GDC: More from Molyneux

On hard drives, PC gaming and the Wii.

Peter Molyneux is one of the headline speakers at this year's Game Developers Conference. As you'll know if you read the preview published yesterday, he's here to reveal more of Fable 2. Specifically he's been discussing co-op, and the innovation that will allow players to earn in-game gold by playing XBLA titles.

But the Lionhead boss has never been one to stick to promoting his own projects during interviews. In fact, his tendency to stray from the party line has got him into trouble before now. So, obviously, Eurogamer took the opportunity to ask Molyneux some more general questions. Read on to find out what he thinks of the Wii, the state of PC gaming, the Xbox 360's lack of a hard drive and more.

Eurogamer: Having seen the demo of Fable 2, it's clear you're doing some ambitious stuff. Have you ever wished you had a hard drive to play with, as you'd have had with PlayStation 3?

Peter Molyneux: Fable 2 works on the Core system, and there are some things which are problematic to do if you haven't got a hard drive. They're mainly to do with downloading, sustaining and adding to it - that's problematic. Given the choice, I'd obviously choose a hard drive every day of the week.

But the balance to that is you're supporting a system which is an awful lot cheaper. What I'm trying to address with Fable 2 is say 'Look, anybody can play this game.' That's what I really want. So supporting the cheaper price is really important.

Eurogamer: So you think you've backed the right horse? There's been talk that PS3 is finally coming into its own now, and suggestions the software line-up for 360 isn't as stellar as it was last year. Are you still confident?


Peter Molyneux: It's a continual battle. I think that battle will rage over many years and many generations, because no one wants to give up the prize. The prize is that every home will have an entertainment system and someone's going to think, 'It's going to be mine' - whether that be Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo.

I don't think this generation is going to have a clear, decisive winner. Even when you look at the pretty stellar performance the Wii has had, that's only been [because of] a tiny number of titles. Wii Sports and so on have done incredibly well, no one would argue with that. But where are the rest of the titles? How well are they selling?

Eurogamer: Nintendo would probably dispute that. They made the point recently the NPD figures suggest a lot of third-parties are having good fortune with the Wii.

Peter Molyneux: I'm sure they are, but they're not having that much good fortune compared to on the other platforms. If you look at the software attach ratio it isn't as strong as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3.

Eurogamer: Perhaps the attractiveness is the relative cost. You must have spent millions on Fable 2. You can make a Wii game fairly cheaply by comparison.

Peter Molyneux: You can. The funny thing about that is, for third-party publishers, the Wii is probably just as expensive as PS3 - if not more so - because you've got to downgrade all the graphics and change the control mechanism.

For Nintendo, I think that's probably true. I don't know how much Mario Galaxy cost but it's a pretty huge game. Something like Wii Sports was probably very cheap.


Eurogamer: What's your take on PC gaming at the moment? Cliff Bleszinski was recently quoted as saying it's in "disarray", so Epic is concentrating on console development for now. Is that an opinion you share?

Peter Molyneux: I think it's a huge tragedy. I mean, you might as well say PC gaming is World of Warcraft and The Sims... The weird thing is everyone's got a PC, they're just not buying software for it.

You only have to look at some of the titles which have recently come out. Crysis - I don't know the final sales figures, but they certainly weren't stellar compared to the amount of effort they put in.

So I think it's a real tragedy. I love the PC. There isn't a tangible reason why it shouldn't still be a great gaming platform. I still think the mouse is a fantastic device for playing games on. We all hail the Wii as being a great innovator but actually, it's a mouse you hold [differently].

Eurogamer: You don't think it's just a perception thing? Digital distribution figures are very difficult to track. Steam says they've got over 13 million accounts; PopCap and companies like that are doing extremely well. Isn't it just that PC gaming is about different things now?


Peter Molyneux: I think that's a fair thing to say. For years, the PC was home to a massive amount of innovation. If you look at the number of genres that came from the PC, they still don't exist anywhere else. RTS games only exist there. That's what's fallen off.

Underneath that, you're quite right. There's an enormous amount of gaming happening with PopCap, Big Fish and Reflective. But here's the fascinating thing - have you been on those sites recently? Forget Steam. Start looking at those sites.

The fascinating thing is when they first started, all these games came out like Peggle and Mystery Files and Alice Greensleeves and Diner Dash, and it felt quite exciting. There was a lot of innovation going on. Okay, there weren't great graphics, but there was innovation.

In my view, that has completely stopped. They're doing the same game over and over again with a different wrapper. It's like a mini-universe in itself which is emulating what's happening in our industry.

The second thing is, you've got The Sims and World of Warcraft sucking all the air out of the PC market. It's just incredible.

Peter Molyneux runs Lionhead, now part of Microsoft. He was speaking to Ellie Gibson and Tom Bramwell.

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About the author

Ellie Gibson

Ellie Gibson

Contributor  |  elliegibson

Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.


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