22Cans' studio head Peter Molyneux is unsurprised that initial reaction to the Godus Early Access release — which only included around 25 percent of the final game's content — was negative, himself calling it "Call of Duty without guns."
Speaking with USGamer, Molyneux expressed disappointment that many people don't read available information about a game before diving in and passing judgment. For example, Molyneux said the Godus Steam page notes it is in early access and will be constantly changing as 22Cans works up to a full release. However, players have complained about the game being unfinished, which Molyneux suggests means they did not read the explicit warning. He also discussed how he sees PC players' "fanatical, almost paranoid fear" of mobile games and an intense dislike of free-to-play models.
"They feel that free-to-play is the most toxic, radioactive thing that's going to destroy games," he explained. "They feel that no game on touch is worth looking at. That's because us gamers have been abused by Facebook gaming and mobile gaming for so long, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it."
Godus, crowdfunded through Kickstarter in fall 2012, launched in beta via Steam Early Access last September. Since then the game has gone through several updates, including the addition of a weather system. The game was touted as a newer version of Populous, a strategic god game Molyneux developed while at Bullfrog. Molyneux, however, was seeking to iterate on what he thought were the best parts of his previous games and sought to make Godus different from his previous god game.
Molyneux acknowledged that the early access version of Godus was "boring" as players could only sculpt and expand their territory — there were no "big motivators" that drove players to do these things and the AI still needed refining. The game was essentially incomplete with only a quarter of the intended content ready to go.
"We said, initially, our first release was 25 percent," Molyneux said. "What we were trying to say by naming that is, yeah, 75 percent of the game is missing — it's like giving you Call of Duty without guns. It is fundamentally going to be on the boring side."
Molyneux reaffirmed that he'd rather his team learn from failure than plow ahead not knowing how players felt. 22Cans can solve the "boring" problem by implementing new features like voyages and a central hub world that will connect all Godus players. The risk is worth it, the designer feels, because it is always a learning experience. 22Cans is aiming for a "zen" experience with Godus; Molyneux said it is meant to feel good but not necessarily exciting.
"This is also part of the problem — when you do a game, a game can often be defined as exciting," he said ."But I love the idea that I could play with this, or I could go off and I can do the exciting stuff and go off on voyages. It is a different experience."