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

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Talk Back

Posted on September 18, 2014

My kid has Instagram, Gina! I love that she shares photos with her friends and family and it is a locked down account. But I am with Jodi, she is 8 and has abandoned Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and the Disney channel and now almost exclusively just watches Minecraft videos on YouTube.

Posted on September 18, 2014

My son LOVES minecraft too and and was begging us (at age 4!) to play it. On his 5th birthday over the summer, we finally got it for him. We have to really monitor his time playing the game and watching Minecraft videos – as it is all that he wants to do now! My 7 year old daughter and my husband are loving it now too! Don’t think that this will change that. It will be interesting to see if anything changes 🙂

Suzie Owen
Posted on September 18, 2014

My 19 year daughter plays, she has been since it launched. She has built a whole new group of friends who play the game together. They play regularly, hanging out on Skype while trying new mods and building new worlds. As long as MS does not try to change too much I think they will be fine. If they try to force a new direction on the community I fear it may backfire. Only time will tell.

Ruston Montgomery
Posted on September 18, 2014

There are a lot of gamers out there, myself included, who see this as being a huge negative, especially after Microsoft bought the company Rareware (creators of such titles as Banjo Kazooie and Goldeneye N64), which reduced them into making not-as-quality games and wasting their talent on making the Avatars for the Xbox 360.
It is worrying that a promising indie company with one of the most successful games in recent history may go down the drain in the same vain of Rareware.

Posted on September 18, 2014

“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.” – with the exception of Instagram (cue over-protective Mother here), this is my 11 yr old boy to the T. BOTH my kids play Minecraft (ages 11 and 9). BOTH watch Minecraft videos <– which means I have watched Minecraft videos as I must pre-approve all You-Tube videos (to make sure they are 'safe' for my little ones… a full time job in and of itself!). Go Notch – enjoy what your creation has evolved into… and lets hope it doesn't change too much.

Christie Ratliff
Posted on September 18, 2014

My son and husband are a tag team duo of Minecraft Miners, as long as the game continues in the same direction I’m sure they will be happy with anyone who owns it. If the basic format and direction of the game shifts though, I fear the Ender Dragon will set its sites on Microsoft 😉

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