Don’t Feel Sorry For Peter Molyneux

Don’t Feel Sorry For Peter Molyneux

When Peter Molyneux said he no longer had a reputation in the video industry, I wasn’t sure how to react. Part of me felt sorry for him, a fallen icon baring all to the internet. The cynical side of me disagreed with his claims, and wondered if it was all a front. I respect Peter Molyneux for his achievements, but a part of me can’t help but think his downfall was his own doing.

Peter Molyneux’s reputation has long been more of a joke, rather than esteemed. After a string of empty promises and awful games, it was hard to take Molyneux’s words seriously. His ambition is what defined him, and it always will, but in his later years, it was nothing but words. While Black & White 2 was a hot mess, the Fable franchise is perhaps the best example of decline of Molyneux’s image and reputation.


Heavy promises, huge ambitions and a large scale marketing campaign, Fable was meant to be the next big thing. In reality, Fable never hit the lofty heights Molyneux promised it would. While the first two entries were decent, the third was awful. It’s rare a game will fall victim to being overly designed, Fable 3 was a utter wreck. Simplified controls, simplified gameplay, scaled back in length and depth, Fable 3 was the first true stinker branded with Molyneux’s name.

The menu system is perhaps the best example of Molyneux’s ambition detracting from a game. The concept was good in theory, a hub in which the player could access everything they would ever need to access. In practice, it was a series of loading screens, frustration and convoluted methods to do simple things. The ambition did not match the execution, the menus became a main criticism of the game (a long with a long list of flaws) and Fable 3 faltered.

As the series went on, from Fable 1 through to 3, the goals and promises became grander and grander. Promises were rarely met, design flaws and limitations were present and clear in each entry, it’s what Peter Molyneux became known for. While his past works, such as Populous and Syndicate, were always hailed as classics, Molyneux never quite regained his prestige.

With his new reputation, Peter Molyneux seemed to embrace his ability of talking up a concept, only for it to never materialize. It’s odd that such a respected figure was so willing to take up a mantle, a mantle that came with a lot of parody and jokes. Molyneux was, at a time, one of the key voices in pushing Kinect, at the time known as Project Natal. Project Milo, headed by Molyneux, was a core element to Microsoft’s E3 2009 showing. Looking back at it, it’s hard to identify what was fact, and what was fiction.

The Milo demo was supposed to be a glimpse into what Natal could do. Milo reacted to the ‘player’, the ‘player’ reacted to Milo. A game that interacted with the player in the same way the player interacts with everyday people, it was groundbreaking. The problem is, Milo never came true, it remained as a ‘demo’ at E3 2009. Perhaps Milo was nothing more than the projections of what Molyneux wished Natal could be. What ever way you look at it, ‘Milo’ was another case of Molynuex not delivering.

Kinect/ Project Natal marks a curious point in Molyneux’s career. From ground breaking ambitions and promises, to a on rails Kinect spin-off of Fable. A piece of Hardware that Molyneux once showed off as the next big thing, was now the home of a medicore on rails shooter. The promises did not match the products. It casts a light on just how much the consumer could take seriously when Molyneux spoke. His words were once gospel, now people took them with a grain of salt.


After severing connections with Microsoft, Molyneux then went on to found his own studio, 22 Cans, as well becoming more vocal in the industry. With no ties to Microsoft, Molyneux declared Kinect ‘a joke’, which would of meant more if it wasn’t for the fact he was praising it less than 4 years ago. Adopting a pundit like role, Molyneux appeared across various video game sites. His comments on other games and tech often made little sense, nor were they relevant. The man once respected world wide for his ambitious creations, was now sat talking nonsense, with the robotic Ijustine.

His decline continued with the announcement of Curiosity. Listed as a ‘experimental’ video game, the reaction to it’s announcement was met with sheer confusion. As hard as he tried, very few people understood the concept, or the point, of Curiosity. The game boiled down to people clicking some blocks, with one ‘lucky winner’ earning themselves a special prize. The prize was won, and not many people cared. The prize was a Youtube video and a promise of being the sole ‘all-powerful god’ within 22 Cans next game. Curiosity was not a game, nor was it a experiment, it was just a piece of marketing for 22 Cans.

The final nail in the coffin was Godus. Molyneux, yet again, promised the world…and then jumped ship. After a successful Kickstarter in 2012, Godus missed various pledge goals and perks. The game, even in 2015, is barely finished. It’s a bare bones version of a game that hides behind pay walls and smoke and mirrors. The final Kickstarter hit a lofty £526,563, a heck a lot of money, and the game is still in a state of development to this day. 22 Cans have went on to say that they ”probably” won’t be able to make good on a number of promises they had previously made.

The worst part of the whole Godus affair is the Molyneux’s behavior. Having failed to produce anything of note, people began to become rightly annoyed with Godus and 22 Cans. Instead of explaining why promises had not been met, Molyneux said things like ”I take the bullying for the sake of making a great game”. As time went on, Molyneux started to blame Kickstarter, calling the crowd funding site a ‘destructive force‘. With his reputation and game in tatters, Molyneux did the honorable thing…he jumped ship and started working on something new.


From industry icon, to arguably a con merchant, Peter Molyneux damaged his name and his legacy. His tendency to over-promise things was cute at first, but when you throw in the likes of Kickstarter, it’s simply not acceptable. He does not deserve the sympathy so many are willing to give, this is a prime example of some betraying the trust of others. In a industry that is becoming more and more willing to shaft the consumer, the Godus affair takes the piss.

Molyneux could not even deliver on the promises made in Curiosity. The winner, Bryan Henderson, has all but been ignored by 22 Cans. The ‘life changing’ prize never materialized, nothing was said. Nothing but a lie, nothing but another Peter Molyneux lie.

When Peter Molyneux says ‘‘I haven’t got a reputation in this industry any more” he’s telling yet another lie. He has a reputation, and it’s unfortunately not a good. He failed to deliver, he failed to answer, he simply failed to be respectable. Much like a cowboy builder who doesn’t finish the job, Molyneux is now nothing more than a con artist.


Hopefully he can turn things around. Figure out how to resolve the issues around Godus. A creative, and brilliant mind, Molyneux has a lot to offer, but needs to readjust.




Sean Halliday

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