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Mojang's Monster Profits (idg.se)
206 points by Matti on Feb 1, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 168 comments

Are there honestly any Mojang haters in the world? These guys are just great.

1. Minecraft is an absolute work of art as a standalone game. The possibilities are endless and it works everywhere. It's simple to play yet is possible of incredible complexity.

2. Relative to the playtime, the game is actually very inexpensive, especially if you got the beta/alpha discount

3. Notch really seems like just about the most pleasant guy in the world and really just wears his passion on his sleeve. He's an easy guy to like.

4. Notch and everyone at Mojang really love video games and it shows. I always really respected guys like Kurt Cobain and Flea growing up because they always tried to give credit and lend their popularity to fellow musicians and influences. Everyone at Mojang does this and are surely leading kids toward a lot of great games. They even support the Minecraft clones.

5. It's been covered but Notch has used the massive profits of Minecraft in smart ways to build Mojang slowly and really help out the developers who make it possible. Great bunch of developers too, very public and responsive. They are also smart about what actually gets added to Minecraft.

6. Best community in gaming currently, hands down. The user made stuff is jaw dropping.

7. They continue to spend most of their resources working on Minecraft despite the fact that they are both working on other games now and could sit on their thumbs and rake in the cash on Minecraft if they wanted. Let users fix the bugs. You know, like Bethesda does.

8. Cutest mersh ever.

9. He made some pretty sweet amateur techno back in the day under the name Markus Alexei on (remember this one?) mp3.com. Some of the more treasured stuff in my mp3 collection.

he used to have mojang.com/music/ which had lots of tracks he'd made and it was fantastic music for working to, then in mid 2010 he moved his website to a new server and didn't transfer it and hasn't re-uploaded it since (although he said he "totally should" 2 years ago https://twitter.com/notch/status/24599024779)

Archive.org has the page but not the files! http://web.archive.org/web/20090728013239/http://www.mojang.... :-(

Is it possible to find mp3.com-era stuff in some archive?

There's a few songs on his bandcamp page: http://markusalexei.bandcamp.com/

I sent him an email yonks ago and he put up all his stuff for a week or so. This was pre-fame so maybe that won't work anymore.. if you're really keen I'm sure I could put up what I have somewhere (I managed to mangle some of the id3 tags unfortunately, I need to clean that up sometime, it's on a list...)

Could you kindly? I'd love to check out his songs. Bandcamp only hosts a couple of his songs, but the archive.org page of his old music page shows plenty more songs. [http://web.archive.org/web/20090728013239/http://www.mojang....] I can't seem to find them anywhere, so if you do upload them, please let me know!

Heh, you have no contact information in your profile. Flick me an email (my email is in my contact page) and if I get around to it I'll let you know.

There are plenty of people who hate Mojang. I think it's just standard gamer-entitlement, though. Plus, neither Notch nor Mojang are perfect (obviously) but that seems to be a requirement for some people to not hate something.

3. Notch really seems like just about the most pleasant guy in the world and really just wears his passion on his sleeve. He's an easy guy to like.

I realize I am in the minority, but something about him just rubs me the wrong way. This is not a criticism of him, more just a personal preference.

Yes, indeed, you are right! You are in the minority!

My social group hates the guy. I can't bring up Mojang without them ranting about how he has an undeserved ego and takes all the credit for Minecraft when really Jeb did all the work.

I will say that I think it's incredibly self-absorbed that he hosts livestreams of him coding, but a lot of people seem to enjoy watching them, so it's not too bad.

Is there anything specific that rubs you the wrong way about him?

It really does take a certain amount of ego and guts just to try to get into the indie game dev (or software period) industry. You have to be a decent coder and you have to have an incredibly thick skin because you don't have 5 layers of marketing and PR like EA where you could basically ignore the fact that you game sucked if your bonus didn't depend on the Metacritic scores. I read all this stuff all the time about how Phil Fish or Blow or whoever is such an asshole, and I just don't get what drives people to saying that stuff. There's a lot of people out there who I admire whose personality is sometimes grating or who is blinded by ego but that's in all walks of life. I don't need to be in love with someone to love their work. Plus I simply think it's too judgmental to call someone you don't know an asshole. You can say someone is being an asshole, but I don't think you can judge them personally by their persona online. It's the same with Linus, people think he's a jerk, and maybe he is sometimes but if he was really, I mean REALLY a huge jerk then the Linux kernel would never exist. He'd be programming weapons systems somewhere or something. It takes a certain kind.

Although I don't stalk Notch online except when he dips into Twitter, I mostly see that guy giving a ton of credit to other people at Mojang or at least often enough where it's my general impression of him.

Livestreams of a game develpment sessions are very popular in the indie game scene[1]. It's just a trendy way to communicate things about your process to help other people who might benefit from the information. Think of it like a "tips and tricks" article for game development, in a form more suited for the media-focused game dev community.

Game jams such as Ludum Dare heavily encourage participants to stream their sessions and include tutorials on how to get the whole thing set up.

[1] http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/tag/livestream/

Man, he even streams himself coding to help others who want to pursue their hobbies and people find a way to spin that into a bad thing? Seriously?

"I will say that I think it's incredibly self-absorbed that he hosts livestreams of him coding"

Considering how many eyes would be on him, I'd think it'd be humble that one would be willing to allow people to watch them mock up anything and critique over-shoulder.

I regularly get emailed asking if i can do another coding stream and regularly go over 50 viewers. If you don't like it, don't watch it.

On number 6) I think you have to meet a few people at a place called bay12.


The Dwarf Fortress community is an incredible anomaly. It is donation-ware, yet, Tarn brings in enough money to live on (albeit, not comfortably) and to pay his brother for some help. Aside from perhaps Richard Stallman, are there any other software developers that can lay the claim that they've lived off a tip jar?

Revenue growth is slow, but not bad considering he attempted to live off of donations at the start of the financial crisis. There is still organic growth however, and as larger milestones are reached I am genuinely curious to see how the community responds, especially once the global economy is out of the current creep its in now:


It's like watching the rise of Banksy. The game is now featured in MoMA. He's had a 6-page article in the New York Times magazine. Every AAA game studio I've walked into at least deeply respects Dwarf Fortress and Bay 12, even if they don't play the game. If he ever gets to finish it (2030 perhaps), it makes you wonder where it will end up in the zeitgeist.

One other example that comes to mind is Paul Davis the developer of the ardour audio system.

I suppose you could include Linux Torvalds etc but only if you consider big corporate sponsorships as donations.

I would add that Minecraft is incredibly accessible for all ages. No matter how old you are there is something for you to do - be it building red stone circuits or making a wooden hut. There is something for everyone.

I have nothing against Notch, Mojang, or Minecraft, but I have to mention Infiniminer, an earlier fpb(first person block) style game that I wish hadn't been cracked and then maliciously destroyed, and then abandoned by Zachary Barth.

>>>5. It's been covered but Notch has used the massive profits of Minecraft ... and really help out the developers who make it possible

Notch may have helped out some of the developers who made Minecraft possible, but I hadn't heard that he helped out the ONE developer who made Minecraft possible.

Here are Notch's words for which developer made the game "Minecraft" possible. http://notch.tumblr.com/post/227922045/the-origins-of-minecr...

>>>But then I found Infiniminer. My god, I realized that that was the game I wanted to do.

Has Notch given some of his massive profits to Zachary Barth, the developer who made Minecraft possible? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zachary_Barth

There is not one among us who does not stand on the shoulders of giants. Incremental improvements is what makes the world go round.

It makes me think of "Dizzying but Invisible Depth" Google+ post from awhile back. https://plus.google.com/112218872649456413744/posts/dfydM2Cn...

Agreed! I think most of us are sitting on those great shoulders as opposed to standing, but that's semantics for you.

To clarify, I think it speaks positively to Notch's character when he says that Infiniminer was the game he wanted to make, and also publishes the statement on his own website for all the web to see.

And I think it's great that he and others were inspired by Infiniminer, and added their own tweaks. I just wish the original inspiration was still around so everyone could see where it all came from.

It honestly surprises me that I haven't heard about Notch helping Zach out financially, since most people seem to think that Notch is a pretty nice and honorable person.

Not to mention 9. using their game as a platform for urban planning and development in poorer countries: http://www.mojang.com/2012/09/mojang-and-un-presents-block-b...

It doesn't get a lot of mention which only really adds to the idea that they're doing this out of honest kindness rather than marketing.

The amazing thing about this game is that I'm using it to teach my girls how to program with it. Its a great tool because it allows them to see the value in writing code by getting real results quickly.

The oldest one wanted to create pink wood to build herself a pink wood house. Why? Well duh, its pink (her words). We quickly dug the source code and had a pink wood block in a short time. She was so happy and learned about Java. A double win in my book.

Could you explain more about your setup? My own daughters love Minecraft and also want to learn to code...I'd be very interested in how you're accomplishing this.


I'm writing a short e-book on the subject. But the best way to do this is to go to the minecraft wiki and start reading. They have tutorials in there. Reddit also has some very good information and you can ask questions. You can always shoot me an email.

My 8 year old son wants to do the same. Have you found any resources that would be helpful for somebody with intermediate java skills (me) but no modding experience get up to speed with modding minecraft? Modding minecraft could be a great gateway for getting my son excited about programming.

I'm actually writing a short e-book on the subject that I will host on github for all to enjoy. I will announce it here once its out.

oooh, have you seen pi version? Its purpose is for teaching children programming (its scriptable with python). It doesn't look like its quite ready, but here is the link to watch: http://pi.minecraft.net/

There's also Computer Craft, which adds craftable computers and turtles in Lua: http://www.computercraft.info

I'm preparing to try that one out. It looks so interesting and much more fun that writing stuff on Eclipse.

That would make an amazing texture pack!

Have you seen Aureylian and her (very young) daughter playing Minecraft?


I especially like the Zoo episode (http://youtu.be/kPMq0V_6KH8)

Would you need to dig into the source code for this? I thought there were just texture images that you could modify.

You would if you wanted to add it as a separate block type, or if you wanted to change non-visual properties of the block.

How did you dig through the source code? Dissasembling or is it somewhere available?

The code is all in minecraft.jar

I thought you were going to say you taught your children programming by creating algorithms visually through blocks. Otherwise they are pretending to be having fun.

Sorry for my meta-snark, but:

This is an example of bad editing of the title. The original one was much more descriptive and got to the core of what is interesting about this article. The edit has made the title bland and uninformative.

A controversial suggestion:

Mention a small indicator ('*' or '~') below or after a renamed title, clicking on which will show a log of the original title, the name of the admin who made the change and a footnote.

The original title could also be in a "title" element on the A tag so that hovering over it would show the original. (Not necessarily a better idea but involves no interface changes which the YC folks seem not to like doing.)

I clicked through after seeing original headline. It made sense. This means nothing to me at all. Aren't editors meant to make things more readable?

Fully agree with you. I saw the article earlier and thought I'd come back to read it and discovered that either its been edited or that this is a second article.

I've seen a comment or two about title-editing, but this is the first time I've observed it and I certainly agree.

This is a pointless edit: A useful, descriptive, non-sensational / non-opinionated title replaced with something that is just plain worse.

How did this even get started? Too much bitching / derailing about editorialized titles?

"How did this even get started?"

Well, the Hacker News guidelines[1] say:

> Please use the original title, unless it is misleading or linkbait.

This rule is frequently violated, because a lot of the times the original title is bad. So submitters that are used to reddit re-title the link, sometimes for worse and sometimes for the better.

But HN is pretty strict about the title rule, so they get edited back to the original pretty quickly.

[1] http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Weird. They've changed the rules. What you quoted seemed very weird to me since I'd sorta internalized the guidelines and it seems they got edited over the past year. See http://web.archive.org/web/20120222184108/http://ycombinator... for what they were a year ago.

You can make up a new title if you want, but if you put gratuitous editorial spin on it, the editors may rewrite it.

It seems that part has been thrown out the window and rewrites are no longer welcome. A shame.

It is a shame. As it stands now, the system "punishes" rule followers who leave the original, uninteresting title and thereby get no traction.

But those who rewrite the title to something more obviously relevant get decent views even if the submission is re-titled later.

That's why I think the removal of the "you can make up a new title [as long as it's not ridiculous]" rule is bizarre. Now you might as well break the rules to get out of /newest and then confuse everyone once it's on FP and edited back ;-)

The sad fact is a lot of people who create great content are really, really bad at titles.

Interesting that submitters are actually asked to do a handful of editing work that could probably be automated, but prevented from performing the subjective work of summarizing or restating that a human being is actually suited to.

Seems like a rule worth changing to me.

It appears the guidelines page got changed in the past year and the "You can make up a new title if you want, but if you put gratuitous editorial spin on it, the editors may rewrite it" clause has been removed :-(

Noticed that and was glad to see I wasn't the only one. Was it done by an admin? If it was, they need to take a cue from reddit admins.

What was the original title?

The actual amounts were 1500 MM SEK revenue (236 MM USD), and a 640 MM SEK (100 M USD) licensing fee/royalty to Notch, leaving that 580 MM (92 MM USD) profit. So that's 92 million on top of 100 million in effectively dividends to Notch (by pulling out that amount, he must be one of the Swedes paying most tax!)

I'll bet that at that level there are ways of paying less than the standard ~40-50% (or whatever the maximum tax rate is in Sweden) individual income tax.

E.g. I'll bet Bill Gates didn't personally pay (10s of) $billions in income taxes either.

That's correct. Gates would have been paying capital gains (rather than income taxes (except on his salary)), but has probably paid vast sums in taxes over time just due to the scale. He has shifted a lot of wealth from Microsoft stock holdings to his Cascade Investments. He holds roughly $20 billion in Microsoft, and $40 to $45 billion in Cascade. Gates would have paid a huge amount of capital gains taxes on that shift most likely (even if he managed to shield some or most of it; just 5% * $20 billion is still a billion in taxes).

Just as a side reference, the dividend and capital gains rate in Sweden is about 30%.

I still don't understand the appeal, which is obviously my problem, because there is certainly appeal. I've given the game some time, and I consider myself quite an avid gamer, but I just don't find it all that fun, interesting or entertaining.

Can someone explain why this thing exploded how it did?

I've been to the well many times on Minecraft.

On the family multiplayer server, I made sky houses out of giant mushrooms and bone dust. I made a hockey arena in the snow. I laid roads out of gravel (wood for bridges) that stretch for days of in-game time. There are waystations that you reach just as night is falling. We made a monster trap that drops tons of resources next to a powered railroad track, so you can get in a cart, whiz by monsters, after which they burn in lava, then their byproducts fall down a waterfall. I made an underwater dome out of glass.

My son loves this game and we play it together.

But there is also a special beauty when playing alone. You are marooned on a planet the size of earth. You have the power to keep yourself safe by your own efforts. You can explore vast caves to find treasure. You can light areas with torches to create zones of safety. You can grow crops and breed animals to feed yourself. You can look at the sunset through windows at your beach house, then go to bed. This is all with the tragic realization that virtually no one will appreciate your efforts (and in the game), so whatever experience or meaning you derive from it is for you alone. The world is by turns bleak, elegiac, beautiful.

Lately I've been playing hardcore mode, which gives you only one life to live and deletes the world when you die. It is easy to starve, so the first few days are scrambling just to get to a subsistent existence. It's hard even for veterans, and it turns up all that tragic stuff to 11.

There is in-game programming that people have used to make adders and ROMs and clocks. There are notes that you can use to make music (my doorbells play Raiders of the Lost Ark). You can make secret doors that open with pistons.

And that's all in the base game! Modders have had an endless field day with this game. It's now a game that contains other games, contains multitudes.

Best description of Minecraft I've ever read. Watching a beautiful scene unfold, alone, the urge to share the experience; knowing your structures won't be worth anything but still doing it for fun or to share with friends; it's something very unique. Few games generate the same kind of emotional attachment that minecraft does.

Minecraft is the closest I've gotten to my beginning days of gaming -- which was all about building things (SimCity, SimFarm, Civilization) and exploring (Moria, MUDs, and the joy of discovering easter eggs in any number of games.)

Commercial video game studios produce what are effectively interactive movies. Building and exploration take a back seat if they exist at all. I hardly game anymore, but I have high hopes for 0x10c.

I'm sure the social aspect is what hooks a number of people, myself included. I run a small whitelisted server for friends and family. It's fun to survive, create and build things by your own and orders of magnitude more fun with friends. I'm regularly on with at least one other person. We always on mumble while playing so we can chat. Go out and explore together ,etc.

Another thing that got me hooked is mods, specifically Minecraft Forge and the mods that are built on top of it. It's added so many new dimensions of gameplay.

Edit: To add there are also whole mini-games being build within vanilla Minecraft. SethBling is one map making genius. You can play his Super Smash Bros. style PvP map. Or try Vech's series of Complete the Monument style adventure/puzzle maps.

The many Let's Play Minecraft series on YouTube that should also be mentioned: Etho, BdoubleO100, Generikb, Direwolf20, KurtjMac, Guude and many more. Some of these have been YouTube partners for a while, Working at it full-time and producing ~30 minutes of content every day.

I'm like you, in that it doesn't appeal to me, but I think it's largely due to how much free time you have (or how much free time you make for yourself) – I can see how teenage-me would've loved it, but it seems too pointless to an adult me. I think it comes down to the question: is the end result of creating your own world worth the time investment you put into it?

When I game these days it usually has to have a good narrative so I can get something from it, rather than something open-ended and "pointless" like Minecraft or an MMORPG. Even the social elements of an MMORPG doesn't seem worth it, given the time-sink of all the level grinding and learning arcane key combinations and the like...

Its all about multiplayer and the social aspects.

If you're playing a single player world, sure it can lose its appeal pretty quickly.

But sharing your creations with your friends... walking them through something you just built... or going on adventures for specific resources together is soooooo much fun.

Everyone on voice chat via Mumble, with the Minecraft Wiki open on a second monitor....

Thats what minecraft is all about. I think a large part of its appeal has todo with it working so well in conjunction with other things. Like wiki softawre, and voice chat software, etc. Combine all these together and you really do have something special and infinitely entertaining.

It lets you build stuff using your own imagination. A fully destructable/reshapeable world.

I must admit after building my 3rd castle the novelty wore off, but I can understand why so many people love it.

It's lego for adults.

I'd got a bit tired of the vanilla game, but now I'm completely hooked on FTB, a modpack along the lines of Tekkit. The replayability through mods is one of the things driving the success of the game.

I think that's the main reason I personally can't get into the game.

As a programmer, my life revolves around creating stuff out of basic building blocks. Anything I can imagine.

With the added benefit that people actually pay me to do this stuff. Score!

It's more of a toy than a game, per se. The thing is, it's set up to generate great moments of gaming fun, but in a different way than a more scripted game is.

In a scripted game an NPC might give you a quest to go to some particular place and do a particular thing. In minecraft you create your own quests based on your own needs and desires. For example, you might decide that you want to create potions, for this you need netherwart, which you can only get from the nether realm, but to get to the nether realm you need obsidian, which can only be mined using diamond tools, so you start off by deciding to get diamond tools and mining some obsidian. To achieve that you may have to travel far distances, explore deep caverns, fight off hordes of monsters, and narrowly survive many threats. And along the way you are likely to have an experience that is just as exciting and just as memorable as any scripted quest.

Also, getting lost is a big deal in minecraft, which makes it a bit unlike many other games. Ending up several days walk from your home with no idea where you are and with night closing in and monsters soon to be everywhere is something you don't get in most games. You are far more in control of your fate in minecraft which makes your successes that much sweeter and your failures that much more painful.

It's not for everyone, and there's a good argument that the game is too easy once you've mastered it (although there's always hardcore permadeath mode) but there's no denying that there's a lot of fundamentally good gaming in there for people who enjoy the style of play.

It's the antithesis of the tightly scripted goal based game. Players are tired of the 'do this' , 'now go do this', 'now go do this' type games. Even so called 'sandbox games' like grand theft auto/skyrim, have highly scripted/predefined gameplay. Where a game like minecraft or scribblenauts, or crayon physics deluxe, says: Here's an engine with really fun toys, go play with them. Interestingly enough, that's all you really need to have a good game, million dollar cinematics optional.

I would argue that it isn't that the players are tired of the goal based games, but that a majority of gamers really like building stuff and playing around.

Personally, I'm one of the goal oriented ones, so it is hard for me to really get into minecraft. I usually set goals, try to achieve them, and move on to another game. I did get my money's worth with minecraft though.

I honestly think it would be better to not be so goal-oriented in my gaming, but I just can't let it go. I miss being a kid.

Actually it's a minority of gamers who like to create. The majority are goal based. Even games like Little Big Planet, which are all about creation, the number of players who actually create are relatively small, most people just play.

Minecraft's strength is that it appeals to both creators and non-creators.

How do you know that they aren't just creating but not sharing? Even I do that, goal-based as I am. I just don't spend as much time on it.

Good point. Although internally MediaMolecule (and Sony) will probably have very accurate stats on this via telemetry, you can get a rough idea by looking at what percentage of players have achieved which trophies.


In a game such as Little Big Planet, where it could be argued that the whole point is creating levels, less than 50% have got the "Creator" trophy, but most players have the trophies you get when you complete ready-made levels.

You can repeat the exercise with other creative games on console. Here's Minecraft XBLA (unfortunately the achievements chosen for this title are less enlightening).


It's true that tracking sites like Exophase and Raptr only track achievements from people who sign up. These sites cater to players who really care about achievements, so the results would be skewed in that direction (and which I would say is the opposite direction to creativity, which has intrinsic fun).

Thanks for that! It didn't occur to me to look at achievement data.

Don't any of you have kids? This is like crack cocaine for middle-school boys. Creating houses, weapons, hunting monsters, creating traps, exploring scary places...etc, etc, etc.

I do, and yes, every boy I know loves to play Minecraft. I'm sure there'll be a next thing, but it's really cool to see them get so much enjoyment out of an awesome game.

It basically broadsides all the major player personality types as well as being a textbook case for psychological flow.

For those who want to create, it offers virtually uninhibited creation. The world is a box of lego for you to play with. For those who want to explore, it offers infinite exploration, but there is no pressure to explore if you don't want to. For those who want to socialize, it offers multiplayer (and pets as allies), or you can enjoy the solitude. For those who want to kill or fight there are monsters, and for those who don't there is an option to switch them off. For those who want to collect, there are rare minerals. If you don't want to collect or build or grind, cheats are accepted by the creators and the community as a valid way to play.

In terms of flow, the day-night cycle changes the play context often. In standard play it offers a sense of pressure (for those who want it), while ensuring that the player never becomes too overwhelmed for too long, or becomes bored by a lack of action. The desirability of items that you can craft in the game is usually proportional to their usefulness, but also requires proportionally more effort to obtain. Crucially, most of the tools and items are non-essential or it's easy to craft basic versions that will make do. The free-form nature of the game and lack of extrinsic rewards makes it perfect for self-directed goals, which are essential for flow.

Its blocky art style is based on programmer art and technical limitations but has a functional purpose and carries a certain style. It's stylistic, not so cartoony as to put off adults, but so unrealistic that the zombies, spiders and skeletons are not scary enough to put off children (or the even the arachnophobic).

In terms of accessibility or usability it's awful. Crafting is virtually impossible without the wiki open, for example. Not even the basic mechanics are explained. There's no in-game help. There must be a significant number of people who have played the game only once because of that. Still, if you manage to persevere for an hour or so, you'll have a solid grasp of the concepts of the game. The difficulty is mostly self-directed, as per flow theory.

My question is, was all this deliberate? Does Notch have an calculating eye for game design, is it instinctual, or did he manage to hit on an excellent formula by chance? Can he repeat it?

At its core, it has an intensely addicting game loop where you mine for minerals and always feel like you are one block away from finding diamonds.

Beyond that, the world is very immersive and lets you create elaborate homes and environments (think HGTV for gamers). Now with more multiplayer features and it's fast becoming the "Counterstrike server" that all groups of gamer friends have.

We just set up a minecraft server for our startup, and it's awesome.

Setting up a minecraft server when you are trying to build a buisness seems like a big risk

Really? Not having fun with your team seems like an even bigger risk. Plus, what's the point of working your ass off and not enjoying your life? Not something I'm interested in.

Here Here! Our team used to play age of empires from time to time ... it really helps make for a good experience when you are friends with your co-workers. I know that's not always realistic, but I can say it's preferred.

Minecraft can suck hours away without even trying. That's all I'm saying. Foosball or ping pong fill that same void.

Oh, that's 100% true. But there is free time after work and we all grew up as gamers, so that's what we love to do in our free time.

All is fair in case of C++ ( http://xkcd.com/303/ )

I was in your boat, adult Legos is what it amounted to me. There have been some very impressive worlds created by communities with hundreds and hundreds of man hours, but still it just wasn't "my thing"

This however is a blast: http://www.aceofspades.com/

Perhaps I'm just evil, but I take more joy in destroying my opponents and their castles :)

It's fine that you don't like Minecraft.

> Perhaps I'm just evil, but I take more joy in destroying my opponents and their castles

This is possible on the right server! Some of them welcome PVP and griefing.

Somehow this seems obligatory http://i.imgur.com/p2axb.jpg

It never really grabbed me though i'm no way a critic, but watching from early on I think the phenomenon owes a lot to factors beyond the gameplay itself.

Sentiment against big budget games with poor gameplay had risen dramatically which was opening a bigger market for indie games where simple graphics were a badge of honor. Many of these titles lacked strong replay or the ability to play with friends. Releasing in such early alpha (for money) built a highly engaged fan base (as most closed alphas tend to be) and yet set expectations rather low. Notch's clear passion and close relationship with the community along with frequent updates did a lot to build a strong community that essentially became invested in his success at a personal level. The simplicity of the game also created a situation where seeing how much could be done with so little became a big part of the appeal or at least what grabbed outsider's attention. The result of all of that was a genuine grass roots movement that snowballed into an unstoppable promotion machine.

It's not to take away from the game or his skills at all, I have a ton of respect for him and what he built. But I think it's very unlikely Minecraft would have been much more than a blip if it had been released as a finished product by faceless game studio.

When I was a kid we had fun drawing 2D pictures on our computer with 16 colors at 40x24 resolution. I think Minecraft is this experience but in 3D, at a much higher resolution, and in a dynamic world with your friends (it also functions as the de facto standard BBS for kids).

Many good points made here; the one thing I think everyone missed is how exhilarating and SCARY MineCraft can be. If you have been spelunking in a labyrinthine cave system for (in-game) days and racked up a huge bag of loot, every monster around the corner (or over your shoulder) is alarming in a very real way. Getting killed doesn't just mean a manufactured in-game penalty ("go back to last save point") it means the possibility of literally losing everything you've just been working for and discovering.

It's basically Lego, but you can walk around in your creations, also with other people.

Basically what every kid has ever wanted.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me it's the tedium of construction plus the annoyance of checking the Minecraft wiki all the time that prevented this from grabbing me. The survival/exploration aspects might be bigger hits for me if it weren't for those drawbacks.

(And I still like Lego.)

True, the UI could certainly use improvement. Having a way to easily search your stuff and also view the recipes in-game would make it much more pleasant.

The in-game discovery of item recipes is something that's definitely lacking for new players. There's a great mod that fixes this, Not Enough Items (NEI). It adds a nice in-game gui that lists all of the items, what their recipes are and also what recipes they're used in.

You may like the crafting UI in the Minecraft version: http://cache.kotaku.com/assets/images/9/2011/11/0d9d9173d1a1...

The thing that bothered me most was the eternal groveling for resources when I'm trying to build something huge and awesome. Oh boy, my pickaxe broke, time to go spend another hour finding enough iron to make another.

Isn't that why creative mode exists?

Well, I should clarify, I like some challenge, I just sorta wish either mineral veins were bigger, or they were more common. I'm happy to go digging for diamond, I just wish it didn't take me an hour of random cave-wandering and digging only to find 2 lousy diamond blocks.

You're doing it wrong. Not that I can blame you - unless you take the time to work it out, or find someone else to tell you, it's easy to have trouble finding resources.

The key is knowing where they are, and the best way to get them. Diamonds are only near the bottom of the map, and the best way to find them is to dig long tunnels just above the lava layer. You take a few iron tools and some basic equipment with you, dig a long tunnel until you've broken half of your iron pickaxes, then dig a parallel tunnel back to where you started. You'll pick up enough iron to replace all the tools you broke and then some, a lot of coal, and a reasonable amount of rarer materials.

It's still time consuming, but tends to be much more effective than wandering around caves or digging randomly.

Or you could cheat, and use some mod that helps you find ore. There were mods that add xray vision, or auto maps that can show the position of hidden ores.

Or just use creative mode, if you just want to build stuff.

Capricious gods. No, the game is actually quite fun. Is really easy to create something new from scratch. The same way that as a kid one used to love playing with Legos.

On the other hand, what is the appeal of Facebook? Is just a glorified chat room.

I can't explain why it exploded but I have an observation I've pieced together watching a few of my friends play after some leave and some stick around.

Generally, if you don't have an idea for a project, for example, making a tree house, the game can get quite boring if setting up automatic resource gathering stuff isn't your thing.

Out of curiosity do you like other sandbox games like simcity or dwarf fortress?

Because you asked, yes, I love Sim City and The Sims series; haven't really given dwarf fortress much time.

Thanks! I've never played minecraft, I was just wondering if maybe the distinction is between sandbox and simulation? I'm probably getting the terms wrong but the games do seem very different in their goals and how they engage the player.


Simulation games tend to be top-down and focus on controlling large swaths of things from an abstract point of contact.

Sandbox games tend to be perspective-based and focus on controlling some single person or group of persons from an intimate point of contact.

Or, more pithily: In a simulation game, you pan; in a sandbox game, you walk.

Lego MMO done right.


legos are in finite supply and don't shoot back

Couldn't have happened to a greater bunch of indie gamers.

Also from the article here: "Markus Persson gave away his part, about 27 million, to the employees."

That was last year though. And it was 27 million SEK not USD.

edit: Just wanted to make it clear what the article said, it was not meant to sound negative. It is truly an awesome and very kind gesture from Markus!

Thanks for the clarification - looks like 27MM SEK = ~4MM USD. Still not a bad chunk of change.

And he gave away his share of the Mojang dividend. Mojang still paid him 400 M SEK in licensing fees in 2011, and another 640 in 2012, which amounts to nearly 200 million US dollars.

Not making a comment about how awesome or not-awesome giving away $4M USD is. Just adding context.

That changes everything!

Notch is one of my favorite people. The guy just feels so genuine. He loves games, and that's why he makes them. I'm glad he's done so well.

Check out Mojang's next project: http://0x10c.com/

Minecraft-sized space game? Where you have to program your ship?

Yes please!

Don't forget about scrolls!


..and if you haven't played it yet.. buy it now! it will not disappoint.


Wow, it just almost seems impossible that an indie game can be that successful. It's unfortunate that it's such a rarity, I'm sure there are hundreds of great games out there that languish.

If anyone wonders, the PC version is not the best seller (currently) for Mojang. The XBox version sells more than the PC version and the Pocket Edition (iOS, Android) sells more than both combined[1].

[1] http://www.mojang.com/2013/01/christmas-stat-attack/

But, maybe surprisingly, the PC version has been selling at a pretty constant pace for years now, between 8,000 and 12,000 copies per day. It never sold much more than that per day (certain peaks excluded), so demand is not shrinking, strangely enough.

Daily stats for the PC version here: http://minecraft.net/stats

Java on the Desktop... in a biiig way.

My son loves it, especially building complicated redstone devices -- kind of a form of in-game programming.

It could have succeeded without being in Java... it's the game's design and concepts that make it successful. Though to be fair, it helps make multiplatform availability easier.

There are some basic C++ and C# Minecraft clients that people made for fun, but the real benefit of Java is how mod-able it is. There's actually a lot of tools for taking apart the minecraft.jar and putting it back together with new features.

I don't disagree... it was merely an observation. The largest-selling game currently available just happens to run on desktop Java... and the consensus I see recently around here is that Desktop Java is dead -- I like to point out that millions of homes are actively using it, even if only to play a game that really isn't dependent on what one would typically think of when they think 'desktop Java'.

Probably a few users of Eclipse out there, as well.

With the amount of money that enterprise has invested in Java, it'll probably follow a similar trajectory to COBOL where "dead" isn't really dead.

It's not the largest selling game, but might be the largest selling non-AAA, non-casual, PC-game of recent years.

I think one of the major points that sold the game is that there is (was?) a stripped-down demo of the game that ran right there on the page.

Not sure whether you want to buy? Just press that button there...

And yet had it not been Java you would have said that it could never have succeeded in Java. Somebody is butt hurt.

If he enjoys redstone, you should also try out the ComputerCraft mod [1]. It's a full lua environment inside minecraft and you can write programs to output redstone signals to things like doors. The most interesting thing is the ability to program "turtles" -- programmable robots capable of mining/crafting for you.

Videos are probably the easiest way to see the possibilities of the mod.

[1] http://www.computercraft.info/

Hadn't heard of this, I'm checking it out now, Thank you!

This may get me the rest way into Minecraft... I've been wanting to write an L-system generator for large-scale objects and this sounds like it may be just the ticket.

Why do you keep changing the title

Congrats are in order for Notch and his team. Thanks for the great game and we are all looking forward to 0x10c. :D

Is it just me or is the whole article in Swedish?

Not just you. The Google translation is not that great, either.

To the OP, HN is not a Swedish language site.

It was submitted with the title "Minecraft brought in $92 million net in 2012". The linked URL is the original source and when it was submitted, there were no translations available.

Yet another example of mods removing context from a title

We've been tracking Minecraft's public sales over time: http://minecraft-sales.herokuapp.com. That's only for the PC version. We estimate that sales of Minecraft across other platforms at least double that revenue.


It's very stable for me on Win7, I've had very few issues and none that I'd consider a show-stopper. I also don't think the game would have reached such large revenues if it was as bad as you suggest.

Rather, I think you may instead be highlighting the problems of producing a cross-platform game -- especially when the given target OS has a something like a 1% desktop market share.

It's also a fallacy to suggest that more money == immediately better development, such as illustrated in 'The Mythical Man-Month'. The revenues should indeed help them to build better teams and processes, but one can't realistically expect that to happen overnight.

I totally understand what you're saying. However consider you make a piece of software with tons of adoring fans and paying users. You make a ton of money (for arguments sake lets say...$92 million). You probably wouldn't find it hugely necessary to invest in making the improvements to annoying bugs that detract from immersion.

I've never used Minecraft and actually I haven't a clue what it is. I just know that from a business perspective it sounds like there is no need for the makers of this program to invest in correcting its problems. The market seems to think the software is fantastic.


I suggest checking the release notes before assuming this. Most of what's been going on with minecraft over the past several releases has been targeted at addressing gameplay issues and bug fixes[1][2].

[1] Stable Releases - http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Version_history [2] Development Releases - http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Version_history/Developmen...

Listen, I'm not saying that the makers of the program are not interested in making it better. I would hope, and assume, that anyone who spends a lot of time writing code wants it to work as well as possible.

The comment I replied to implied that since they made so much money it is somehow odd that he is still able to find problems that perhaps have existed over several versions. My point is simply that making lots of money could demotivate someone from working harder to perfect it if the market is telling them that the product is pretty damn good as it is.

> I just know that from a business perspective it sounds like there is no need for the makers of this program to invest in correcting its problems

The programmers are active on Reddit, twitter and youtube. There have been several examples of people posting information about bugs or suggestions and those things being implemented.

Gotta love these guys, great game too, something I play with the kids and we all love it.

A great documentary you can download with ads on it from PirateBay, or buy a full copy:

PB Free with Ads: http://thepiratebay.se/search/story%20of%20mojang

Purchase for $8 (US): http://redux.com/minecraft-movie

Congratulations to the Minecraft team, well deserved. Hopefully this serves as inspiration to other indie devs working on their projects.

Ooops, I paid twice - gift for son of my cousin (yay!) and for myself. How he could go on an adventure and I would not follow? Also, trying to login while he was offline felt so cheap.

After we started building together I tried to destroy our island in many ways, including dying with handfuls of equipment, but am getting better fast.

P.S. Not that I didn't want to play MC in the first place...

My son plays several games online including Minecraft, League of Legends, Clash of Clans and Lost Saga. Minecraft is the only one out of these which doesn't have any pernicious "in app purchase" or online game credit system. I totally admire the fact that Mojang haven't stooped to this level of trying to gouge money from their customers pockets.

Its gratifying to see Notch benefit from some really creative work. I do not believe that Minecraft, as a building game, would not have been touched by any of the 'major' studios had he proposed it to them directly. The games industry is a bit crusty in that way.

My wife and I play Minecraft with our two sons and their friends, and we have a blast with it. We have a family server running on an old Mac mini, a whitelist for family and friends to jump on whenever they want. Minecraft is absolutely brilliant.


Minecraft is owned by Markus (Notch). Mojang licenses the game from Notch. The biggest cost was paying Notch, which was ~640 million. Also, worth noting that this is a Swedish article, it's SEK not USD. 1 USD is about 6 SEK. The revenue was closer to $250,000,000 USD.

The article answers this. "The biggest cost, 640 million, are license fees to Minecraft Creator and Mojangdelägaren Markus "Notch" Persson".

Sorry, I was a victim of the translation, I think. I see the clarification now. Sorry, I tried to delete before replies, but a couple of you got in beforehand, apparently.

I remember when I bought Minecraft, at the time Minecraft had grossed less than 100 Euros. I wish I could go back and tell myself that the game was going to gross 1,500,000,000 SEK... hah.

A hypothetical question I'd like to have some possible answer to:

What would've happened if Minecraft were made open source? How would that alternative reality be different from our current one?

One thing I wish I could do is import mesh models into Minecraft. Just so I can write scientific papers featuring Minecraft visualizations and analysis ;)

And to think Mojang would have been known as a "lifestyle" business by many people (no outside funding, etc.).

Nice, hopefully they will invest in Reborn(A vaporware game told to be the new Quake.).

Lego Group, 758 million in 2011. There's your target Minecraft.

The awesome thing is that it is written in Java. All the Java haters (I'm looking at you Ruby developers) wish it weren't so.

I dislike Java to develop in. I don't dislike software just because it's written in Java, nor do I wish that everything written in Java wasn't.

I'm a Ruby dev with no feelings about Java (never programmed in it).

I've gotta say these kind of posts piss me off. A programming language is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. Certain tools are better than others for certain jobs.

I feel the same. A programming language is just a tool. And yet your ilk have been bashing it for way too long. Maybe not you, but a vocal group of Ruby developers have.

I program in C,C++,Java,VBA,JavaScrip,PL-SQL and I've even dabbled in Ruby, Perl and LISP. However, I still find it offensive that some noob Ruby developers think somehow that they are the chosen ones and can bash other developers without expecting any backlash.

Preemptively "anti-fanboying" doesn't really raise the level of discourse.

And I can only assume that Java is why it runs at a crawl even at startup. But then, I only have 4 GB of RAM, enough to play pretty much every AAA game of today, but I guess Minecraft's ~cutting edge graphics~ are too complex.

I am skeptical of this claim, and I've spent a decent amount of time both writing C++ for games and in the Java guts of Minecraft. At one point it had pretty significant perf problems due to naive drawing behaviors; it does no longer and is pretty solidly optimized--though there's not much you can do about GC pauses, it doesn't really impact the gameplay.

Keep trying, though. You'll snark well someday.

Whoa, that is harsh. Is it ok I am a ruby developer that likes java?

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