Molyneux on Kickstarter. As the Dragons would say – I’m out.

Peter Molyneux uses Kickstarter. That is the joke. Except, it’s real and in all fairness this is one man for whom Kickstarter shouldn’t be an option. But he is – lots of otherwise very wealthy developers and studios are using our money to take risks. I fear this is a disaster waiting to happen now…

 

When I heard Peter Molyneux was using Kickstarter for his next project, I was drinking a mug of tea. Most of it came out of my nose.

It’s not that I dislike Kickstarter as an idea – I wrote a while back that my main gripe with it was that there were names and talent being drawn to it to fund concepts, sequels and remakes that any otherwise sane publisher would be throwing money at. Most of them are in fact really truly great ideas, concepts and projects as well. But if we were to fund each and every decent one, we’d be very poor and also have to realise that this isn’t an investment. We only get what is noted down on the reward tier. Any extra profits will go to the studio; a studio that hasn’t had to use its own money at all. In effect, using our money to pay their wages and then skimming the profits off the top.

As a financial ploy, it’s a spectacular lesson in fools being easily parted with their money. There is absolutely no risk on the studios end, we as the donors of the project are expected to take on the burden of risk in this case. Now, I don’t want to make it out that all studios are doing this to get a free pass because that would be very unkind; smaller studios and developers who really do need the public interest and faith to be put into their work can benefit the most from the whole Kickstarter, and you do need bigger names to draw attention to the smaller ones. I get that. I appreciate it. I even somewhat applaud it. It’s when a successful multi-millionaire sort like Peter Molyneux is allowed to look to fund his next project on Kickstarter where I think we should cry foul.

It’s not all to do with the fact I think Mr. Molyneux is no more than a slick con artist. It’s partly to do with that, but mostly it’s because he is such a divisive figure and he takes no responsibility for his failings at all. He over-promises and under-delivers with the kind of consistency that would be really amazing if that were the other way around, but is in truth as is quite depressing. Furthermore, this is a man with industry ties most would commit ritual sacrifices for, and a man with a personal fortune that dwarfs anything seen on Kickstarter so far. Not that that is in itself a reason to judge, but still, it feels a little off.

Mr. Molyneux is a high-risk investment in every sense of the term, and his presence on Kickstarter for me is like the arrival of one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The end is nigh, it’s just a matter of waiting for them all to group up and send us out on a… high? Sorry, that made no sense.

His track record should tell you everything you need to know; his recent ‘Curiosity’ app-come-social-experiment has been beset with technical issues as well as funding problems (I guess that they classed it as a lottery-app meant he had to pay a lot, lot more!). Fable, whilst I love it, has been a constant source of disappointment for many, many years, itself beset with technical issues as well as features promised in the hype and never materialising. The man hasn’t had that spark for over a decade now; everything he touches turns to mush. And this is the main reason he is coming to Kickstarter – because he no longer wants to put his personal fortune at stake. He wants us to shoulder the burden of risk, risks that I wouldn’t touch with a fifty foot barge pole sticking out of the firm curves of some Brazilian supermodels buttcheeks.

Of course he will tell us this is an exciting opportunity to shape his game but really, Molyneux has redefined the term of “Auteur”. I wouldn’t expect him to pay any attention to us as backers, in much the same way he has barely registered our feedback for years over the Fable franchise. Any feedback I could supply I’d expect to see put into a shredder within minutes, if not seconds. Molyneux has never been interested in what we have had to say. He exists in his own little bubble of a world where any minor criticism is neutralised and turned into some kind of compliment to his ego. Therefore the idea of crowdsourcing and listening to what people have to say is massively against everything he has done in years. Do I have any hope he might change this time? Perhaps a little, but I sure as hell wouldn’t put my own money on it!

That he’s even allowed on Kickstarter boggles my mind. This is like Rihanna using Kickstarter to fund her next album. She has the contacts, the contracts and the money to easily do this off her own back, and yes I am sure that her dedicated fans will clamour to even get a faint chance of providing feedback because it would be contacting her and communicating with her. But the reality is, she probably wouldn’t. It would be handled by middle-men PR gurus and everything would be kind of played out to minimise the risk on Rihanna. Molyneux is likely to play the exact same card – he will lend his face to it, but it doesn’t look like his soul is in it. Where Project Eternity looks like a labour of love that you can’t help but fall for, Project GODUS looks cheap and cynical in direct comparison. He has everything he could need to make a proper Populous sequel, and get a lot of credibility back in a market that has rather fallen out of love with him and his devious ways. When he was asking for donations to keep Curiosity running (because he couldn’t implement the shop without paying a big fee or some such nonsense) I sighed. It was the final straw. The last descent. He was asking for our money and there was no real intention to improve Curiosity, or at least ensure that everyone who took part got SOMETHING from it. No, he just wanted us to donate to keep it running. No intention of using his own personal wealth to do so. The onus was on us. We’re the ones taking the risks for him.

Seriously, just say no. Please!

And I’m actually pretty sick of this idea. Peter Molyneux isn’t the first and he won’t be the last developer/studio asking us to take such financial gambles with our money – and in some cases, lots of money, with fans throwing hundreds if not thousands of dollars at them. Especially with Kickstarter terms and conditions absolving it of any responsibility should things go wrong; with Mr. Molyneux, the one thing you can bet your life savings on is that somehow, in some way, it will go wrong. He is the disaster that I’ve been waiting for on Kickstarter. He is the harbinger of its destruction. And if Kickstarter had any sense at all, or any intention to carry on and try and be there for those who need it – they would immediately and unceremoniously delete his project, and tell him to stop being such a douche and fund it himself. But to do that would also be to undermine its position as being there for all when they need it, and that’s the problem with nice ideas like Kickstarter – eventually, some twonk is going to turn up and take advantage of your good nature and teabag it relentlessly into the middle of next week.

And for all my criticisms of Kickstarter, I actually think this is a very sad state of affairs. I don’t HATE Kickstarter – I do fear that there is a hefty reliance on it currently and that I fear that a lot of these projects may never see the warm sunshine of a full release. But I can always be proven wrong. I’d say I’d expect Peter Molyneux to prove me wrong, but I couldn’t. Not with a straight face. There is no way I can see this turning out well for him because so little has for so long that you just expect it. If it wasn’t endearing I’d say he was the Mr. Bean of the games industry. But yeah, that’s being nice to him, and after Fable 2, Fable 3, Fable: The Journey and Curiosity the last thing I feel towards the man is empathy. Even knowing the basic game is £15… I’d rather pay the £15 when the game is done, thanks. At least then I can see how it has turned out.

Kickstarter has always been a concept founded on trust and goodwill. Both of these things are lacking when you come to Peter Molyneux. There is no sensible or logical reason why you would give him your money in this instance. He has done too much harm, lost too much shine. He has consistently underperformed where it matters. Most who come to Kickstarter at least do so with an already largely good track record that can generate the goodwill necessary for a good funding drive. Peter Molyneux lacks this, and I can’t understand why anyone continues to believe that next time will be different. Eventually, you have to stop believing. When they’ve abused your faith enough that you feel nothing but pain and anger at the merest mention of Fable, or Peter Molyneux, then that’s the time to just keep your money where it is. Why should WE fund the game that he wants to make to build bridges? That’s like taking someone away on a holiday as an apology… and charging them for both tickets, both ways.

If Kickstarter can be equated to Dragons Den, then this is the one project we should all be rejecting. No good can come from this. If Peter wants to get back in our good graces, then he will have to realise it must be done without relying on us, our faith or our money. He will have to make that long, treacherous journey on his own. Only then can he at least attempt to claw back the lost reputation that he has so wilfully discarded over the years in pursuit of increasing his wealth. It must be done for us, but without our interference. Anything else will come across as cynical, immoral and downright tacky.

We have taken enough risks over the years on his behalf. And we’ve rarely found ourselves happy. There’s nothing left here. No love. No hope. Just that sensation that if they allow Mr. Molyneux there, on Kickstarter, that he’s going to create a problem they simply can’t ignore. And he will bring down a lot more than his name – because for me, there’s no-where left for his name to go. He’s already at the bottom of the barrel. Now he’s aiming to take advantage of other things with goodwill attached to them in the hope it distracts from the reality that he is a disaster waiting to happen all over again. It shouldn’t be allowed. Whatever my opinions of Kickstarter, even Kickstarter deserves better than this.

The sad thing is… people will fund him. And they will bring this all on themselves. I wish I could pity them… but I stopped feeling that too.

Peter… I’m out. Use your own money. It’s stained with enough tears…

 

Wow, this is getting hits! Seriously??
Hi there people coming from Joystiq and wherever else. Nice to meet you!
Seriously, I still love Fable. I always will.
So yeah, I have a lot of pain to get rid of.
Anyway, err, thanks for coming by! Comment, subscribe, follow, whatever.
And I do still respect you Peter!
Just don’t count on me funding your games…

Kami 

  • I felt the need to clarify my position on my personal-blog-thing, which you can read here. Seriously though, thank you for coming to this pimple on the buttcheek of the Internet. I didn’t really intend or expect people to link here, but I thank those who are. You made this cynical douche unusually cheery at a time when he needed it most. I am most grateful for it, and wish you all the happiest, most wonderful Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year/Apocalypse/Rapture (delete where applicable) possible. Sending massive vibes of positivity and goodwill your way. With all the best regards, Kami. (edited 22nd November 2012 02:01am – yes, I should be in bed. Don’t remind me!) 
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