It’s really been a slow year filled with radio silence for Peter Molyneux and his team of 22cans. After a disastrous Godus launch on Early Access riddled with negative reviews on Steam and a controversial interview forcing the veteran designer to seize all communication with press outlets, the British team has struggled to keep up with their promises in regards to Kickstarter stretch goals and backer rewards. All in all, it seemed like Godus was finally dying down.
Well, you’ve probably heard of the news by now – Godus Wars now being officially out on Early Access as a separate game, offering the “long-awaited” combat aspect to everyone’s favourite god-game. Yes, the very combat that was supposed to be part of the game pitched 4 years ago is now getting its own release, and by that I mean a bare-bones, generally simple to play build lacking most promised features. At the same time though, this standalone game is free to all original supporters of the campaign, as announced by a Kickstarter update bringing the news forth. Surely, the very sight of free content would satisfy the hunger of thousands of disgruntled backers… Right?
Not really. In fact, taking a quick glance at the comments accompanying the update in question, you’ll mostly see angry sighs of frustration calling out the developers on the wide variety of stretch goals and promises that still haven’t been met. More specifically, questions regarding the still to be seen Linux/ DRM-free versions of the game are the most common ones, and in reality this isn’t a shocker considering how those have been supposedly worked on for so long now. Unsurprisingly, the Kickstarter update also does not even mention the word Linux.
Keeping in mind that Godus wasn’t really a crowd-pleaser (and this is me putting it very mildly), it’s logical to see the surplus of responses coming both from Kickstarter backers and Steam users being less than positive. The general response seems to lead to the understanding that not a lot of people really wanted combat to be a central aspect of Godus, much less one receiving a fully-fledged version focusing to this type of play. In a way, it seems that Molyneux and his team once again decided to disregard things like unmet backer rewards and promised stretch goals, instead deciding to create a separate Godus game that first-time users must pay for.
And once again, I think it doesn’t help that Godus Wars is being released on Early Access. In all honesty, it would’ve made sense for the game to be in an almost finished state by now – sure, there’s potentially a lot of balancing work to be done, but the backbone of the original Godus has been there for quite some time. Instead, the game’s current version offers little more than a clicking marathon in a buggy world stripped out of any resemblance of fun strategizing. Just to give you an example, out of the 50 different unit types being promised for Godus Wars, only 2 can be seen in the update. To make things worse, the game’s second playable continent was originally presented in the form of paid DLC, which was later made free as a result of the considerable amount of public backlash.
I don’t know why, but something tells me this Early Access period isn’t going to be ending soon.
But perhaps the biggest issue is the fact that Godus was brought to life precisely on Kickstarter. Four years ago, I think people started to realize that Peter Molyneux’s style of designing and planning simply does not fit the crowdfunding approach, especially when it’s so easy to overestimate yourself with flashy stretch goal offers while ultimately getting lost in realizing what you can actually deliver to potential backers. In the same time, it does seem that Molyneux has at least returned to communicating with the press, as a recent Eurogamer interview reveals how the famed British developer is now actually working as a designer/programmer on Godus Wars, leaving all business and public work to 22cans’ new CEO – Simon Phillips.
Maybe this is good news that will lead to more sensible future projects, as we already know that the studio is working on another non-crowdfunded game called The Trail. When it comes to the future of Godus Wars though, with the continuous backlash coming from Kickstarter backers that believed in the initial pitch things are looking quite erratic. What we are currently seeing could very well be described as a final push aimed at fixing the damage that has already been done, and only time will tell whether Godus Wars ends up being successful. But one thing’s for sure – you know things are bad when people are still giving you a tough time even after releasing a product for free.