. pancakeru says:

    Wow, where is your professionalism? I felt like I could cut the naivety with a knife when I read the part around the cost of developing a game.

    The attitude you had throughout the entire interview exposed your undeserved sense of entitlement, petulance and puerility.

    This is a fucking hobby, you write about an entertainment product. Maybe if you take a step back and look at the whole situation you can get some perspective. This shit isn’t important and you have about as much prerogative to judge someone who actually works in the industry and creates the products you consume as a piece of shit hanging off a sheep’s arsehole has the right to judge how well kempt the sheeps arse hair is.

    I for one won’t be coming back here, hopefully this article turns other people away too. Nothing is more distasteful and offputting than what you displayed above.

    Shame on RPS for publishing this.

    • James says:

      If a guy swindled the public out of 500k for a ‘hobby entertainment product’ and then 2 years later and little to show for said product, all press would want answers. And most do, RPS, The Guardian (PM’s ‘last interview’) more recently he has had his ‘last interview’ with Kotaku, he probably has a couple lined up next week. Next month we may see him do another interview with the Guardian. Who knows with JM?

  11. Sulph says:

    This is the most unprofessional and unapologetically insulting interview I have ever seen on a gaming website. To all you who are lauding RPS for asking the tough questions: yes, they needed asking. They needed answering. Peter needed to face them.

    But making the interview an instrument of retribution on behalf of whomever or whatever is simply not on. John comes across as an emotional, terrible, mean-spirited bully and the very fact that this stands out means this article has failed as any sort of journalism, has failed to present a neutral and impartial view of the proceedings that do not stand in the way of what Molyneux has to say about the sorry state of affairs of his current project, and fails to be anything other than documentary evidence of browbeating. It achieves nothing except making some people feel good about it for a while before their consciences (hopefully) lapse back into their heads and they slink away feeling a little dirty about what they felt.

    This interview is rabble-rousing schlock that makes me feel ashamed that I’ve spent so much of my time reading things here.

    For goddamn shame. You had the opportunity to get these answers out of Molyneux without slapping him around with your fists, John. Whatever Molyneux’s faults are, journalistic composure is something you have to maintain regardless.

    This was not a trial. Molyneux did not to be treated as less than human by someone who, by all accounts, doesn’t seem to be human.

    You owe Molyneux an apology, RPS. And I’m not going to be coming around here much more often because of this embarrassing thing you’ve done.

  12. Saii says:

    Lots of people in this thread who seem to have never seen a combative interview before – perhaps folks should turn on the news once in a while. It’s a hell of a lot less arsey than Paxman used to be (let alone Roger Cook).

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      And those guys are widely considered to be assholes as well. What’s your point?

      • Om says:

        Probably that they’re ‘assholes’ who also happen to be highly respected award-winning journalists? They’re free to be combative without fanboys coming out of the woodwork and moaning about “professionalism” and “lack of courtesy”.

        • Mr.Snowy says:

          Yes, but they also know how to structure an interview. From the opening question on, this was a witch-hunt and a bully-boy beat down. Please don’t mention Walker in the the same breath as Paxman, you may as well compare a Heston Blumenthal meal to the turd that results from it the next day.

  13. s1ckd0nk says:

    I’m still waiting for the open source version of Black & White, that Molyneux talked about back in the days (around year 2000) at Lionhead forums.

    Rude interview yes, a bit unprofessional perhaps, but Peter Molyneux had it coming. Quite frankly I think it’s a miracle he’s been around the games industry as long as he has. All he does is talk PR bullshit. He’s currently making indie-sized games that 2-3 people could complete in a year, but he has a full team behind his. So, too much money leads to too many people, etc. These are all things he should have seen coming; he’s been around.

    That Polargy server infrastructure bullshit had me laughing… what kind of network coders do you have a around?

    I think inside his mind he lives in a Fable-like-fantasy world himself and truly believes all the things that come out of his mouth.

    Actually I would like to hear what’s the role that he has played in making the good old pre-2000 games that he’s been linked to. Especially how have the other team members put up with his shit (although I’m assuming he’s out of the office most of the time talking to the press).

  14. Fredward says:

    I don’t think I’m seeing the cruelty/pettiness/whatever everyone else is seeing here. John was blunt and didn’t beat around the bush and didn’t sugarcoat but he didn’t seem to go out of his way to hurt Molyneux. Plus it takes balls to post a largely unedited transcript.

    Anyway Molyneux kinda strikes me as a manchild. I think his enthusiasm and his intentions are good and pure and all that jazz but he doesn’t seem to realize that’s not all that matters. The ‘they’re out to get me’ mindset doesn’t help the impression either. Or the ‘then I just won’t talk to the press anymore’ thing. He doesn’t seem to want to take any responsibility. Blame, yes. But taking blame without altering anything about your behaviour or even seeming to want to means less than nothing.

    Also to ya’ll calling for John to be fired over a single interview… please. Not only is that over-reacting I’m pretty sure it’s a ridiculous thing to expect since didn’t he help make this place? They’re not firing him. If he can even BE fired.

  15. teamcharlie says:

    The problem isn’t that Peter Molyneux is evil, or that he’s a liar. The problem is that the games he makes are bad, and giving him more money doesn’t make them better.

    I could say that I hope the Kickstarter community learns this, but Molyneux is a charismatic guy and you’ll always find people willing to give money to charismatic people who make insane promises. I guess my advice to Molyneux would be this: stop making games, start a church, and become a video game-themed faith healer. At least then his profits would be tax-free.

  16. neceri says:

    Lovely interview. Keep up the great work!

  17. Riley Lungmus says:

    This is an interesting insight into the development of video games, and the industry as a whole.

    • Riley Lungmus says:

      After reading more comments on this article, I want to suggest that:

      This isn’t an article, it’s a transcription.
      To suggest that John “Wrote” it would mean that there was a fabrication of facts, which there wasn’t.
      If you believe what was written is verbatim what has been said,

      Then isn’t this an interesting ‘article?’

      (P.s. stop talking about editorial staff.)

  18. Manningham says:

    Thank you for this! Some people will not accept responsibility under any circumstances, and they absolutely should be taken to task on it.

    Just maybe, as he goes over this interview in his mind over and over in the coming weeks/months, he’ll ask himself, “Were my excuses, and by extension my conduct, actually unacceptable?”

    More than likely, he’ll just stick to, “I’m fine, John’s just a mean man,” but this interview will stand as a warning to us all, developers and otherwise.. be accountable or be damned.

  19. Premium User Badge

    bokkiedog says:

    Good lord, what a bunch of whiny twats most of you little boys are. “Ooh, John was rude and didn’t show enough respect to the serial con-artist. He wasn’t ‘professional’ in his tone to the great silverback”. Professional?! John’s profession includes weedling out the truth from crooks and thieves, as he does admirably here. Christ, you’re a bunch of forelock tugging milquetoast babies who deserve the regurgitated press-release pap that seems to be the only “journalism” you can digest. God forbid anybody should speak truth to power in front of you confused, blinded, hyper-sensitive cringers.

    For all the people above who whine that they can’t cope with any “confrontation”, that this should have had a “trigger warning” and that combative real journalism should have no place in their RPS “safe space” – oh, just bugger off already to your self-indulgent solipsistic replacement wombs in some ironically-patriarchal walled-garden and leave the adults alone.

    • Sulph says:

      Yes, god forbid people stop trying to be asshats to each other in the quest for the truth from the ‘con-artists’ and the ‘thieves’. While you were working out each syllabic pretzel-twist of your post, did you happen to strangle a couple of babies in their beds and press someone’s eyes into the back of their skull with your thumbs while the kids beyond the garden wall played hop-scotch and sung McCartney lyrics to help reinforce your viewpoint of the world? Oh, maybe you did. I hope it felt good.

      Meanwhile, a reputable website prides itself on being good at its job. Allowing emotions like anger to surface during an interview is poor form, and that it happens repeatedly here shows that all John had in mind was the axe he wanted to grind. If this was a casual conversation, most would only just cluck their tongues and go, ‘oh, that had to burn’, and either move on or congratulate it. But on a site like this it is uncalled for – the man is not on trial. It’s going to make other developers wonder if they’re going to be treated with any respect when John Walker speaks to them now. This is not a good position to be in.

    • Frantics says:

      How rude can you be? What are you even on about? Can’t really see much meaning here other than a lot of insults. Are you trolling? Nah I’m not a whiny twat and I’ll stick up for PM as much as I want! Doesn’t mean I have any issue with JW but showing respect and friendliness isn’t any of the stuff you say. Like the guy above me said all of this can be done without being nasty about it, not just this interview but everyone on the steam forums and such too. Very tired of people calling PM a serial con-artist etc, so many of his games are the REAL deal, and I didn’t like the tone or content one bit of this interview. Back in the day people knew how to rib on him a bit for the stuff he wanted to put in fable without this nasty hyperbolic hysteria that emerges on forums whenever anything happens. Just because people like you think it’s cool to say all this rude shit to Molyneux now doesn’t mean everyone has to join in. I’m glad so many people are defending PM here, if no-one was doing that it would be sad. On the reverse think calling for John to be fired and all this is utterly over the top in the opposite way.

      Also please stop saying truth unto power. You are not sticking it to the man by insulting people here. The problems with modern society stretch far beyond simply blaming bankers and corporations. PM is not exactly a bastion of capitalism anyway. Peter’s a legend!

    • garisson says:

      Calling it as I see it, don’t get your panties in a bunch.

  20. Peeveepee says:

    Honestly RPS, I think you can add Peter to the list of people you’ll never interview again, right next to Blizzard after that ridiculous interview. If I were a game dev I would now think twice before doing any interview with you.

    You come to THE PROFESSIONAL AND WELL-REPUTE PRESS to tell them something cool about the game project you’re working on, and instead you meet a psychopath throwing personal insults at you for two hours, depressing the last crap out of you. How messed up is that?

    I think if it was anyone but Peter this interview would be cancelled right after your first question, and the company in question would never work with your site again.

    • Frank says:

      I would hope this is the last we hear of Molyneux full stop (not just here).

      • James says:

        I beleive he has done 3 interviews since his ‘last interview’ – I wouldn’t have much hope.

  21. Peeveepee says:

    And honestly, John, who are you?

    You’re a writer for a game news website. The person you’re talking to is a respectable game developer with a large amount of successful projects, a 30 freaking years of experience, and a tremendous passion to his work.

    It is NOT your job to teach him game development and project management. It is NOT your job to ask how and where he spends his free time. It is certainly NOT your job to throw insults and accusations at him for any reason.

    This isn’t an interview. This is bloody Gamer Gate.

  22. Premium User Badge

    bokkiedog says:

    “You come to THE PROFESSIONAL AND WELL-REPUTE PRESS to tell them something cool about the game project you’re working on”

    Wow. So many little tossers here whose minds have been so constrained and dessicated that they honestly believe that the Press’s job is to be Pravdas to the every whim of a corporation. What a terrible generation.

  23. frame says:

    Shame on you, John Walker. Nobody deserves to get grilled like that and then just publish the whole conversation. Total dick move.

    • Premium User Badge

      bokkiedog says:

      Frame: Boo hoo hoo. The conman got “grilled” and, as agreed, the conversation was published. CRY ME A RIVER.

  24. Frank says:

    Thanks for that, John.

    The circles he talks himself through are incredible. He expects everyone to ignore time frames, budgets and plans reported in the KS. Instead, we’re supposed to think:

    * Oh, I know that this budget isn’t enough. I can simply go through the math or “economics” and see they’ll run out in no time flat.
    * Oh, I can see they’ll need a publisher. Sure, they said they will not get one, but hey, anyone could see this coming.
    * Sure, I can see Peter saying that they’re working on these things right now, but simple common sense tells me they are not and cannot do them. Also, the developers themselves say that.

    Finally, he reaches a real low when he points to the hard work the team do to excuse his terrible management of the project and its financing. Their hard work has absolutely nothing to do with whether he has been lying.

  25. Premium User Badge

    bokkiedog says:

    Hehe, Sulph. Just the sort of little cringey forelock tugger I had in mind. Listen to yourself, you PATHETIC SERF:

    “a reputable website”
    “poor form”
    “uncalled for”
    “It’s going to make other developers wonder if they’re going to be treated with any respect”

    You’re the sort of kid who got his first hardon thinking the blurb on an Innocent Smoothy was coming on to him.

    • Sulph says:

      Aw, you’re not going to be able to respond to anything in any coherent fashion while you’re snorting the dessicated remains of serf brains laced with the dried spunk you from your own excitement at getting just the sort of attention you wanted, are you? Have at it, me ol’ paddle-pop.

      Got to do something to distract yourself from the grim reality of this particular day for you, I’m sure. <3

      • Sulph says:

        P.S. Also, I wish I had a goddamn forelock.

        • Premium User Badge

          bokkiedog says:

          You should certainly grow one. It’ll be useful for all that “respect” you’re so keen to show your corporate “betters”.

  26. Premium User Badge

    bokkiedog says:

    Look, you schmucks, if you REALLY want to attack John for some despicable revelation of his, then do so because he admitted on the last Rum Doings that he doesn’t like Frozen!

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      John, please stop sockpuppeting already. It’s sad.

  27. Wauffles says:

    John, I don’t know whether Twitter has screwed with you so much that your default level of discourse is shreiking, red faced hysteria and personal insults but this was a bit much.

  28. vahnn says:

    I normally can’t stand reading interviews with developers and such. It always seems like scripted interviews with canned questions designed to have the developers spew the same propaganda for their game that can already he is seen all over the web. It always feels like a waste of time to read.

    this interview was f****** fantastic. You held Molyneux up to the flame and hold no punches and spared no feelings. Your direct approach was very refreshing and something these types of interviews in this industry needed.

    Bravo, bravo!

    There was a lot of emotion on both ends, and hell, on my end as well! I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

    Now I know Molyneux is a passionate human being, and now I know about Godus, which had slipped under my radar. Think I’ll have a look at that now.

  29. drivetheory says:

    the majority of this interview is full of questions that should have been asked when Godus was either 90% complete or 22cans was filing Chapter 11, plain and simple

    It’s full of backward chaining, I bet John Walker started the conversation with the intended headline of “Peter Molyneux is a pathological liar.” and only changed the headline after Peter said what he did.

    I’m not defending Molyneux for his failures in predicting the budgeting of time or money or making promises he thought at the time would be easy to keep but rather calling out John Walker for going into the conversation with an existing conclusion and working his way backwards from it…

    Asking tough questions is one thing- this interview is something else.

    You know who to this day NEVER delivered on a promised game- Gabe Newell…

    Half-Life 2 Episode 3 is slowly but surely inching it’s way towards being a decade overdue…
    (and will never exist anyway but instead be replaced by Half-Life 3)

    But than again I’d rather have no Half-Life 3 than a disappointing Half Life 3.

    I’d rather have a fantastic Godus in 2016 than a disappointing Godus in 2013.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      You are aware that you, in fact, have a disappointing Godus in 2015?

    • simrex says:

      @drivetheory, the difference with HL3 is that Valve didn’t take over £500,000 off trusting fans to make HL3 by promising the moon on a stick just to get their money for the PC game while intending all along to focus on HL3 iOS/Android edition with micro-transactions…

      • drivetheory says:

        @Dawngreeter & @simrex

        right, but once again, the game is not done and judgement on promises filled or unfulfilled should be reserved until either the game is done or 22cans files for bankruptcy.

        as far as the iOS bit that was simply a means of getting money and I’ll forgive him for that, why? because what would you do if you needed more money to finish development of a game? If a publisher doesn’t impose DRM or take away any creative control what do you care?… sounds like outrage for the sake of outrage.

        Being that the project was kickstarted in December 2012 and here we are in January 2015 it hasn’t even been 3 years (a pretty much de facto standard development cycle for most respectable PC games). Did he royally screw up saying it would be done in under a year, absolutely.

        There are dozens of articles of interviews with developers on the internet talking about previous games they released that: went over the proposed budget, had to be delayed months or years, were released buggy as hell, weren’t a functional product until 2 months from the release date, yet despite all this upon release the games were pretty damn good.

        I’ll say it once more, at such point when Godus is released and promises are still NOT kept then you bring the wood and I’ll bring the nails and we’ll crucify Peter Molyneux together.

  30. revan says:

    Sheesh, John, do you have a history of working for Her Majesty’s intelligence service? I was sweating while reading this. Can’t imagine how it was for Peter. Can’t say I’m sorry for him because he landed himself in this predicament by making outlandish claims and promises, and not keeping them. But he also doesn’t strike me as someone who does these things out of malice. It’s more like he has a vision but no concept what it takes to make it a reality.

    Also agree on backer refunds. Those should have been already done. Two years is way to long a time to wait for something you’ve paid money for. I do have a question. What is this God of Gods feature and how has Peter screwed Bryan over it?

  31. captain nemo says:

    A naive oaf and a shriefing bully. A sad spectacle

  32. Soylent says:

    Wow, you’re the Anderson Cooper of gaming interviews. But you probably know that Peter won’t agree to another one. You might want to tone it down a *little* or you’ll get such a reputation that people won’t ever do an interview with you.

    Peter was overdue for getting railed, but at this point he’s become irrelevant like “Duke Nukem Forever”. There are many others that deserve a good lashing, don’t scare them off yet

  33. fredc says:

    John, how much did you actually put towards the kickstarter? Because it it wasn’t several faaasand pahnds, don’t you think it’s time to go outside and get some exercise, maybe take up a new hobby?

    I contributed £20 or so to 22 cans via kickstarter and evidently it didn’t work out. Not because Molyneaux ran off to Ecuador with my money, but because the project went badly wrong (sure, probably because of him). £20 John, it’s not that big of a fucking deal. You could have said “is Godus a bit shit Peter?” “Yes John, embarrassingly enough it is.” “Thank you for confirming everyone else’s impression Peter”.

    See where I’m going with this?

  34. nottaj says:

    Registered an account just to say that this is fucking disgusting. I’m exclusively a PC gamer, I have no investment with Molyneux, I haven’t played a game from him since Fable, I’m not likely to play another Molyneux game, but I’m sure as shit never going to take RPS seriously ever again. This is not journalism. This is a joke.

    There’s more evidence in this interview of RPS lying than Molyneux, in the form of denying an agenda of shit flinging.

    Peter Molyneux is hurting the reputation of Peter Molyneux. You’re hurting the reputation of gaming journalism as a practice.

    Took some forethought and registered with a 10minutemail account so I never get any shit emails from you either.

    I don’t know what you get out of practices like this, but I hope it’s a good deal of ad revenue or something similar because I wouldn’t hire you to write anything anywhere after reading this

    Get objective or fucked.

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      Don’t be fucking ridiculous. This is the kind of thing journalism NEEDS to do once in a while. It’s called being a hard hitter. Jeremy Paxman succeeded for this reason, and this article will too.

      Peter Molyneux has done a lot of bullshitting, and this time he did it with people’s money in his pocket prior to releasing a product. He’s full of shit, a snake oil salesman, and needs to be asked the hard questions in order for people to be able to see what he is. It’s not like he didn’t agree to be there, if he can’t take hard questions he probably shouldn’t have sat in a room with an editor for a website that has spent the last week slagging him off.

      Get objective or fucked indeed. Get a fucking grip and live in the real world please. The truth is not a nice place but it’s needed.

      • garisson says:

        Yeah, just like this NEEDS to be done. Ben Kuchera shaking down David Jaffe:

    • Numberatu says:

      You are an absolute child. Live in the real world, as someone has already said. You don’t need to be some sort of hard-headed bastard to see that a lot more of this kind of interview is needed- not any nastiness, but a willingness to possibly burn bridges with a dev to find out what the hell they’re doing.

      Nothing you read in the media is ever objective. Ever. The newspapers correspond to explicit points of view. Sky would flick to fox news lite if the laws were changed, and has to settle for choosing how and what stories to report on. The BBC has spent the last twenty years steadily fixing a visible left wing bias into one that only emerges in nuances of language when dealing with issues that their writers possess some feeling about, despite visible and careful attempts at pure objectivity. Channel 4 leans heavily on the liberal scale of interests. Don’t be so utterly dim as to condemn one of the first time’s I’ve ever seen someone actually hold an overpromising, fantasist of a CEO to account.

      Read some serious, combative interviews that got information, as well as some careful interviews with the same result. The only reason why the tone is different is (unless the journo screwed up) to ensure that the maximum of information, either positive or negative, can come out. John took the risk of assuming that Molyneux would provide more information if challenged and hammered than if he was polite. He was right.

  35. Ridiculous Human says:

    It’s interesting that one of the prevailing comments in the discussion surrounding this interview is that Molyneux was “an easy target”. Raises the question of why it’s taken this long for someone to properly grill him.

    • FataMorganaPseudonym says:

      Well, maybe it’s because nobody has had the required lack of courtesy and professionalism necessary to get it done, until big hero John Walker here stepped up to the plate finally.

      • Emeraude says:

        I’d say, more because no one in the industry wants to risk burning bridges with the PR people and the developers for fear of going broke.

        Game journalism by and large *is* a subsidized , outsourced form of PR.

        I don’t even mean all game journalists are sell outs, that’s not the issue.

        But they’re in the business of selling data. And if developers and publishers unanimously stop to communicate with them, then they have little to no data to sell. Apart from tests. Companies don’t have an obligation to public communication and accountability.

        So from their point of view, being PR mouthpieces is a way to drive traffic to their sites/publications while keeping the communication gears greased, to hopefully have proper data to share – the insider scoop, the anonymous testimony, the exclusive accesses which can lead to real journalism..

        I guess my issue with this is, if this is the only option, if game journalists have to sell you a gallon of shit to serve you an ounce of truth, then at it’s core its a plutocratic enterprise of little to no worth for the consumers. Which is partly why I sometime think it’s in such a dire state right now: people understand the real value of what’s being sold to them, and are not buying into it.

  36. SuziQ says:

    Since everyone and their mother is referencing Molyneux’s “decade of lies and fraud” without ever saying something tangible, i’d really like a good number of examples please. Does nobody see the difference between a lie with malicious intent, and features/ideas that don’t end up working out two years later? Which happens in… every game development ever. Note I’m not talking about Godus here, that one is unacceptable.

  37. Chupacabra- says:

    Can’t wait on your interview with Tim Schafer, John.
    Nice blog btw

  38. Freud says:

    It’s like the tale of the scorpion and the frog, where the scorpion get the frog to take him over a river on his back. Midway across, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog asks the scorpion why he did that, since they both will die. The scorpion replies: “I could not help myself. It is my nature.”

    This interview or the negative attention will not change PM. He believes himself to be the victim. He truly believes the journalists are trying to run him out of the business, perhaps out of habit of having ‘press’ act more as cheerleaders than watchdogs in the past.

    He’s not seen a penny from me in 15 years and won’t in the future.

  39. Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

    ‘…but I would say that anybody who is creating something new and original and different, which Godus is…’

    No it isn’t!! It’s fucking Populous!! Again!! YOU MADE POPULOUS WITH HALF A MILLION POUNDS

  40. Uninspired Cup says:

    Very uncompromising interview: riveting.

  41. Bahumat says:

    At the end of the day, after digesting this, I think that it’s simultaneously one of the best and one of the worst things Rock Paper Shotgun has ever published.

    And to be honest I think that the price on the value of RPS’s brand is too high for the value of holding Molyneaux over the fire.

    Hoping this doesn’t damage RPS in the long term.

    • toshiro says:

      I share your sentiment. Most of all, I really dislike the craziness that this has brought out.

  42. gnodab says:

    Well, I took two days to digest the “interview” and to think about how to start off, this comment. I still have no clue where to start, so please accept my apology for a probably unstructured and rambling post.
    First off I am not a fan of Peter Molyneux, though I am a lifelong PC gamer of some thirty plus years and as such I do appreciate PM’s contributions.
    I am, or was, a fan of John and RPS however. I have been reading RPS pretty much from day one and up until around the time Quins left it was start-up page and I’d easily spent one two hours reading through it every day. I am also a fan of the rumdoings podcast, although I never left a review, since I also don’t own apple products ;)
    As a fan and longtime reader I can barely express how sad this interview made me. I still can’t comprehend what the point of it all was.
    I mean starting out an interview with an insult is just splendid form. Then pressing on with the bullying and flat out refusing to listen to or comprehend explanations was just insane (for example: when Peter explains why the server/publisher stuff needs fixing and John simply declares the answer irrelevant because the PC version doesn’t have a Publisher). I literally cried out “what’s wrong with you?” several times while reading. I also fail to see the issue John keeps pressing. So you want Peter to say that he is a terrible person and a compulsive liar? Because that seems to be the only red line I could find here. The whole thing reads like a youtube comments section or angry forum posts. In the end I actually felt pretty impressed by Peter Molyneux for enduring this “hard hitting journalism” and for being able to keep calm and actually go on to offer insightful responses none the less.
    I think the worst parts are the deliberately interspersed “laughs” from John’s side. Those just come over as incredibly hateful and arrogant and elevate the spectacle from being merely unprofessional to becoming frankly appalling. An apology would be very much appreciated!

    Again I am really trying to understand what happened here.
    One explanation would be that John is basically a terrible person and a complete hack. Having had the pleasure to become acquainted with John’s diverse electronic offerings, I feel confident to rule this possibility out.
    Or maybe RPS has reached rockbottom and they decided Molyneux is a compulsive liar would be great clickbait?
    Maybe John really thought Peter Molyneux was abandoning the project or committing some terrible crimes against humanity?
    I dunno. When I saw the Godus kickstarter I had a little chuckle and that was that. Everybody knows Peter can’t hit deadlines and gets excited like a schoolboy about everything he does. That is why he has been the bud of jokes for the last twenty years, but this is also why he has always been interesting. He is incredibly passionate and creative and probably never should run a company by himself. So he is pretty much Tim Schaeffer, only slightly more productive and humble. If you decide to kickstart a project of his you can be 100% sure that it will be delayed and you have a 50/50 chance of it being amazing or merely competent. But at least he will finish it. Eventually.
    But being a responsible consumer you either decide to take the bet or you don’t. And with Kickstarter being Kickstarter, you don’t have any guarantees. You did not buy a game! You decided that you wanted to help a developer to create a project that interests you. If it succeeds, brilliant. You enabled a developer to fund a project they couldn’t fund themselves and in return got something that you couldn’t create yourself. If it fails, well bummer. Kickstarter is not Steam. You are not purchasing anything. You are merely betting. As long as a developer doesn’t run off with the money or decides to spent the money on partying with his friends while abandoning his project (SBDF9 anyone?), you haven’t been wronged. Merely disappointed.
    Pulling the torches out because someone failed to deliver on a kickstarter is just silly. Sure if a project turns out to be a scam, I’d appreciate journalists uncovering the workings of it. But if a project simply doesn’t deliver, or is slow to deliver, well what is the point? Has our sense of entitlement as gamers grown so far out of reach that our putting 10 or 20 or god forbid 50$ into a failed project is the greatest tragedy which justifies us in bullying the developer? You know the guys who spend the last couple of years, working day and night to realize the project in the first place. Yes they obviously deserve to be punished for not succeeding! They might have spent years of their lives working on the project, but I pledged 5$. I need to be recompensed! And you Peter Molyneux kneel before me and say “I am a pathological liar”!

    The only explanation which makes any sense to me would be that John was just pissed in general and chose Peter Molyneux as the catalyst to vent his frustrations. Maybe he just was fed up with the “crisis” in game journalism and decided to show everybody that he could do “hard hitting investigative journalism”. But that’s not it man…

    In closing I can only reiterate the old saying: Never attribute to malice what can sufficiently be explained by incompetence. Maybe we should just stick with this.
    And I would be really, really glad if John could remove the Social Justice Ranger Cape and show himself as the splendid guy I am sure he is, by admitting that he went overboard and simply apologizing.

  43. garisson says:

    This article is a shining example of why game Journos are so poorly regard. “Are you a pathological liar?”

    Real classy.

    • Jimbo says:

      On the contrary. They’re poorly regarded because the first question is usually a blowjob.

  44. Emeraude says:

    A bit late on this, but several things I’ve been pondering upon reading the article and comments:

    – I think the opening question was actually perfect; it’s the rest – despite the preparation, that wasn’t. It lacks focus and lets Mr Molyneux control the framing of the conversation to a point he shouldn’t have. The question immediately gave Molyneux what he was getting into, and a way out. And it was a fair question to ask in light of Mr Molyneux’s documented history of lies. Not just over-promising and under-delivering, but actually lying.

    – If I ahd to qualify the interview overall, it would be more amateurish than unprofessional. It’s trying for something, and does not quite iht what it aimed for. But I find nothing intrinsically wrong with the aim.

    – One thing the people asking why Molyneux and not some big shot should keep in mind: anyone big enough in this industry would have cut the interview at the first question, or the interview would have been cut by PR. That’s why you don’t have those interviews. They do not happen. I’m conflicted about Molyneux’s willingness to go on anyway. Because as admirable as it looks to me, it also looks just as much symptomatic of the pathological behavior that I do believe he’s been displaying for a while now.

    – That Molyneux didn’t walk out, or wasn’t made to walk out by PR (I seem to remember the last PR person working for him mentioning being invariably verbally abused into submission by PM when trying to reign him in) is, I feel the need to emphasize this, a rarity in the business, and it was a rare chance to see a candid exchange that, for all its apparent violence, was I think less aggravating than, say, the Guardian piece with its affected clean and professional tone, which overall I find a lot more violent and dehumanizing when you’re down to it when properly employed. Here we have Molyneux in his own words. And it’s not a pretty sight. But it elicits as much empathy as horror.

    – I think people are confusing bullying and being held to your own faults. People are trying to paint PM as the victim here, but he’s the one with all the cards, the actual power: he can cut the interview whenever wanted, he’s the one with the money and social status, he’s – apart from maybe for the Kickstarter backer rewards – not legally liable here. Mr Walker is a nobody when compared to Mr Molyneux. Not the other way round.

    – There seems to be some form of tribal defense mechanism at work in the negative reactions (not saying that’s all there is to them, I don’t think so, but there does seem to be a lot of it to me). People are empathizing to the angle of ‘this could have been me”. And to a point what I find sobering is how much it paints the culture of lies as central to the game software industry as it exists now. On all levels. From bullshots to publishers outright over-promising to investors on how many sales they can expect from a given game to developers setting deadlines they know they can’t meet to bonuses promised but planned on never having to be paid to software the audience is promised will work properly and never does.
    What the icon Molyneux being chastised suggests is the the whole current ethos being chastised. And as Molyneux, many people seem to prefer the non-answers “well it’s hard, it’s not us”. They’re one of the same, only at a different level.

  45. gebbet says:

    f. that. we always see SHITTY GAMES. all the same. underdeveloped, half-assed, lots of left out features games. hell LOOK AT LAST DRAGON AGE ANNOUNCEMENT TRAILER N’ SHIT, AND THEN, THE PRODUCT. sry for caps, i’m a bit high. anyway, every single developer including the indie ones we love so much does this. this guy is only honest, that’s his problem. we are all human, we’re all like this. i’ll do this, i’ll do that. but in the end, we can’t, so we stick to what we do. this guy IS TRYING. that’s his problem, AND he is keeping his PURITY, he is still NAIVE, after all these year.
    all this article did was to convert me to his side. so, thanks, John. i hope this was your aim. and don’t mind me ranting like this; THIS IS BRILLIANT JOURNALISM, this is why i love this site. so yeah, thanks y’all. cheers :]

    by the way, mind that dragon age promise/product stuff i’ve said, and think about CD Projekt RED. THROW YOUR MONEY TO THE SCREEN TO CD Projekt RED. because witcher is dope.
    .peace

    • gebbet says:

      +This is why should also love Romero. We’re ALL his bitches.

  46. path_ethic says:

    My first reaction is that this is a shite interview, but on reflection, it’s not really. It’s just a style of interviewing I don’t really like or agree with, in the same sense that there is a style of parenting which involves slapping your children around the head when they do the wrong thing. And just as I don’t subscribe to that style of parenting because it seems reactive and emotionally immature, so I also find this interview unnecessarily combative.

    There were a few comments upthread which noted that John has been in games journalism for many years now, so I guess I’d expect better from someone with such extensive experience. If John were that upset about the issue, perhaps someone else should have done the interview? I also agree that It plays to the culture of public shaming, which leads me to believe that that’s just what RPS set out to do. It’s just a pity that they couldn’t have gone about this differently. If RPS is as influential site as it would like to think, then it might be able to lead by example, perhaps raising the level and quality of internet journalism instead of mudding around in the gutter, and show us that they can get the kinds of answers they want without such an aggressive line of questioning.

  47. Numberatu says:

    I’m only posting because of the pathetic “how dare you be so mean” comments. The tone was not sympathetic. It was not friendly. It was absolutely the right thing to do in the face of someone with such a hilariously overblown reputation. This was not about kicking someone when they were down, this was asking someone what the hell was going on.
    As for all the comments complaining about bias, it’s in favour of the consumer. Journalists do not operate from an ivory tower. You can expect impartiality on TV if you’re in the UK, but that doesn’t mean that a gaming journalist confronted by an inveterate fantasist has to soft soap the guy. Moreover, John’s job is not to make the damn game for him, nor to help him out. I was impressed by how quickly it took to break past the traditional blathering, the ignoring of evidence and attempts at “poor little me”, and how quickly asking “what the hell is going on” was rewarded with conspiracy theories and a bona fide victim complex. It’s never his fault.

    Once again, well done.

  48. John Easy says:

    Everything has been said. I learned nothing from this so called “interview” and I really expected more from an open-minded media like RPS than kindergarten bullying…

  49. Uninspired Cup says:

    That was an extraordinary interview; it might not have been WaterGate, but the tension felt on the same level reading it.

  50. Jim Dandy says:

    I’ve gotta say I thought this was an ugly piece of work. John, you can and should do better.
    Ethics 101: the global burden of arseholes is not reduced by behaving like an arsehole. If one attempts to moderate the arseholery of another by being an arsehole then at best the sum total of arseholes remains unchanged. Incidentally, I believe this is pretty much what Jesus was on about, once you’ve stripped away all the space zombie guff.