Peter Molyneux Isn't a Liar, He's an Idea Guy

If Peter Molyneux isn't a liar, then what is he?

If you've ever worked in art, graphic design, or game design you know these people. They come in off the street and they've got "the idea." You know, the one that no one has ever thought of. The "idea" that is going to make them millions! It's Facebook but for vegetable growers! It's a game that combines Limbo and Shadow of the Colossus! It's perfect and wonderful, a fully formed idea. 

They just need you to make it. 

They're usually the kind of people you forget. The kind of people that end up on Twitter accounts like For Exposure, the kind of "employers" that you avoid on Craigslist, or that you would trade drinks talking about if you went to bars chock full of broke graphic designers. 

Or, y'know. They're Peter Molyneux. 

These guys are usually the butt of the joke in creative worlds. Seriously, toss around the phrase "idea guy" to your nearest maker. Everyone has worked with one, and they're always awful. 

They say those that can't do, teach. But the reality is that those who can't do, manage. They're idea guys. They are the type of people who promise to change your life, who promise that you'll be able to play DVD's on the in-game billboards, promising 60 interlinked players when the game can only support 8, or who say that their game is going to be the greatest game of all time. (Those are all Molyneux promises, just for clarity). 

It's hard to remember (especially for me as I literally wasn't alive), but Peter Molyneux was a baked bean salesmen who decided that he was going to make games. He got into the industry because of a spelling error, and one of his greatest successes, Popoulus, was generated at least in part on accident.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun recently conducted the single most cringe worthy, deeply uncomfortable interview of Peter Molyneux's career where they asked if he was a pathological liar. Former Bullfrog (Molyneux's first company) employee Mike Diskett told Kotaku a year ago: 

I've never really understood if Peter is a genius visionary who intends to make his claims come true, is a compulsive liar, just fantastically eager to please or perhaps even a crazy megalomaniac who believes his own hyperbole.

We've gotten caught up in the idea of truth. It feels like there can only be one truth here, that Molyneux willingly screwed a bunch of people out of their money through a Kickstarter that he knew was going to fail. That he has become the self-effacing parody of his own parody Twitter account. Perhaps the truth is simply that his earlier successes were brought about by his team and that at his core, Molyneux is just an idea guy.

He doesn't know that his games are impossible -- he's got the idea. If you've ever worked with an "idea guy," you know that the idea really isn't half the battle. It's not even 5%. And if all you've got is the idea, then you don't have anything. 


Former Staff Editor

Former rugby player, social media person, and occasional writer.

Published Feb. 13th 2015
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    Poor guy BibleThump
  • Ryan Mayle
    Featured Contributor
    I have a feeling that that he will be remembered from the RPS interview, but not as the guy who brought us amazing games like Black & White and Fable.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    Perhaps not explicitly for that interview, but definitely for this whole Godus debacle. I think he really is the "Man Who Promised Too Much."
  • Elijah Beahm
    Featured Columnist
    Having worked with several "idea guys", yeah, I wholeheartedly agree. Molyneux means well, but he's too easily distracted and seems incapable of grounding himself.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Featured Correspondent
    I just think if you get people to buy your game, like with Godus, people have paid for it... then if you don't follow through with your plans and move onto a new project you have lied... simple no way around that. You have taken people's money for something you promised and then just not done it...
    Peter Molyneux has amazing ideas, but why can he just not find someone to execute them fully? Not just half arse them.
  • Amanda Wallace
    Former Staff Editor
    My argument there would be that he hasn't actually left Godus -- they're still working on it. They're just also devoting time to a second project.
  • John Harper
    Elite IV was under development for several years, then they decided that the technology wasn't available for what they wanted to do, so they built other games to build that technology and nearly 20 years later they finally made Elite IV (Elite:Dangerous)

    I remember Populous fondly. I wasn't involved in Godus so I can remember him in a positive light.

New Cache - article_comments_article_19604