The Unconventional Peter Molyneux: A Glimpse into ‘MOAT’

Peter Molyneux is a prominent figure in the world of video games, a name that may not instantly ring a bell for some new to the gaming scene, but his legacy is undoubtedly etched in the annals of gaming history. If you’ve ever embarked on a virtual god-like journey in Populous, managed an underground lair in Dungeon Keeper, shaped the moral compass of your character in Fable, or even embarked on an adventure to build your own Theme Park, you’ve unwittingly encountered the fruits of Molyneux’s creative genius.

Molyneux’s back catalogue is comprehensive and influential. With a career spanning four decades he has worked with some of the most impressive names in gaming including Electronic Arts and Microsoft. In 2012, Molyneux left his role as Creative Director of Microsoft Game Studios, Europe and founded independent game studio 22cans.

To be diplomatic; the games coming out of 22cans have been inconsistent. Curiosity: What’s Inside the Cube? (2012) the first game out of 22cans was described as a multiplayer social experiment. Godus or Godus Wars was the subject of a highly controversial Kickstarter campaign. It has languished in Development Hell. The game/s is/are still listed as Early Access on Steam despite it being eight years since the last update. The Trail, released on Android and iOS in 2016, was a mobile only game which was later ported to PC. Of all of them, Godus has been the most controversial.

Oh! My Godus…

In February 2015, the gaming news outlet RockPaperShotgun published an article that cast a critical eye on the methods and ongoing development challenges faced by Godus. The article highlighted the dissatisfaction and frustration expressed by players and backers who had supported the game’s Kickstarter campaign. It shed light on the game’s troubled development journey, which included promises that had not been fulfilled and a lack of transparency regarding the development process. These issues led to a substantial backlash from the gaming community and raised questions about the feasibility of Molyneux’s ambitious vision for Godus.

RockPaperShotgun’s piece added to the growing skepticism surrounding Peter Molyneux’s game development endeavours, raising concerns about his ability to deliver on the grand promises he often made. The article marked a pivotal moment in the narrative surrounding Molyneux’s reputation as a game developer, setting the stage for a critical reevaluation of his projects and communication with the gaming community.

Hey, remember Godus?! It was successfully Kickstarted in 2012, despite launching with no video at all, as the name of “Peter Molyneux” still carried enough currency to raise over half a million pounds for his return to the god game genre. Just over two years have gone by, and mobile free-to-play versions of the game launched last year, but what state is the PC development in now? Molyneux has announced that he’s now working on a new project, a mobile thing called The Trial, suggesting Godus is no longer his focus. And the team currently working on the game have recently acknowledged that they, “simply can’t see us delivering all the features promised on the kickstarter page.” Uh oh.

Molyneux was berated over decisions made and lies told, culminating in a heated telephone interrogation with RPS which was published a week later. The tone of the interview was set by the first question, ‘Do you think that you’re a pathological liar?’

The ultimate result was this fiery exchange:

Peter Molyneux: What you’re almost going to get out of this is driving me out of the industry.

RPS: No, what I want–

Peter Molyneux: And well done John, well done! And if that’s what you want, you’re going about it completely the right way.

RPS: If you were to be driven out of the industry it would be as a result of your own actions. I’ve done nothing but quote back things you’ve said and done.

Peter Molyneux: No [inaudible] me being hounded, which is what you’re doing.

After enduring a grueling interrogation by the press, it’s hardly surprising that Peter Molyneux made the decision to step back from public appearances and interviews, opting for a more private existence over the relentless scrutiny of the public eye. The intense scrutiny of his previous projects and promises had taken a toll on his public image.

In the following years, specifically in 2017, Molyneux briefly resurfaced to hint at a game called Legacy. However, he has predominantly maintained a low profile, staying out of the limelight for the past six years.

Which brings us to now.


On the 13th of October, 2023, Peter Molyneux made an exciting return to the gaming world, this time via Twitter, to unveil his latest endeavour – a game intriguingly titled MOAT. This announcement sent ripples of anticipation throughout the gaming community. What set it apart was the enigmatic yet enticing premise: MOAT would be set in Albion, the enchanting realm known and cherished by fans of the beloved Fable series.

The announcement was characteristically Peter Molyneux; light on specifics but heavy on inspiration, a trademark approach that has come to define his unique creative style. Molyneux, known for his knack for sparking players’ imaginations, offered just enough to ignite curiosity and leave gamers eagerly speculating about what this new Albion adventure might entail.

In a further move that tantalised fans and curious onlookers, Molyneux shared a link to a blog where he intends to unveil the ‘crazy way’ in which he designs games. This behind-the-scenes peek into his creative process promises to be an intriguing journey for those interested in the mind of a game design maverick.

When I’m thinking of an idea for a game it starts usually in a totally inopportune moment with this idea: Wouldn’t it be great to get people who play a game to feel like they are experiencing some sort of emotion?

Molyneux’s return to game development, especially in the cherished world of Albion, has rekindled excitement and speculation in the gaming world. As fans await more details about MOAT and the fascinating insights into game design he intends to share, there’s a sense of anticipation and curiosity that harks back to the days when Molyneux’s innovative ideas were the talk of the gaming town.

Molyneux promises to use his blog to start exploring the idea of MOAT. I, for one, am very excited.

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