Taking a break from selling snake oil, Peter Molyneux spent a bit of time at GDC spreading doom and gloom about the current indie scene. In an interview with CVG, the 22Cans founder predicted the demise of the trend, with indie’s selling out.
“Don't think we're going to be all indies for the next five years - these things go in cycles, just like in the music business,” Molyneux said. “You have a time where punk is big, and then you have times like now where everything is manufactured.”
Quite the prediction. Some indie devs might make the move to a big publisher or expand and change to a more traditional structure. It's inevitable, already happening in fact, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But It's hardly a death knell, and it's a move that seems like the antithesis of the philosophy behind a lot of studios.
Molyneux’s faith in indie devs to not just run towards the money isn’t very strong. “Here's the thing: walk through any hotel lobby at GDC and look at people's name badges. This morning at breakfast I saw three angel investors talking to indies. They're saying, 'take my money! I want to invest in your company!'
"But what those indie companies don't realise is that they'll then have to have board meetings, and in those meetings they'll be told, 'no, you shouldn't do that - look at this game that's making money'." I’d suggest there’s a difference between a developer being offered a deal and a developer taking investors up on said offer. But what do I know, I never made Curiosity.
However, he said that it’s a great time to be an indie dev right now. “"It's very much like the 80s," he said. "Back then anybody could create a game that could be hugely successful. There were no formulas or anything cast in stone.”
"A few years ago it was all about fear; huge budgets and 'my franchise is bigger than your franchise,'” he continued. “It was all about 'who's going to create the new Call of Duty?' Now it's all about invention, creativity and not having any fear."
Molyneux left Microsoft, where he created the Fable titles, in 2012 and founded 22Cans. So far they have made a game about a destroying a cube which was a PR stunt for their other game, Godus, which is in Early Access and not currently very good.
"Personally, if I was still working at Microsoft I would be self-harming. It would be a horrible experience. I now feel like I'm back in an industry that's truly fascinating and marvellous, and I can say crazy things like, 'let's create a game that connects 70 million people together!'”