The Not-So-Curious Case of Notch and the Minecraft Escape


imagesI play Minecraft. Most of my personal Minecraft experience circles around building a super mansion, exploring for more crafting items, getting lost, and then essentially building afresh (I am on mansion number 45, I believe).  Otherwise, I’m watching TobyGames (aka Tobuscus or Toby Turner, my YouTuber crush) sing songs about mining diamonds (it’s an oldie, but a goodie), or Yogscast.  In 2012, due to video moderation on a kids’ site, I think I saw the Gangnam Style parody Minecraft video over 400 times (le sigh).  With the exception of that last little tidbid, I love Minecraft, and I’m not alone (in fact, Metaverse Mod Squad has a server for the team to play together – we’re that cool).

To date, Minecraft, a free-to-play sandbox experience, has been purchased by 16,727,368 people, racking in over $350,000 a day on the computer (PC/MAC) alone – again, that is not including the various gaming platforms.  According to Venture Beat in February of this year:

  • Sales had crossed 35 million (all platforms), which included:
  • 10 million copies of Minecraft: Pocket Edition for Android and iOS,
  • 10 million copies of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, and,
  • 1 million of Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition (only became available in December of 2013).

All of this from an indie-development company in Sweden. Well played, Mojang – or, more notably (at least in its 2009 infancy), well played, Mojang-founders Markus “Notch” Persson and Jakob Persér.

images-1Last week the purchase of Minecraft by Microsoft hit the tech gossip blogs and gaming forums.  It was not a universally celebrated concept, to say the least.  This week the purchase (whopping $2.5 billion) was confirmed.  As articles hit the web, debating the future ramifications of this deal, a blog post popped up from Notch regarding his relationship to Minecraft, Mojang, and how this deal helps seal his departure (emphasis on HELPS).  It’s well worth the read, but this is the part I found essential:

“I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me.  I’m not an entrepreneur.  I’m not a CEO.  I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.”

Cue flashback to February 2014 and Dong Nguyen’s Flappy Bird take-down, due to stress over success and reactions from public. 

Microsoft-minecraftLately, reading various game news sites, I can’t help but sense a growing trend of game developers who are frustrated with the perceived expectations and responsibilities of the public upon reaching some level of success. As moderators of a great many game forums, we see the good and the bad, the celebrations, and the hateful rants. Trolls run rampant in the gaming community – the bigger the target, the more explicit the cruelty, it seems.  But I digress….

I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal, and I feel like Minecraft is right up Microsoft’s ally, and I feel like somewhere Bill Gates is giddy, like a kid at Christmas – think about it, he’s very supportive of tech education, code development, construction, and possibility.

My favorite article, in the aftermath, has been from Techgeek, which had this gem of a video:

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 10.20.31 AMAdults may pander to the drama of tech-gossip, but kids?  Ask any 11-13 year old what they have on their cell phone, chances are you’ll here Clash of Clans, Instagram, and Pocket Minecraft.  My 13-year-old, LEGO-loving godson plays it regularly, and my 6-year-old superhero-loving godson just got it for his birthday (it was his main request).  Every child I have focus-tested in the last two years has it, has played it, or watches Minecraft videos.

As long as Minecraft can continue to allow the collaboration, continue to keep the concept simple, and continue to walk that line of entertainment and education, I’m all for the merger!  So, best to you, Notch, and BRING IT ON, MICROSOFT!

Izzy Neis
Director of Strategy & Engagement