The Sad, Sad Story of Godus


I know there’s been enough sad stories going around, but this is one that I’ve been sitting on for a while, watching from the sidelines. It’s just  now finally blowing up in the face of those who should take responsibility for their mess, and I feel that the community’s ire is quite justified. The game I’m talking about is Godus, slated to be the “reinvention” of the god game genre, built on the name of the legendary Peter Molyneux.

This game was originally a Kickstarter project that was funded over 2 years ago and raised £526,563 total. It promised a lot of lofty, but very cool ideas including:


I was not one of the backers for this project, so I’m not writing this out of anger. In fact, while I own the game (haven’t played it yet), I spent about $1 of my own money to purchase it – I got it on a mega sale at GMG, where I had some credit built up.

I first saw Godus a few years back when it went on Steam sale. I was drawn to the title because I really liked the art style, and I enjoy god games. Then, I found out who was developing it, and my mind jumped back to hours of enjoying Populous on the SNES, and all the time I tried to put into Black & White.

I spent some time nosing around the Steam page, I saw quite a few negative reviews for it. So, I prodded deeper into the forums on Steam, and got to the heart of the community discontent.

Sculpting in Godus looks very pretty! But if you don’t have the god power to do it, what’s the point?

Apparently, Godus development started out on the right track. There was some battle, signs of the promised multiplayer, and it was shaping up to be some sort of early access god game for the PC. Then, suddenly, in the middle of developing the PC version, someone on the team got the idea that the game needed to become some kind of mobile game hybrid.

This included real-life timers that allowed you to only play the game so much in one sitting, the click-click-click-click Farmville syndrome to earn your god power back, sticker collections that you had to find to unlock new abilities, and shoehorning the beginning of an in-game Gem store… It was the Gem store that really blew up in their face, if I remember correctly, and the team quickly back-pedaled to remove it from the PC version.

By then, however, it was apparent that Godus mobile was becoming first and foremost. There was no sign of the promised hub world for multiplayer. The world that was touted to be as large as Jupiter in Peter’s interview was no where to be seen. The team tried to redesign the resource gathering system over and over in attempt to please the PC players… but the heart of it didn’t budge from that click-fest, wait-fest that you’d expect from a tablet game and not from something on the PC.

And in all this time, backers on Kickstarter haven’t seen a whiff of the rewards they were promised, not to mention a game that matched what was described as the project’s forefront. And the poor guy who won the Curiosity Cube contest, to become the God of Gods in Godus, has been left in limbo for over two years now. Really. Read that article. It’s something else.

Instead, they released the free mobile versions of Godus, which Peter has said in his newest semi-apology video is making the team a whole lot of money through micro transactions. This money should be going towards improving the now-mobile port PC version of Godus into a real PC game, right? Nope. Back in December, Peter admitted that he was shifting the team away from working on the incomplete Godus game for a new venture, called The Trail. Oh man… did the Godus forums on Steam blow up then.

That’s not the only thing to blow up. Do a Google search for Godus in the news and you’ll see that the media has finally picked up this story and is making it well known what kind of bait and switch has been played out here. I also saw Peter Molyneux trending on Twitter yesterday… and not in a good way.

They tried to apologize, but really, I think it’s making things worse.

So why am I writing this article? Because I’ve watched the evolution of this drama for quite a while, and I’m really sad to see how far Godus has fallen. I think there  are were plenty of passionate and good folks working on this game’s development, and I don’t envy the newly appointed designer, Konrad Naszynski, who is trying to see the original vision through.

Where will this end up? Who knows. But the gaming community is not going to let Peter get away unscathed, it seems. For that, I say, “Good on you!”

Update: This was written before THAT follow up interview at Paper, Rock, Shotgun. After reading that, some of my opinions of Peter have changed. I still don’t agree with what’s happening with the handling of Godus. But at this point, I’m not even sure if the poor guy knows what he’s communicating to the press half the time. I feel a bit sorry for him. 🙁 


  1. Peter Molyneux is a long-time has-been who regularly attempts to recapture past glory the same way Don Quixote attempted to capture windmills. Pretty much nowadays the only reason anyone wants to work with him is to ride his coattails. Then they find out that he has become little more than an albatross to be worn around their necks.

    The last Molyneux game I bought was at the end of my “buy all the games” phase: Black & White. It was terrible and got all of about 10 hours of play before I moved on to a game that was actually fun.

    Thinking about starting my own PSA for Molyneux games: “Just say ‘neux'”!

    1. Yeah, Black & White was also my last game I played from him. I remember thinking it had all the elements that I should have loved, but for some reason, it was just tedious and frustrating. The creature never worked the way it should have. 🙁

      I never got into the Fable franchise, but I’ve heard discontent there, too.

      1. I’ve played and enjoyed the first Fable quite a bit. However, also for that game, I was told that Mr. Molyneux is legendary mostly for his ability to hype a game by promising far more than he is actually capable of delivering.

  2. I’d considered getting Godus–The old Populous games were some of my favorites when I was young, and I felt like Black & White _could have been_ a great game, if a bit more work had been put into the gameplay instead of experimenting with the ‘immersion’ factor of the interface and such. But it sounds like it’s a good thing I didn’t.

    1. Maybe one day I’ll give Godus a play, but I’ve kept waiting and waiting because I’ve heard (over and over) that the next patch will make things so much better. Doesn’t sound like we’re missing very much, though.

    1. You’re welcome. I wish I didn’t have to write things like this, to be honest. I’d have loved Godus to live up to its vision. It could have been something awesome, I think.

  3. Just to add an addendum. While I may have a bit of a hot/cold relationship as a gamer playing Molyneux titles, I still believe the man deserves a lot of respect for his accomplishments. I also abhor the ridiculous treatment he is getting in the gaming press this week. The Rock-Paper-Shotgun interview on Monday is an example of so-called “game journalism” at its worst. The interviewer opened the interview with him, literally asking him if he was a “pathological liar”.

    I don’t care how big a flop any game is; you don’t ask someone in a frickin’ interview if he a pathological liar. People deserve a modicum of respect, especially if you have any expectation of them continuing to give you any of their time for an interview. Fortunately, Peter demonstrated that he is still a class act as a human being with a modicum of dignity, unlike his interviewer, John Walker.

    1. I agree. I was pretty shocked when I read that myself.

      (I’ve posted this comment elsewhere, but it sums up my feelings on that interview in particular, so I’m reposting it here.)

      I’m really torn on the situation after that Molyneux interview. At first, I thought it was a positive thing that this whole Godus fiasco has finally been brought to light.

      But my thoughts changed when I saw Molyneux in this interview. I’m not 100% sympathetic to what he’s done. But the more I read it (and I read it all) the more I felt I was seeing a man so wrapped up in his own thoughts and fantasies that he doesn’t have the capability to separate them from truth and the reality of what one can do with gaming technology.

      Do I think he really believes everything he says when he says it? Absolutely. But that’s also very concerning that he can get so worked up with his vision of creativity that he can’t ground himself long enough to question the possibility of what may or may not come to pass.

      If I feel bad for him, it’s because I feel like he “knows not what he does”… or rather says… He can’t seem to keep it straight, not even within the space of one interview here. That doesn’t mean he should be let off the hook by any means, or that I have any faith or interest in his future endeavors.

      It was an interesting (and sad) psychological glimpse into what makes Molyneux tick. And somewhat disturbing.

      1. Molyneux is a dreamer; he always has been. I think the difference is, in the past, he was more connected to / involved with the engineering part of game development, rather than only the philosophy/design parts. Back then, he was forced to temper his starry-eyed design idealism with the realities of actually making a shipping product. Nowadays, I think he is either insulated from it, or insulates himself from it (probably a bit of both), and no one is there to keep him connected to the current realities of implementation. It is very intimidating to deal with producers in general, let alone one with his pedigree.

        I think, going forward, he needs to partner with some strong, grounded developers, and relegate himself to the role of “design consultant”. It would fit better with his “wise elder” status, and it might staunch some of the profuse bleeding his reputation is suffering.

        Of course, who am I to make such suggestions to one such as him? }:=P

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