Removed from sale: Peter Molyneux’s Godus and Godus Wars, never finished
Infamous crowdfunded disaster Godus and its spin-off Godus Wars have both been removed from sale on Steam. A statement from studio 22cans says that “an upcoming technical change to Amazon Web Services” is to blame. Both games had been in Steam Early Access since first launching in 2013 and 2016 respectively, receiving few updates since and mostly or overwhelmingly negative reviews.
“Regrettably, due to an upcoming technical change to Amazon Web Services, affecting our ability to serve necessary game files to new users, these titles are to be withdrawn from the Steam store. Please be assured that existing players can continue to enjoy these games without interruption,” says the brief announcement. “We sincerely appreciate the incredible support from our players over the past decade and extend our heartfelt thanks to you all.”
Godus raised £526,563 on Kickstarter in 2012, promising a “delightful reinvention of the god game” from Peter Molyneux. Molyneux is synonomous with the genre thanks to his involvement with earlier games such as Populous and Black & White. When Godus launched in 2013, however, it was startlingly barebones, grindingly slow, and held little in common with earlier Bullfrog and Lionhead classics.
It quickly became clear that 22cans would not be able to deliver on everything promised during the Kickstarter project – including multiplayer, a Linux version, its independence from a publisher, and much more. Many of these elements were known to be impossible from the beginning due to various pieces of middleware 22cans were using. Molyneux talked in interviews about the pressure to overpromise in order to secure funding, telling Tech Radar that “the behaviour is incredibly destructive, which is ‘Christ, we’ve only got 10 days to go and we’ve got to make £100,000, for fuck’s sake, lets just say anything’.” Then, well.
Godus Wars followed in 2016 as a more combat-oriented spin-off built on a new platform with multiplayer support. It was pitched as being free to owners of the original, now-abandoned Godus – except only the first continent was actually free and it surprised players with a pop-up £5 charge to continue beyond that. Godus Wars would also never be finished.
Molyneux has copped to failures with Godus several times, saying he’s learned his lesson about overpromising – usually while making grand proclamations about what his next game will be. Godus Wars was followed by 22cans’ only other game still available on Steam, The Trail, which Molyneux said would “build on feelings and emotions untapped so far.”
Last month, 22cans released their latest game, the business management and invention sim Legacy, which seems to be Molyneux operating in his Theme Park/The Movies mode – except that Legacy is a Web3 blockchain game and they sold £40 million in NFT land two years before launch. 22cans updated Legacy players earlier this month to explain that they’d be ramping up marketing efforts on Legacy soon so as to help attract tenants for its current population of wannabe digital landlords.
Molyneux, meanwhile, began talking about 22cans’ next game back in October with launch of a development blog for a fantasy RPG set in Albion, which is also the name of the fantasy Britain where Lionhead’s Fable was set.
I’m less surprised that Godus and Godus Wars have been removed from sale than I am surprised that they were still available for the past seven years. It’s right that no one should be able to accidentally buy them in future. It’s also right that they should be remembered for what they were: evidence that Molyneux’s exuberant what-if approach to interviews and promotion is not that of a benevolent, irrepressibly creative Wonka-like figure, but of a businessman who desperately wants your money but hasn’t made anything worth buying in over a decade.