Skip to main content

Peter Molyneux warns of the "destructive" nature of crowdfunding

GODUS Volcano Concept

Peter Molyneux pulled in $820,000 in the Kickstarter for Godus a couple of years ago, but if he had to do it all over again, he'd do things differently. Crowdfunding can be "very destructive to the final quality of a game," he said in a recent interview, because it encourages developers to make wild promises that they ultimately can't deliver.

The irony, of course, is that Molyneux has earned a reputation over the past several years for doing just that. Curiosity: What's Inside the Cube?, for instance, promised a "life-changing" secret inside the center of a cube, which actually turned out to be temporary "godhood" in his next game, Godus. Godus may or may not be the final, "defining game" of his career, but it wasn't received particularly well, and comments on the most recent Kickstarter update, promoting the Steam Early Access release, have not been universally kind.

Much of Godus' troubles, Molyneux told Digital Spy, arise from the fact that its development didn't follow the path that backers expected. To avoid that in future (and entirely hypothetical) Kickstarters, he said he'd seek crowdfunding support near the end of development rather than at the beginning, so that potential backers could see and even play what they were getting into before throwing any money at it. But he also noted that the all-or-nothing nature of Kickstarter itself creates an existential pressure for developers that can force them to commit to things they can't actually deliver.

"There's this overwhelming urge to over-promise because it's such a harsh rule: If you're one penny short of your target then you don't get it," he said. "And of course in this instance, the behavior is incredibly destructive, which is, 'Christ, we've only got 10 days to go and we've got to make £100,000, for f*ck's sake, let's just say anything'. So I'm not sure I would do that again."

He's certainly not wrong, but he might be the wrong person to be making the point.

Andy Chalk
Andy covers the day-to-day happenings in the big, wide world of PC gaming—the stuff we call "news." In his off hours, he wishes he had time to play the 80-hour RPGs and immersive sims he used to love so much.