Last year, following mounting problems with Godus and a particularly rough interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, 22Cans founder Peter Molyneux said he was done talking to the press.
"It's over, I will not speak to the press again," he told The Guardian.
He held onto that promise of almost a year, but he's back now, talking to Eurogamer about his new way forward.
"It was tempting to retire," he explained. "The solution to the problem is to do a great game rather than talk about doing a great game. Let's put those two things together. That countered any childish feelings of saying, oh fuck it then I'm not going to do anything again."
"I had the chance to stand back and I tried to get to the core of what that journalist was saying, which was, you're over promising and under delivering. What's the solution? Here, a year later, is the solution."
That solution involved Molyneux stepping back from the CEO position, a role now filled by former FairPlay Media CEO Simon Phillips. Phillips is the business guy, keeping the lights on and making sure games and features actually come out when promised. Molyneux is back to being a designer and coder again. His fix is to do the opposite of his previous status quo: make a game first, then show it to the world. Molyneux hunkered down with a small team of 11 people (including himself) and re-thought Godus.
The result is Godus Wars, a single-player RTS game currently on Steam Early Access for $14.99. According to Molyneux, Godus Wars is what came of going back to the original Kickstarter campaign and figuring out what Godus should've become. It's you and your followers, waging war against other gods. Battles are meant to be played in around 20 minutes and the card system from the original Godus returns to act as buffs and offer additional abilities to the player. The collection of belief has been streamlined so you can just worry about the strategy.
Godus Wars is a standalone title with a price tag, but if you backed or purchased the original title, you should already have the game in your Steam library. ("Should" being the operative word. As of this writing, I have yet to see Godus Wars in my Steam library.) The older Godus store page and client is being minimized in favor of the new Godus Wars client; when you launch Godus Wars, you'll have the ability to choose between it and the original, zen-like Godus.
The cynical person in me says Godus Wars isn't just an add-on to the original Steam title because 22Cans is hoping for a fresh start. The original Godus has 5,437 reviews, most of which are negative. In contrast, the new Godus Wars page is mostly review free. I'm unsure if getting a Steam review reset was the intention, but it does seem to be an added benefit.
Godus Wars' development is completely focused on PC this time, instead of 22Cans trying to split its attention between PC and mobile.
"What were were taking on was this massive task of developing a game for PC and Mobile platforms. Those are completely different audiences with different likes, dislikes and different mechanisms," Molyneux wrote in an announcement post for the game.
In the past, some felt that perhaps people were too harsh on Molyneux. I agree with that to a point. (The RPS interview was a hard read.) Despite that, I believe when you're accepting money to develop a game, you should deliver on your promises for the most part. Things change in game development, that's understandable. Dreams and wishes are over here, and the product you release is over there. If they meet perfectly, that's great, but it's rarely the norm. My issue is with saying you're going to make X and the delivering Y, means that Y needs to be absolutely amazing to make up for it. With Godus, that wasn't the case. Fans had every right to be angry with Molyneux.
So this is the new 22Cans and Peter Molyneux. Getting the work done and then talking about it. The current plan is adding multiplayer to Godus Wars and then the God of Gods mode, featuring Curiosity winner Bryan Henderson. Molyneux is also working on a small title called The Trail, but he's not talking about that until it's released.
"I've always talked to the press as a designer, and I think fundamentally that is a bit of a problem," Molyneux told Eurogamer. "A lot of the time the press are used to talking to people who really, carefully think through everything they say and probably have rehearsed it and gone through it with a fine-tooth comb to check for things. Whereas with me it just comes out. Sometimes it comes out with what I'm thinking at that particular moment. The idea of me hyping up a game, or talking about a game before it's available to the public, I just don't think it's going to work ever again. This interview does not mean me being back in the press. I don't have time to be honest with you. I'd much rather keep hunkered down."