Peter Molyneux has angered many of the 17,000 backers who pledged money to fund his Godus game because it will include pay-to-win gems when the original crowd funding pitch made no mention of microtransactions.
Last November Peter Molyneux launched a Kickstarter to fund his game Godus. Kickstarter has become renown for helping small indie developers finance games that otherwise wouldn’t be made without public support. Molyneux’s decision to raise development money using Kickstarter was heavily criticised as being cynical and greedy because he is financially successful; he’s a multi-millionnaire who has started and sold two successful software companies and could have paid to develop Godus using his own fortune as he did with iOS game Curiosity.
On the Kickstarter page Godus is billed as ‘the reinvention of Populous’ the phenomenally well reviewed Amiga and PC game he made in 1989. The Godus sales pitch says:
“Populous was created over 22 years ago, and we believe that to date, nothing has come close to emulating its powerfully godlike experience. It’s this experience we aim to reimagine.”
Initially announced as a PC only game other platforms were added as stretch goals. The description of the game suggested it would be a modern update to the original and implied that it would be in the same format as the original e.g. a self-contained full-price game. Backers who pledged £20 or more were promised a copy of the game. However nowhere on the page was any mention made of the bane of many casual games – microtransactions.
Over the course of the last ten months developer 22 Cans have been releasing progress update videos. In one it was mentioned that the game would feature gems and gamers’ suspicions began to be aroused that gems seemed to be a strange fit for this God-sim. Molyneux directly addressed this point in a video released on YouTube on the 29th June. At the 15m 18s mark Molyneux says in an non-definitive denial “We may never charge money for gems.”
Now Godus backers have had access to the alpha early test version of the game. Eurogamer forum member Ep1cN3ss1e discovered a yet to be activated feature that would allow the purchase of gems with real money. Ep1cN3ss1e wrote:
“Gems can be used to accelerate population growth – and in a god game population count is crucial. This gives those with the willingness and ability to pay extra money an unfair advantage. This money is in addition to the 19 EUR beta key and however much the release version is. So you are free to pay as much as you want, after you’ve already paid for the game.”
One upgrade of 1300 gems is listed as $49.99!
God and strategy genre games like Populous and Civilisation are cherished precisely because it is a player’s skill and decisions that determine whether they succeed or fail. The inclusion of gems to Godus means that players can make the game much easier for themselves by spending money in addition to the original cost of the game. It can be argued that pay-to-win games do not require extra purchases, however they are designed to be much harder or take longer to play for gamers who do not pay anything extra. Whilst there is a place for pay-to-win products there was never any mention of this on the original Godus Kickstarter page so many users have taken to complaining on the private 22 Cans forums however these are being moderated.
Backers have taken to commenting Steam and the YouTube video page where Molyneux denied charging for gems.
Jonhanzu wrote “Why did you have to ruin it with ingame transactions? I kinda get it if it is a free to play game but this game costs up front, doesnt it? Ugh, why must it be so hard to find a game that is just lets you enjoy it, no strings attached? I’m tired of this psuedo gambling monetization in gaming, Remember the days when you payed 50, got the game and could just play it, knowing you got the whole package?”
René Descartes wrote “oh so many lies.”
And Comment Whingeman wrote “Go suck a fat one, Peter. You lying sack of shit.”
UPDATE: Peter Molyneux has since responded to the storm of criticism on Steam.
” This is the way I think of Gems in Godus beta: We need to test these systems for the future of the game… You cannot buy game features with gems, only effectively speed things up, because of feedback we removed gems spending on features… Gems cannot be used in multiplayer, in no way are they used as a pay to win mechanic. I regard buying gems as cheating, but some people love to cheat.”
At the time the Godus crowdfunding scheme was launched 22 Cans would have known that the game would include micro transactions; which begs the question why didn’t Peter Molyneux mention the pay to win gems on the Godus Kickstarter page?
Source: Cracked: Five ways we’re totally ruining Kickstarter
Source: GamesIndustry: Kickstarter Funding revolution or digital panhandling?
Source: IGN: Kickstarter Controversy! Should Big Name Developers Get Involved?