"Anyway, my price is two billion dollars."
September 15, 2014 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Two years ago, Notch of Minecraft fame, posted a tweet that mockingly said "Anyway, my price is two billion dollars. Give me two billion dollars, and I'll endorse your crap. Earlier last week, rumors started going around that Microsoft was interested in buying Minecraft and its developers, Mojang. And today, it is official. Microsoft has bought Minecraft and Mojang for 2.5 billion dollars.
posted by ymgve (302 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know exactly what Notch plans to do with $2.5 billion, but I certainly know what I would try to do.
posted by ymgve at 7:00 AM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


Notch's statement on leaving Minecraft
posted by donovan at 7:03 AM on September 15, 2014 [22 favorites]


notch's statement - "It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity."

i find myself wondering if the attack on indies that came pretty soon after the eula kerfuffle sealed the deal for him.
posted by nadawi at 7:03 AM on September 15, 2014 [9 favorites]


What about the other editions of Minecraft? Will they stop being developed?

There’s no reason for the development, sales, and support of the PC/Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Vita, iOS, and Android versions of Minecraft to stop. Of course, Microsoft can’t make decisions for other companies or predict the choices that they might make in the future.

We’re extremely proud of all editions and the awesome things you have achieved through playing together.

Is the game going to change? Will we still be able to make videos, mods, awesome builds, and all the cool stuff we’ve created over the past few years?

Minecraft will continue to evolve, just like it has since the start of development. We don’t know specific plans for Minecraft’s future yet, but we do know that everyone involved wants the community to grow and become even more amazing than it’s ever been. Stopping players making cool stuff is not in anyone’s interests.


My reaction to this can be characterized as Extreme Side Eye. Notice also the lack of affirmative or negative responses; that's some serious weasel language. "There's no reason for it to change!" doesn't mean it won't. "Everyone wants Minecraft to continue to be awesome!" But Microsoft may also decide that doesn't include free-for-all modding.

In conclusion: Phhpppt.
posted by emjaybee at 7:04 AM on September 15, 2014 [17 favorites]


Welp.
posted by Artw at 7:04 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


This post isn't complete without Notch's reasons.

Seems to me he couldn't handle the success of his art and the pressure assholes put him under because of it. There are worse ways for that to end than selling it for $2.5
Billion.
posted by Jimbob at 7:05 AM on September 15, 2014 [31 favorites]


But Microsoft may also decide that doesn't include free-for-all modding.

Probably a good thing. The way that modding works now just makes a programmer shake his head and sigh.
posted by smackfu at 7:07 AM on September 15, 2014


But Microsoft may also decide that doesn't include free-for-all modding.

Well Minecraft doesn't really have free-for-all modding. They promised a modding API two years ago. As of now you still have to reverse-engineer their code. But yeah I got the same thing out of that statement as you - there's no *reason* for anything to change, but hey it's their company so they will do what they like.
posted by Jimbob at 7:08 AM on September 15, 2014


The way that modding works now just makes a programmer shake his head and sigh.

Badly coded modding is still better than no modding.
posted by ymgve at 7:09 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


Minecraft 2 will be announced shortly, as a Xbox One exclusive.

Seriously though, good for notch to get out if it wasn't making him happy. I think the toll it took on him is evident from this:

If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.
posted by papercrane at 7:09 AM on September 15, 2014 [16 favorites]


Mods have kept MC alive, on the PC at least.
posted by bonehead at 7:09 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


The tech PR people need a new dictionary -- "amazing," "cool stuff," "awesome." Feh. So played.

Anyway. Good for those Mojang folks getting a big payday!
posted by notyou at 7:12 AM on September 15, 2014


*whispers* Give Tim money for Psychonauts 2...
posted by kmz at 7:12 AM on September 15, 2014 [15 favorites]


So uh... huh. I'm not going to resent anyone making a commerical decision for something they own, but I can imagine some people being very upset with this. I understand that minecraft has meaning to a lot of people, especially the many children who have played and explored with it. I was planning on introducing my son to it when he was older. Of course, being purchased by microsoft doesn't necessarily alter that, but having spent 2 billion dollars (What?) to purchase it I imagine they'll want to make a return on that investment.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:14 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I only hope Microsoft can remove Herobrine.
posted by Jimbob at 7:14 AM on September 15, 2014 [36 favorites]


I understand company valuations are a bit skewed these days but couldn't Microsoft do something more productive with that 2 billion like buy some social media website?
posted by vuron at 7:15 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's a shame Mojang couldn't have held out long enough to get some kind of official mod support into Minecraft. I can't imagine Microsoft putting up with the current state of affairs, in which almost everyone runs a version of Minecraft that has been hacked by the community (it gets re-hacked every time Mojang releases a new version of the game).
posted by straight at 7:16 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was hoping that Fuku Shitu would prepare a bid at the last minute.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:16 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's $1.5 billion more than they paid for Skype. If you forgot.
posted by Jimbob at 7:16 AM on September 15, 2014 [25 favorites]


The only silver lining in this is the delicious tears of all the assholes who harassed Notch over the years. Good luck trolling whatever PR drone at Microsoft is assigned to deal with you jerks.
posted by straight at 7:18 AM on September 15, 2014 [55 favorites]


I've heard that the big pay day is getting laid off and the severance is almost nil. Notch and business partner are taking the money and running, loyal workers be damned is the rumour.
posted by Yowser at 7:18 AM on September 15, 2014


Where'd you hear that, then?
posted by Jimbob at 7:20 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, now they have something that runs at 60FPS on the XBox One.

(c) Paul Thurrot

The avalanche of butthurt entitlement is gonna be GREAT.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 7:21 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Argh, I was hoping that this was a rumor, and knew that it was not. Having just gotten back into Minecraft over the last few months, I don't know the last time I played vanilla Minecraft. The not-so-secret sauce of that game is the modding and modding community. I have a hard time believing that Microsoft will allow the current state of affairs to continue, where modding is pretty much open and anyone can do it. I can't say that I'm up on the current state of videogames and so on, but they've never been particularly open to that sort of thing.
posted by X-Himy at 7:21 AM on September 15, 2014


many people i'm reading on twitter, including some that have sold their startups for large amounts of cash to big companies, seem to agree that notch lost money in the long run by selling. this is a very good get for microsoft and they will totally make their money on this. between all the toys, and tshirts, and the movie, and on and on - minecraft is a cash cow.
posted by nadawi at 7:21 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Jimbob: "This post isn't complete without Notch's reasons.

Seems to me he couldn't handle the success of his art and the pressure assholes put him under because of it. There are worse ways for that to end than selling it for $2.5
Billion.
"

But but, gamers are all nice and sincere and wonderful people and how DARE you tell us otherwise, press, game devs, women, etc...

So basically it's all about the IP. I was wondering if there would be a clause about staying on for x amount of time, but apparently it's just the IP and the few people who still work at Mojang? How many of them will stay? What a very weird thing. That's just fucking insane, and maybe this can finally be the start of the pop of the bubble finally?
posted by symbioid at 7:21 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Good for Notch. Seems like a good guy who might be able to keep his head on straight enough to stay decent even if drowning in money. And I don't blame him for selling out. Being successful can be almost as miserable as being a failure in the US these days, so hopefully he'll come out okay in the end and still be in a position to do what he loves--maybe even with less bullshit to deal with.

I've heard that the big pay day is getting laid off and the severance is almost nil. Notch and business partner are taking the money and running, loyal workers be damned is the rumour.

I'd have to see this rumor substantiated before I gave it any credit.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:22 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


That is a fuckton of money.

Notch and business partner are taking the money and running, loyal workers be damned is the rumour.

Really? That doesn't sound particularly like Notch given what I've read from him.
posted by OmieWise at 7:22 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


well the dude who wrote the announcement who works for mojang said most of the team is probably moving to microsoft, so being the being laid off part doesn't seem true.
posted by nadawi at 7:24 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, that's Minecraft fucked then.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:24 AM on September 15, 2014


seem to agree that notch lost money in the long run by selling.

Why would he care? Why would any individual care? I appreciate that he personally won't get allll that money, but I imagine his personal wealth following this will be fine. This is hardly selling your stocks in google at year zero and kicking yourself, this is selling your stocks in google bought at year zero now and then going off to live on an island somewhere, laughing and drinking cocktails.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:25 AM on September 15, 2014 [28 favorites]


And I don't particularly blame Notch. He gets a lot of crap, a lot of undeserved crap. Minecraft brings a lot of people joy and fun, but entitled assholes seem to think that they are owed more. Would it be nice if the game did this or that, or that there was a solid modding API? Sure. But considering the price I paid to get it in alpha, I've gotten my value back a billion times over. As have dozens of people earning a living on Minecraft-based professions.
posted by X-Himy at 7:25 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


I feel like this is a terrible decision by Microsoft and the money would have been better invested basically anywhere else. I guess they could make a whole new line of Minecraft stuff and franchise it?

Despite all the ports, though, it's primarily a Windows joint and Microsoft has this weird contempt for the PC as a gaming platform, so I... I dunno. They just seem so incoherent these days. I mean, they're losing a platform war to Sony, of all companies.
posted by selfnoise at 7:27 AM on September 15, 2014


many people i'm reading on twitter, including some that have sold their startups for large amounts of cash to big companies, seem to agree that notch lost money in the long run by selling.

I mean really once you hit a billion dollars, how much more do you need? Notch just wants to be rid of the thing so he can make his silly indy games in peace.
posted by empath at 7:27 AM on September 15, 2014 [24 favorites]


I'm sort of amazed that his post mentions (Mefi's own IIRC?) This is Phil Fish. But yeah, I totally sympathize. He's had a lot of shit dumped on him over the years. I just hope he can find himself in a place where he can be happy.
posted by Zarkonnen at 7:27 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]



I've heard that the big pay day is getting laid off and the severance is almost nil. Notch and business partner are taking the money and running, loyal workers be damned is the rumour.
[Citation needed]
posted by Twain Device at 7:28 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Mojang doesn't actually own the Minecraft IP. They license it from Notch and have paid him (from what I've read online) about $100m/year.

It would be interesting to see if this situation carries on with MS and what happens to Mojang's other games.
posted by PenDevil at 7:28 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Despite all the ports, though, it's primarily a Windows joint and Microsoft has this weird contempt for the PC as a gaming platform, so I... I dunno.

What makes you think about it's about the PC?

Do you what the number one selling game on tablets is? Minecraft. Do you know which mobile platform doesn't have minecraft?
posted by empath at 7:28 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


guys i read on neogaf that notch is taking all the money and shooting all the developers so they never make something so beautiful again and moving to the moon to rule as Moon King
posted by griphus at 7:29 AM on September 15, 2014 [96 favorites]


Also if anyone wants a free Minecraft clone try out Minetest.
posted by PenDevil at 7:29 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also, I am so holding off on tweeting something snarky along the lines of "Dear gamers, this is what you get for being unremitting shitbuckets. Now take your #gamergate and #notyourshield and go compost yourself somewhere."
posted by Zarkonnen at 7:31 AM on September 15, 2014 [18 favorites]


If I was prone to "low mood" (I hate to amateur diagnose via twitter but he stated as much publicly - he probably has depression) and my next of kin (father) had recently commited suicide after a life long battle with depression then I'd try to minimise my exposure to triggers. And if a trigger for me was vicious internet hate campaigns then I'd probably take the money when someone offered to pay me more than I needed to live my life in luxury just to take the source of the hate off my hands.

I can totally understand the thought process here. People suggesting he sold cheap are missing the point. This was causing him pain, very very deep pain, and millions more than a billion are irrelevant.
posted by samworm at 7:31 AM on September 15, 2014 [27 favorites]


I bet GRR Martin would take the same deal, were it offered to him.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:32 AM on September 15, 2014 [16 favorites]


I wonder if notch is the guy that was randomly donating vast amounts of money to twitch streamers.
posted by empath at 7:34 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


That's one notch Microsoft can't put in its belt
posted by Renoroc at 7:34 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


Jimbob: It's $1.5 billion more than they paid for Skype. If you forgot.

nadawi: between all the toys, and tshirts, and the movie, and on and on - minecraft is a cash cow.

That's the key difference between Skype and Minecraft: one is a valuable video conference platform with a large existing userbase, while the other is a whole friggin' brand to franchise and expand. There won't be any Skype movies, but after the LEGO movie and seeing a ton of Minecraft branded t-shirts in every chain store anywhere, a Minecraft movie doesn't seem so far-fetched.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:34 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I bet GRR Martin would take the same deal, were it offered to him.

"Mr. Martin we're willing to offer you $2.5 billion dollars for Minecraft."
"I don't know what that is but you got yourself a deal."
posted by griphus at 7:35 AM on September 15, 2014 [133 favorites]


That's one notch Microsoft can't put in its belt

I don't know. Some of the headlines to my reading seem to suggest Microsoft actually bought Notch for 2.5 billion:

Microsoft to Buy Creator of Minecraft for $2.5 Billion
posted by saulgoodman at 7:36 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


It doesn't really matter if Notch is a nice guy though or what his reasons for selling out are, the reality is that he gets the money while those who have arguably invested just as much in it do not. Of course the existing Minecraft communities will be shafted by Microsoft because the sort of community and businesses that could spring up under Notch's benign neglegence is fundamentally impossible within a commercial organisation the size of Microsoft.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:36 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


empath: "Do you know which mobile platform doesn't have minecraft?"

3DS?
posted by graventy at 7:36 AM on September 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


I will sell GRR Martin for $2.5 billion dollars.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:36 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


My 14 year old son - Minecraft player for a few years - on hearing the news commented "They'll probably add Clippy for Minecraft: It looks like you're punching a tree, would you like some help with that?".
posted by IncognitoErgoSum at 7:37 AM on September 15, 2014 [59 favorites]


i wasn't saying he sold at a loss to say he made the wrong choice, but rather that those who are saying microsoft paid too much are wrong about that.
posted by nadawi at 7:37 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


a Minecraft movie doesn't seem so far-fetched.

Picture it... A terra-forming company implements their genesis device on a new planet, but there's a problem, due to errors in calculation, advanced life-forms with dangerous intentions have also spawned. The company sent out their best explorer to get the situation under control, but haven't heard from him in months. So now they send out their second best, a guy named Steve, to solve the planet's mysteries and find out what happened to Herobrine.
posted by drezdn at 7:39 AM on September 15, 2014 [12 favorites]


Clippy has been gone for almost as long as your son has been alive. The internet has a long memory.
posted by smackfu at 7:39 AM on September 15, 2014 [41 favorites]


"Do you know which mobile platform doesn't have minecraft?"

Well, Windows has Minecraft, and looking at the Intel tea leaves it seems really unlikely that lots of future Microsoft tablets will be running on ARM so I'm not sure I see your point.
posted by selfnoise at 7:40 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine works for a Danish game dev company that recently got bought out by Microsoft. He's said there has been basically no interference from them as far as what they're developing but that being said a) I sincerely doubt they paid $2.5B to acquire that company and b) their games don't have anything resembling the community, technical or brand scope of Minecraft.
posted by griphus at 7:40 AM on September 15, 2014


"If you don’t hang around with Children Of A Certain Age, you might not know exactly what is being bought here. They’re functionally purchasing a generation. Two billion dollars starts to look like a steal." - Jerry Holkins (Tycho of Penny Arcade)
posted by straight at 7:41 AM on September 15, 2014 [39 favorites]


It doesn't really matter if Notch is a nice guy though or what his reasons for selling out are, the reality is that he gets the money while those who have arguably invested just as much in it do not.

Sure but he's not obligated to keep letting "fans" of his work make his life miserable either, is he? And there's been no actual evidence offered that he's somehow shafting other Mojang employees in this deal. If there are Mojang employees complaining over the next few weeks, I'm sure we'll hear about it then.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:42 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


It doesn't really matter if Notch is a nice guy though or what his reasons for selling out are, the reality is that he gets the money while those who have arguably invested just as much in it do not.

But this is a critique of capitalism and IP law, not Notch. Workers don't invest anything in anything under this system. They are paid to do a job. I wish that were not true, but it's certainly not Notch's fault.

The more concerning thing is that in the US, at least, the budgets for really seriously needed social and medical programs are in the 10s of millions. Minecraft, as fun as it is, is a fucking game.
posted by OmieWise at 7:42 AM on September 15, 2014 [14 favorites]


the reality is that he gets the money while those who have arguably invested just as much in it do not.

I'd like to hear someone make that "argument" because I find it...pretty thin.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:42 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


What I find frustrating about this whole development is that this seems to be the best Notch can think off doing, getting a shitload of money he doesn't need, rather than say recreating Mojang/Minecraft into e.g. some sort of non-profit foundation that could keep a proper community going indefinately. That's how our culture is disappearing.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:43 AM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


Any thought on to-what-degree-if-any Microsoft will/must honour the "every version of Minecraft forever" that us early adopters supposedly bought?
posted by 256 at 7:44 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wish that were not true, but it's certainly not Notch's fault.

It is his fault that he wanted to participate in this when he didn't need to.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:44 AM on September 15, 2014


What I find frustrating about this whole development is that this seems to be the best Notch can think off doing, getting a shitload of money he doesn't need, rather than say recreating Mojang/Minecraft into e.g. some sort of non-profit foundation that could keep a proper community going indefinately.

That's a really interesting idea. I wish he had done that.
posted by OmieWise at 7:45 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


...getting a shitload of money he doesn't need, rather than say recreating Mojang/Minecraft into e.g. some sort of non-profit foundation that could keep a proper community going indefinately.

Even beyond the fact that "money he doesn't need" is a phrase that means nothing, the amount of work one would have to put into to make something like that happen is immense. He clearly doesn't want to be shackled to Minecraft anymore, so someone else would have to do it, so it'd have to be, in some way, sold or transferred to someone else anyway.

Meanwhile, notch just got $2.5B for his game. He could start a non-profit foundation for anything he wants, with funds to put most existing non-profit foundations to shame, and he gets the added benefit of never having to deal with Minecraft or its userbase again.
posted by griphus at 7:46 AM on September 15, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'm guessing that notch needs to not have millions of people feeling like they have a say in the way he runs his life.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:46 AM on September 15, 2014 [59 favorites]


It is his fault that he wanted to participate in this when he didn't need to.

Well, I guess. It's also my fault for perpetuating late-stage capitalism for buying the game. But I'm not sure how far that argument really goes, practically.
posted by OmieWise at 7:47 AM on September 15, 2014


My 14 year old son - Minecraft player for a few years - on hearing the news commented "They'll probably add Clippy for Minecraft..."

Wasn't Clippy dead before he was born? What kind of parenting have you been doing, teaching him about Clippy?
posted by thelonius at 7:47 AM on September 15, 2014 [41 favorites]


What I find frustrating about this whole development is that this seems to be the best Notch can think off doing

To be fair to notch, he's not the only shareholder of Mojang. Notch did not just get 2.5B dollars, he got a sizeable piece of it, but there are other founders and stake holders in this deal. Him standing in the way of this deal would be screwing other people out of a lot of money.
posted by papercrane at 7:48 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


What kind of parenting have you been doing, teaching him about Clippy?

Would you rather he learn about Clippy on the street?
posted by griphus at 7:48 AM on September 15, 2014 [170 favorites]


What I find frustrating about this whole development is that this seems to be the best Notch can think off doing, getting a shitload of money he doesn't need, rather than say recreating Mojang/Minecraft into e.g. some sort of non-profit foundation that could keep a proper community going indefinately.

Something not full of depressing drama and contentious infighting, like Wikimedia Foundation you mean?
posted by saulgoodman at 7:48 AM on September 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


Notch found out that it's very hard to own something and bear no responsibility for it. It doesn't matter if you have no day-to-day interaction, you still are the ultimate boss. The easiest way to resolve that is to sell it. Now if people complain about Minecraft to him, he can literally do nothing about it.
posted by smackfu at 7:48 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sorry to reference this yet again, but I made a list of all the ways Notch's design for Minecraft was genius. There's not a single thing that the other Mojang people have added to Minecraft that is remotely as great as any of these things.

Mojang has done pretty good work keeping Minecraft going as it's exploded into a world-wide phenomenon, but I'd still say Notch deserves 98% of the credit for everything that Minecraft has become (or maybe that Notch deserves 60% of the credit and YouTube and the mod community deserve 48%).
posted by straight at 7:49 AM on September 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


What I find frustrating about this whole development is that this seems to be the best Notch can think off doing, getting a shitload of money he doesn't need, rather than say recreating Mojang/Minecraft into e.g. some sort of non-profit foundation that could keep a proper community going indefinately. That's how our culture is disappearing.

I doubt the investors he had to take money from to get this far would agree to that... which is how the system reproduces itself this way. But, aside from that, you'd have to believe in a lot more than doing fun programming projects and making 'silly' games to turn down a billion dollars.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:50 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


It is not overvalued - Minecraft made $130M last year and it is pretty reasonable to think it is on track to make more (maybe like $200/250M ) this year. A sequel, if handled properly and developed with a proper budget could easily be a $500M release.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 7:51 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


What I find frustrating about this whole development is that this seems to be the best Notch can think off doing, getting a shitload of money he doesn't need, rather than say recreating Mojang/Minecraft into e.g. some sort of non-profit foundation that could keep a proper community going indefinately. That's how our culture is disappearing.

With reactions like this, it's almost hard to believe that Notch decided to take the money rather than force himself to work at Minecraft for the rest of his life.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:52 AM on September 15, 2014 [44 favorites]


Fucking good on him. Guy kinda reminds me of Woz. I'm glad he's getting the deal Woz probably deserved. Best of luck to him. I wish him happy gnomish tinkering in his private moon base.
posted by echocollate at 7:52 AM on September 15, 2014 [27 favorites]


notch lost money in the long run by selling

I can't imagine how much money you would have to get 5 years from now that would be worth more (in lost opportunity cost) than 2.5 billion today. Five years of being a billionaire might be worth a trillion dollars.
posted by straight at 7:56 AM on September 15, 2014 [13 favorites]


It's also my fault for perpetuating late-stage capitalism for buying the game.

As a consumer you have a lot less freedom of action than as somebody already worth millions if not tens of millions of dollars though.

We should stop thinking of Notch/Mojang as this quirky little indy game developer when it makes well over $100 million a year from Minecraft.

I doubt the investors he had to take money from to get this far would agree to that

They already got their money. Again. $100 million plus per year.

Notch decided to take the money rather than force himself to work at Minecraft for the rest of his life.

He doesn't need to work at Minecraft for the rest of his life, but neither does he need to seel it to Microsoft in order to walk away from it. There are other options. He's already been very well rewarded for his work, has gotten the kind of money none of us here will ever see in a lifetime.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:56 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wasn't Clippy dead before he was born? What kind of parenting have you been doing, teaching him about Clippy?
Dead but not quite forgotten... plus, had too many old computers kicking around at home when he was younger. He claims to actually have interacted with Clippy for real in some long forsaken version of Word.

I'm sorry, I have failed as a father.
posted by IncognitoErgoSum at 7:59 AM on September 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


vuron: "I understand company valuations are a bit skewed these days but couldn't Microsoft do something more productive with that 2 billion like buy some social media website?"

According to my calculations, $2.5bn is about £1.5bn, the same as the UK Treasury predicted it would cost to set up an independent Scotland.
posted by Auz at 8:00 AM on September 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


A sequel, if handled properly and developed with a proper budget could easily be a $500M release.

You are way low-balling the amount of money that Minecraft 2 would make.
posted by empath at 8:01 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I doubt the investors he had to take money from to get this far would agree to that...

I don't believe that minecraft had a significant amount of outside investment. It was programmed by one guy and was making money hand over fist from the beginning. I'm actually kind of shocked Notch's former employer never sued him over writing the game on the clock, though.
posted by empath at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Look at it this way... Whatever Notch does with those billions of dollars is definitely going to be massively more interesting, innovative, open and fun than whatever else Microsoft would have done with them.

So it's probably awesome news, really!
posted by dickasso at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


He doesn't need to work at Minecraft for the rest of his life, but neither does he need to seel it to Microsoft in order to walk away from it. There are other options.

Of all devs I can think of, notch has been one to repeatedly demonstrate his largesse to both charity and the gaming community. He's shown quite often that he has no problem throwing large amounts of money at things that no one else does. He's not (just) going to be swimming around in his $2.5B like Uncle Scrooge; the money will be going toward some amazing, insane shit and I really look forward to that.
posted by griphus at 8:03 AM on September 15, 2014 [23 favorites]


We should stop thinking of Notch/Mojang as this quirky little indy game developer when it makes well over $100 million a year from Minecraft.

We should try to avoid looking at people and seeing dollar signs. Notch is not the sum of his wealth. He isn't Bill Gates, who started out intent on building an empire, was temperamentally and constitutionally suited to it, and spun off his billions to do wonderful charity work. Criticizing Notch for not being a Socially Ideal Media Mogul seems petty.
posted by echocollate at 8:06 AM on September 15, 2014 [17 favorites]


the money will be going toward some amazing, insane shit and I really look forward to that.

Yeah, I just have a real philosophical problem with having any individual with that kind of power, you cannot be on the left and not be bothered by the notion that its's a good idea to have billionaires driving public policy and priorities through their charities, no matter how well intended.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:07 AM on September 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


He doesn't need to work at Minecraft for the rest of his life, but neither does he need to seel it to Microsoft in order to walk away from it. There are other options. He's already been very well rewarded for his work, has gotten the kind of money none of us here will ever see in a lifetime.

But then he would have to believe in a lot more than working on fun tech projects. It's why 'Real Genius' is a Hollywood fantasy. Real nerds will always take the money from some defense contractor or Microsoft or Steve Jobs in order to keep playing with their toys. Notch crossed that bridge when he got rich off of minecraft the first time.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:07 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I want to see some kind of followup to Notch's quote, "Once sales start dying and a minimum time has passed, I will release the game source code as some kind of open source."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not mad in the slightest, I just think seeing the alternative clause spelled out would be fun. "If sales never start dying and instead grow to ludicrous, unthinkable heights, I will sell everything and become a billionaire! A billionaire, I tell you!!1!"

I do reserve the right to retract "not mad in the slightest" if Microsoft ends up disabling support for Linux or Mac or older versions down the road. My daughter barely got started playing!
posted by roystgnr at 8:07 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Without commenting on anything else Penny Arcade has ever done, I thought their comic on the subject most closely mirrored my thoughts.
"Minecraft is, like, his baby though!"

"I would sell an actual baby for two billion dollars. I would sell my baby to the Devil."
But maybe I'm just a morally bankrupt slave to capitalism.

I disagree with most of the arguments people have come up with against selling to MS. Assuming he doesn't totally shaft existing Mojang staff, I see this as a great chance to let Microsoft deal with fixing all the niggling glitchy broken bits that linger on in Minecraft, not to mention that unless MS is even dumber than I assume they're going to do their best not to kill the (existing community) goose that lays the golden egg. But even if they do, the older versions of the game are out in the world now, people will be able to keep hacking them forever no matter what IP antics Microsoft tried to pull. Sure it might raise the barrier to entry a bit but I don't see how MS could possibly hope to put that genie back in the bottle at this stage even if they wanted to.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:08 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also if anyone wants a free Minecraft clone try out Minetest.

I've always ignorantly believed the people who claim Minecraft is poorly coded/optimized, that a proper engine coded from scratch would run so much better. But I've yet to try a Minecraft clone that runs as well as the original on my machine.
posted by straight at 8:08 AM on September 15, 2014


So bets on how long before Microsoft gets rid of the independent servers and turns Minecraft into a subscription based MMO?
posted by octothorpe at 8:10 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


...you cannot be on the left and not be bothered by the notion that its's a good idea to have billionaires driving public policy and priorities through their charities, no matter how well intended.

I mean I guess I'm bothered by it in principle sure, but until I see otherwise, I'm going to trust what notch has actually said and, so far, demonstrated:
“I think the right way to use money like this is to set a decent portion aside to make sure my family is comfortable,” said Notch, “spend some on living out your dreams, and then try to put the rest towards making society a better place. For me, this includes charities that help children, and charities that help promote freedoms I think are vital in the coming dozens of years…”
posted by griphus at 8:11 AM on September 15, 2014 [12 favorites]


Minecraft the Movie is coming - Warner Brothers are currently making it.

Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to the popular video game Minecraft, with Roy Lee (The Lego Movie) and Jill Messick (Mean Girls) producing the live-action adaptation. Deadline broke the story, which was confirmed by Minecraft creator Markus Persson on his Twitter page.
posted by DanCall at 8:15 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean, he already made more money than he needed before he sold to MS. As he said, he did this because even being associated with Minecraft was no longer fun. Notch is fundamentally dedicated to doing things which are personally fun for him. It's the Achilles heel of any anarchist-leaning creative person who wants to do good and get rich.
“I think the right way to use money like this is to set a decent portion aside to make sure my family is comfortable,” said Notch, “spend some on living out your dreams, and then try to put the rest towards making society a better place. For me, this includes charities that help children, and charities that help promote freedoms I think are vital in the coming dozens of years…”
His family was already set with the millions he has already made... unless he has an unusually extensive and poverty stricken family i.e. a small country of relatives. I'm not saying Notch is a bad person for taking the money and running, but creating a bunch of hereditary millionaires in Sweden and some charities is actually a pretty bad use of a billion dollars, economically speaking. Good for him, but a net bad for the rest of us. But that's the way the system works, it's not necessarily Notch's job to change the world. But, getting rich has a real cost to the rest of us which you can't make up with good intentions.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:19 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


He doesn't need to work at Minecraft for the rest of his life, but neither does he need to seel it to Microsoft in order to walk away from it.

I think the only way Notch could get the target off his back was to pin it to an enormous internet-hate-lightning-rod like Microsoft. It's telling that notch.net is down and his public statement is just dumped on pastebin.
posted by straight at 8:20 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


creating a bunch of hereditary millionaires in Sweden and some charities is actually a pretty bad use of a billion dollars, economically speaking. Good for him, but a net bad for the rest of us.

Huh? What do you think Microsoft was going to use that $2.5 billion for that would be better?
posted by straight at 8:21 AM on September 15, 2014 [14 favorites]


I posted this in the reddit thread last week when the rumors first hit:
While it would be entirely too easy for me to get angry and/or sad about this, the fact is that there are no facts as yet, just an anonymous source and a metric crapload of speculation.

I will say this: I went through a similar sort of heartbreak when Microsoft bought out Bungie and the expectations of Halo on Mac evaporated. It wouldn't be the end of the world, no. But damn it: I expected better.
But with the news this morning, and after reading Notch's post, I find myself understanding quite well why he would choose money and sanity over the vile blight that is the snot-nosed, over-entitled portion of Minecraft (i.e. gaming) fandom.

On the plus side, I don't need to visit r/Minecraft anymore, and thus lose the last reason to bother with reddit and trolling redditors.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:22 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


"If you don’t hang around with Children Of A Certain Age, you might not know exactly what is being bought here. They’re functionally purchasing a generation. Two billion dollars starts to look like a steal." - Jerry Holkins (Tycho of Penny Arcade)

That's it. Like Disney is doing, buying up all the IP they can that will craft the mythologies of coming generations. And Minecraft was a breathtaking platform for the development of engineering, achievement, social and creative skills, world wide. I think the one real evil that could have befallen it is the one that now has.
posted by emmet at 8:22 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I just have a real philosophical problem with having any individual with that kind of power, you cannot be on the left and not be bothered by the notion that its's a good idea to have billionaires driving public policy and priorities through their charities, no matter how well intended.

I'm really puzzled by your reactions to this. To me, it sounds like you're saying he shouldn't have sold; or, he shouldn't have sold for so much; or, he shouldn't have sold to microsoft; or, he ..... I don't even know. You don't think he should be chained to the game but you don't think he should walk away, or if he does, he shouldn't get (too much) money for it?

I'm on the left and people who have wealth and power in great concentrations is troubling to me. But it's also not at all an argument that this specific guy shouldn't have taken this specific offer to buy a thing he made.
posted by rtha at 8:22 AM on September 15, 2014 [19 favorites]


It's telling that notch.net is down and his public statement is just dumped on pastebin.

I wouldn't read too much into that. The statement on pastebin is just a copy and paste from his website, which appears to have gone down from the server load.
posted by papercrane at 8:23 AM on September 15, 2014


Well that was fun while it lasted.
posted by the painkiller at 8:23 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here's something fun: Microsoft expects to break even on the deal in under a year. Minecraft is incredibly profitable, but not that profitable (yet). What could they be planning?

Notably, Microsoft says that it expects the acquisition "to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis." In other words, Microsoft believes it will make back what it has spent on Mojang and Minecraft by the end of this fiscal year (next June).
posted by skymt at 8:26 AM on September 15, 2014


IncognitoErgoSum: "My 14 year old son - Minecraft player for a few years - on hearing the news commented "They'll probably add Clippy for Minecraft: It looks like you're punching a tree, would you like some help with that?"."

Minecraft Bob.
posted by symbioid at 8:27 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


$2.5 billion values Mojang at 8x sales. Not profit, but revenue from selling Minecraft, merch and so on. That means to break even with the current cash flow would take something longer than 8 years. Very likely more than 12 years (assuming nothing changes). That's a pretty high valuation for a game, most games don't sell reliably for more than a year or two. Hell, most franchises don't sell reliably that long. I know Minecraft is a special case but that's feels high. You have to expect Microsoft either to squeeze more cash out of it, or views it as a small part of some kind of bigger strategy (mobile). Almost certainly the latter in my opinion.

Also, can't discount that because Mojang is Swedish Microsoft can use their overseas cash (instead of having to repatriate it). So it's like buying a company with discounted cash.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:28 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


The statement on pastebin is just a copy and paste from his website, which appears to have gone down from the server load.

Yeah, he tweeted the notch.net statement, everyone crashed it, so he tweeted the pastebin instead.
posted by smackfu at 8:28 AM on September 15, 2014


straight: "an enormous internet-hate-lightning-rod like Microsoft."

Wait, it's 1999?
posted by symbioid at 8:29 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


i wasn't saying he sold at a loss to say he made the wrong choice, but rather that those who are saying microsoft paid too much are wrong about that.

I dunno; I have to wonder if it's riskier than it appears. I could be wrong here but I feel like this is a game with 54 million or more copies sold already, which is in the rear view mirror now, and that's been around for a good number of years. Merchandizing doesn't appear to be a large part of the revenue to begin with. They will probably have to find ways to further monetize the existing product, with maybe in-game purchases or subscriptions which could turn off parents.
posted by Hoopo at 8:29 AM on September 15, 2014


symbioid: Wait, it's 1999?

No, there's still plenty of hate for Microsoft in 2014, but there's just not nearly as much fear to go along with it.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:30 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


He now must construct a pickaxe that is literally made of diamonds. He can afford it.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2014 [16 favorites]


symbioid: Wait, it's 1999?

No, there's still plenty of hate for Microsoft in 2014, but there's just not nearly as much fear to go along with it.


I recently had to buy a retail copy of Windows 8.1 on Amazon, and there is clearly a cadre of people who sit on that product page and relentlessly mark all positive reviews as unhelpful. It's kind of amazing.
posted by selfnoise at 8:32 AM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


Btw, that This is Phil Fish video Notch mentions is a great essay about the way fame turns people into symbols (previously).
posted by straight at 8:34 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Once something gets big enough, it becomes a hate magnet.
posted by Pendragon at 8:34 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Once something gets big enough, it becomes a hate magnet.

Hateful people are as subject to the gravity of popularity as everyone else is.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:37 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Windows 9: I built that. In Minecraft.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:39 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, the good news is that he didn't sell to EA.

I guess I'm mostly puzzled.

I can see him wanting to get out. Totally understand that. What I don't get is why he decided that "get out" meant "sell to some outside party". Couldn't he have just given/sold his shares in minecraft to Jeb or someone? Why invite MS, the creator of a lot of things Notch has personally and vocally opposed, to own Minecraft?

I'd understand if he had a cool plan that needed $2 billion to make reality, but he seems mostly to have just sort of gone alone with our planetary cultural mental disorder that says in any given situation choosing not to hoard money is wrong. Not that this is any special vice on his part, as a planet we've been infected with that stupid idea. But the idea of just going and **NOT** extracting the maximum possible money doesn't seem to have occurred to him.

When a person already has, literally, more money than they can spend in their lifetime I do think the urge to get even more money is literally pathological. It's another form of hoarding.

It was his stuff, he can do whatever he wants with it, I'm not saying he can't. I'm just confused as to the motive for his particular way of getting out and while he is of course under absolutely no obligation to explain, I wish he would.
posted by sotonohito at 8:42 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


What could they be planning?

A hit movie with tie-in happy meals and blue foam picks in Toys-R-us could make a good fraction of that back in a year. Mojang doesn't do a lot of licenced properties.

The MC youtube/twitch communities are ripe for e-sports ala Starcraft. The biggest independent youtubers, of any youtube channels, are MC gamers. The big ones get as many views every single day as a mid-level network show. Imagine having access to 20 or 30 audiences the size of, say, Craig Ferguson through Ellen. They're getting a huge number of fans.

They have the potential to build another PAX. Minecon is, by all accounts, a complete shambles, but still draws tens of thousands.

MC, the game, is huge, but the opportunities around it are possibly bigger. It will be crassly commercial and really cool all the the same time. Think Marvel studios big.
posted by bonehead at 8:42 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've been doing academic work with Minecraft players for the past year or so. The gist of my work was to play with a player who is an incredibly active player in the game, let's call him Chris, and get his perspective on what it means to be heavily involved in a complex gameplay task that spans multiple platforms.

Chris is just leaving middle school, and has been playing the game for about 3 years. At first this meant using a pirated copy of the game to explore the base gameplay with friends from school. However, over time (and quickly), Chris found out about modifications. In the course of setting up modifications for his local client, Chris also found out about running servers. With friends he made on Skype Chris struck out to run a large number of servers as an owner and administrator. This was a complicated task. Not even so much game designing, as designing an online social experience, much like the programmers of Facebook would do. Large ecosystems of ranks, hierarchies, technical systems, interconnected servers, conflicting modifications and the personal politics of any human organization where people are heavily vested in the outcomes.

To a certain extent the gameplay of Minecraft is hitting blocks with tools and then putting those blocks into other locations, but the reality of how Chris plays is that he's much more engaged in what's referred to as the "meta-game". Minecraft is less a game, and more of a creative platform for a ton of content. Chris curates and configures suites of modifications to create unique experiences for his players, he administrates and organizes builders from his Skype network to create the geography of his servers, he screen captures his play to create content for his Youtube brand, and recently he's been exploring the idea of contracting server hosting and technical support.

His experience doing a wide array of technical stuff (coding - but more than just that, also the experience of managing a team of workers to assemble a techno-social system) has made him want to pursue programming as a career.

But it's more than just gaining practical skills, Chris's Skype list is an extended social network of people who live across that country that he's never met. Chris has friends at school, but he also has a nearly equally real and valid network of friends on Skype who partner with him. For example, he has a friend who does his graphic design work for his Youtube presence, and in exchange Chris will often make him into a co-administrator on his servers (meaning that he gets special privileges, and essentially never has to mine for resources or gear).

In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the acquisition wasn't driven by the earlier acquisition of Skype, since Skype is such an essential piece of the gameplay in Minecraft.

It's not all roses and sunshine. The anonymous-culture that pervades all of "gaming culture" still exists here. I've seen Chris (who is African American) deal with some really repugnant racism from people he's friends with. Chris isn't blameless, he's admitted to me hacking and trolling for the sake of Youtube content. To a certain extent Minecraft server ownership is a bit wild west: people coordinating small-scale DDOS attacks against rival servers, holding them for ransom if the owners don't pay up. Using cheats to escalate to admin privileges, and then destroying all of the server architecture for laffs.

When it comes to Microsoft, I don't know exactly what will happen. I've had less contact with Chris since he's gone to high school, but I can't wait to see what he thinks of this. At least partially, they can probably do almost anything and still make money just due to the Minecraft brand. But, on the other hand, they have to realize that Minecraft is more than an iconic brand and built-in market base. It's a social experience that has a great deal of meaning for its players. Less of a game, and more of a social system. The worst thing that they could possibly do would be to take steps to curtail the social involvement which largely drives the Minecraft meta-game.
posted by codacorolla at 8:45 AM on September 15, 2014 [51 favorites]


Think Marvel studios big.

Think Minecraft: Spider-Man edition.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:46 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


A hit movie with tie-in happy meals and blue foam pics in Toys-R-us could make a good fraction of that back in a year. Mojang doesn't do a lot of licenced properties.

Toys R Us - Minecraft Foam Diamond Sword - $19.99
posted by smackfu at 8:47 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


We should stop thinking of Notch/Mojang as this quirky little indy game developer when it makes well over $100 million a year from Minecraft.

I think this is, in fact, exactly why Notch is selling.
posted by bonehead at 8:48 AM on September 15, 2014


I'd understand if he had a cool plan that needed $2 billion to make reality, but he seems mostly to have just sort of gone alone with our planetary cultural mental disorder that says in any given situation choosing not to hoard money is wrong. Not that this is any special vice on his part, as a planet we've been infected with that stupid idea. But the idea of just going and **NOT** extracting the maximum possible money doesn't seem to have occurred to him.

If that money is coming from Microsoft and not, say, the coffers of St. Poorman's Orpanarium, why wouldn't you want to extract the maximum possibly value for your extremely valuable property?

Also I have dozens and dozens of plans that need over $2B to make reality. Maybe even hundreds:
-Private moon base/arcade
-Buying out ever Republican in the U.S. Senate
-A series of habitrail-like tunnels under the city with person-sized pneumatic tubes to my friends' houses
-Personal theme music (some sort of floating bluetooth-compatible sound orb?)
posted by griphus at 8:48 AM on September 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


I'm not saying Notch is a bad person for taking the money and running, but creating a bunch of hereditary millionaires in Sweden and some charities is actually a pretty bad use of a billion dollars, economically speaking. Good for him, but a net bad for the rest of us.

If the money had appeared by magic in the middle of a field, then, yes, it would be a net bad for us to give it to one dude. However, that money is coming from somewhere, and that place is Microsoft, which has more wealth than the richest person on Earth. It's not an ideal wealth transfer, and it's not the way I would divide up assets if I was in charge of that after The Revolution, but money is flowing from relatively wealthier and more powerful places to relatively less wealthy and powerful places here.

It's kind of like athletes, where people do have problems with paying anyone that much to play a sport, but it's also one of the few ways that old billionaires are giving millions of dollars to young men (and a few women). Again, not ideal, but we're not starting from an ideal starting state, or even a neutral one where things are kind of OK. We're starting from a really, really shitty place with injustice and inequality all over the place, and getting money out of the hands of the likes of Microsoft and into the hands of more people with less already-accumulated wealth is incrementally better. Not massively better, but incrementally better, and at the very least not a net bad.
posted by Copronymus at 8:49 AM on September 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


Notch now has enough money to not only do cool things for the rest of his life, but to pay other people to help him do cool things or to continue supporting cool things when he no longer finds them cool. AND he can live in a really nice place and take lovely vacations.

I don't understand why people are so confused.
posted by maryr at 8:50 AM on September 15, 2014 [16 favorites]


...in exchange Chris will often make him into a co-administrator on his servers (meaning that he gets special privileges, and essentially never has to mine for resources or gear).

a lot of minecraft modding is being used to recreate some of the more unhappy experiences of the FPS gaming world. my least favorite ones (my kids went to) were the "prison" servers, which combined click-mining, achievement ladder climbing, and FPS battles to create a simulation of a truly unhappy universe... for children!
posted by ennui.bz at 8:55 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also I have dozens and dozens of plans that need over $2B to make reality. Maybe even hundreds:
-Private moon base/arcade
-Buying out ever Republican in the U.S. Senate
-A series of habitrail-like tunnels under the city with person-sized pneumatic tubes to my friends' houses
-Personal theme music (some sort of floating bluetooth-compatible sound orb?)


Your ideas are intriguing to me and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by Aizkolari at 9:02 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have to wonder how much it's worth to Microsoft to reinforce the idea that the successful endgame for an independent game developer is not to remain successfully independent, but to sell out to an EA, Activision, Sony, or Microsoft?
posted by straight at 9:04 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


... that the successful endgame for an independent game developer is not to remain successfully independent, but to sell out to an EA, Activision, Sony, or Microsoft?

I'm not sure that's what's reinforcing at all. The endgame for Minecraft the game and IP for notch is selling it to Microsoft. The endgame for notch as a developer is complete and utter independence from anyone ever again, as far as games development goes. He will never need investors. He won't even need an audience. He now has the money to program or pay to have programmed games that he wants and maybe even only he will play.
posted by griphus at 9:07 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I strongly suspect that getting Microsoft to be the fall-guy and scapegoat for anything and everything that ever goes wrong with Minecraft from now on, instead of being blamed for it himself, is probably worth several additional billions to Notch. As evidenced by his references to the EULA fiasco, even when he's not there and has nothing to do with it he still gets blamed, so "just walk away" wouldn't really cut it for him. Nope, to really get away from a future where he catches all the flak for Mincraft problems no matter what else he's doing at the time, he needs a big public divorce, and if Minecraft gets handed off to someone the public is accustomed to blaming for shit that goes wrong, all the better (for Notch). Can't blame the guy at all.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:11 AM on September 15, 2014 [11 favorites]


He's walking out of the machinery.
posted by bonehead at 9:13 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I just have a real philosophical problem with having any individual with that kind of power, you cannot be on the left and not be bothered by the notion that its's a good idea to have billionaires driving public policy and priorities through their charities, no matter how well intended.

Also note that this deal will mean at least a billion dollars in taxes going from Microsoft to the Swedish government. Is that progressive enough for you?
posted by straight at 9:13 AM on September 15, 2014 [19 favorites]


I have to wonder how much it's worth to Microsoft to reinforce the idea that the successful endgame for an independent game developer is not to remain successfully independent, but to sell out to an EA, Activision, Sony, or Microsoft?

I don't think they have to worry too much about selling that idea because, as currently structured, our economic system itself is set up to ensure that this particular idea of success is the practical reality. Our system is configured to be a machine for consolidating capital upwards. Selling out is the only successful endgame in our system, by intentional or unintentional design. I abhor it too as a systemic problem, but Notch isn't personally, individually to blame for this, nor is he powerful enough on his own to change it (if he wanted to).
posted by saulgoodman at 9:18 AM on September 15, 2014


He's walking out of the machinery.

His heart going boom boom boom.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:18 AM on September 15, 2014 [11 favorites]




My 10 year old son is sad and fearful that this means MicroSoft will shut down modding and community videos, because of trademark and IP worries. Minecraft has been an important playground for him and his friends, and a largely open and free playground, too.
posted by Malla at 9:21 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Thoughts, in no particular order:

1) This doesn't bode well for the Raspberry Pi version.

2) Not the stupidest thing Microsoft has ever done. Not even in the top ten. Possibly even a smart thing.

3) Yeah, the Clippy thing.

4) So I guess Minecraft 2 will have some small changes like photorealistic graphics and being a cover-based first-person shooter with chest-high walls and regenerating health and teabagging as a core gameplay mechanic and running commentary provided by a cadre of racist 13-year-olds and your mum.

5) "Stopping players making cool stuff is not in anyone’s interests." (from the it is official link above): Absolutely true, and perhaps obvious into the bargain, but big faceless corporations have a long track record of stopping players making cool stuff anyway.

6) Minecraft being a Java applicaion must really rustle the jimmies of the "no C# is the future and not just bad imitation Java no really" guys at MS. They'll probably get it ported right about the time people care as much about .NET as they do about Visual Basic now.

7) Boy, if people are upset about the Mojang EULA changes, they're gonna love their new Microsoft overlords.
posted by sourcequench at 9:22 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I strongly suspect that getting Microsoft to be the fall-guy and scapegoat for anything and everything that ever goes wrong with Minecraft from now on, instead of being blamed for it himself, is probably worth several additional billions to Notch.

Absolutely. The whole EULA blow-up was undoubtedly the final straw.

"Everyone screaming at me about not being allowed to make money off my game? Well, it's Microsoft's game now, so you can take it up with their legal department. Peace out."
posted by rifflesby at 9:25 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


wow, this comes as a surprise. I thought it was just going to be rumors!

With regards to that cool $2.5b, sure it's "fuck you" money but is it really enough money so that "He will never need investors. He won't even need an audience. He now has the money to program or pay to have programmed games that he wants and maybe even only he will play."?
posted by rebent at 9:28 AM on September 15, 2014


Notch seems like a cool guy. On the one hand, good on him - I love to see good people do well. On the other hand, given how hard it was for him to deal with popularity, I hope the addition of billions of dollars doesn't absolutely destroy him.
posted by Mooski at 9:28 AM on September 15, 2014


So, does this mean there will finally be a hi-rez version?
posted by chavenet at 9:34 AM on September 15, 2014


With regards to that cool $2.5b, sure it's "fuck you" money but is it really enough money so that "He will never need investors. He won't even need an audience. He now has the money to program or pay to have programmed games that he wants and maybe even only he will play."?

GTA V cost ~$266M to develop and market. Not counting the millions he already has, he would have to see zero return on ten GTA V-sized efforts to lose $2.5B. From what I've seen, he has no interest in the AAA-style games that would require that kind of effort to create. Dude's set.
posted by griphus at 9:35 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


MS will make the EULA and whatever comes after bite hard. MS is exceedingly unlikely to stand for third-party shysters charging hundreds to mom's VISA card for god-mode on their server.

That and the coming rewrite to C# may be the most immediate effects of the sale.
posted by bonehead at 9:35 AM on September 15, 2014


Here's something fun: Microsoft expects to break even on the deal in under a year. Minecraft is incredibly profitable, but not that profitable (yet). What could they be planning?

Notably, Microsoft says that it expects the acquisition "to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis." In other words, Microsoft believes it will make back what it has spent on Mojang and Minecraft by the end of this fiscal year (next June).


They don't mean they'll make 2.5 billion next year. When you account for big acquisitions like this, you spread out the costs over a period of years. They're saying that after spreading the costs out, the revenue will meet or exceed them yearly.
posted by empath at 9:39 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


With regards to that cool $2.5b, sure it's "fuck you" money but is it really enough money so that "He will never need investors. He won't even need an audience. He now has the money to program or pay to have programmed games that he wants and maybe even only he will play."

That's enough money to buy the white house twice over, so I imagine so.
posted by empath at 9:41 AM on September 15, 2014


Not that it matters, but Notch didn't own 100% of Mojang, nor will he receive 100% of the proceeds tax free. Much more realistic to imagine $1B reaches his bank account, not $2.5B.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:41 AM on September 15, 2014




I wonder if notch is the guy that was randomly donating vast amounts of money to twitch streamers.

Notch regularly donates $10s of thousands of dollars to the *GDQ charity marathons and is known to pop into the chat of various speedrunners and the like. It is not implausible in the slightest.

As for the news in general....

Microsoft rescued Bungie when they were in trouble due to a disastrous bug costing them a lot of money overseas to fix. They paid from what I've heard... in the 10s of millions (I couldn't find a number myself). They left Bungie pretty much alone and got the Halo franchise out of it. Bungie's since spun back off though MS still owns Halo.

Minecraft and associated products, I think it's reasonable to say are already worth more than that. There's literally no reason for Microsoft to do anything but to coast on this game and all the merch and everything exactly as it has been for a while now. It is a money-making machine that probably won't stop anytime soon unless they fuck it up. I'm sure people upset/disappointed by future updates will say this is the moment Minecraft died... But I'm not sure I buy it unless they do something really drastically stupid.

As for notch, I'm glad he'll get to live a quieter life making tiny games while sitting on an enormous pile of cash.
posted by sparkletone at 9:41 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I do wonder how much merchandizing ability there is in the game as it stands today. What kid wants to play with a fake workbench and iron ingot and shovel? None of the kids I know; once Minecraft time is over they're not running around pretending to mine and run from creepers.

I suspect we're going to see the introduction of the minecraft equivalent of Ewoks or Pokemons. Also "Steve" is not really that marketable so I'm guessing we see new marketable avatars, and probably no ability to make your own skin in the future.
posted by Hoopo at 9:42 AM on September 15, 2014


I've seen it referenced a few times here, could someone point me to some (rational) discussion of this EULA debacle? What happened and what were some of the good and bad responses?
posted by ish__ at 9:45 AM on September 15, 2014


None of the kids I know; once Minecraft time is over they're not running around pretending to mine and run from creepers.

I've seen quite a few anecdotes about kids playing Minecraft at recess.
posted by straight at 9:45 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I do wonder how much merchandizing ability there is in the game as it stands today. What kid wants to play with a fake workbench and iron ingot and shovel?

Well, the Minecraft LEGO sets were popular enough that they're doing full-size versions.
posted by rifflesby at 9:48 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]




Too, part of the fun of Minecraft has been that it's a small independent product that's great in many ways and that people love. It's not about corporations and marketing and monetization. At least it used not to be. Now it's transformed into yet another example of our corporate driven and toxic society. Sigh.
posted by emmet at 9:50 AM on September 15, 2014


I do wonder how much merchandizing ability there is in the game as it stands today.

Have you seen how many Minecraft t-shirts you can buy at lower end retailers? The answer is a lot.
posted by maryr at 9:53 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


I do wonder how much merchandizing ability there is in the game as it stands today. What kid wants to play with a fake workbench and iron ingot and shovel? None of the kids I know; once Minecraft time is over they're not running around pretending to mine and run from creepers.

My kid and his friend do this (but for combat more than for building), and then switch to playing Harry Potter, but even though they both have some Minecraft toys (a Steve head, an Enderman head) they don't really use those. They just use sticks. Kid got an Enderman action figure for his birthday, but he never plays with it.

He like the t-shirts though, so I think those will remain big sellers

The thing about physical toys representing, say, a block is that they are not infinite and cannot be built into actual mile-high towers so they end up driving the kids back into the game proper.
posted by emjaybee at 9:54 AM on September 15, 2014


Oooh boy. In a few years we'll have a ton of bored hipsters blabbing on about how they "Played Minecraft before it sold out."
posted by hot_monster at 9:54 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Steve, and now Alex.
posted by bonehead at 9:54 AM on September 15, 2014


every time i go to target i see a nine year old buying (often with their own pocket money) some minecraft branded thing - tshirts, plush toys, swords, books, etc.
posted by nadawi at 9:59 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ha, just wanted to add, that Minecraft is ironically responsible for making my kid impossible to buy for at birthdays and Christmas. He doesn't want more than a few t-shirts, and the game right now can be played without much cash, and his physical toys gather dust. He got the laptop he wanted and he really doesn't want much else.

For fun, he watches Let's Play videos or reviews of new mods. Then goes and builds something based on those.

We drag him outside for swimming and biking to get exercise, but again, toys are superfluous to all that.

I'm sure MS will find a way to make the stuff he does require him to spend more money.
posted by emjaybee at 9:59 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


The LEGO Mincecraft sets are the most perplexing to me though. At first blush they seem like a natural match, but the fact that there are no cube blocks in lego really makes things awkward.
posted by Kabanos at 10:01 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Would you rather he learn about Clippy on the street?

"It looks like you're starving hysterical naked, looking for an angry fix . . . "
posted by The Bellman at 10:01 AM on September 15, 2014 [14 favorites]


Lego should have bought Minecraft, but like 18 months ago.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:01 AM on September 15, 2014 [9 favorites]


I haven't read any analysis about the deal yet, so this might be totally off base or totally obvious, but I think Microsoft looks at Facebook buying the Rift, looks at the huge young generation of players (and future consumers) who have literally grown up existing partially in MC's virtual world, and sees their own prior failure with Games for Windows Live (and, to a certain extent, their current generation console).

Buying Minecraft is a bit like Facebook acquiring Instagram. It's an effort to buy the customers as much as it's an effort to buy the discrete package of software known as Minecraft. Microsoft now has a sort of captive audience (and captive market) to set up presence in spaces where they've had very public failures (social networking and game ecosystems).

As I mentioned above, with what I've seen of interaction in Minecraft spaces, Skype may as well be packaged with the game itself. Microsoft now owns nearly every aspect of the Minecraft experience... I wouldn't be surprised if their next move wasn't setting up pay hosting for servers, cutting out the unreliable and scam-ridden third party market that currently exists. Really, there's a ton of gray market stuff that currently exists to support Minecraft gameplay that players have come to expect, but which was far beyond Mojang's scope. This is stuff that Microsoft has been doing for years with other services and products which is nearly second nature for them and can easily be monetized so that ALL of the money stays within a single ecosystem instead of feeding third party merchants.

I don't even know if you would still call this future market "gaming" per se. A better word for it would be immersive virtual experiences.

A future for this sort of thing wouldn't even be Minecraft any more - it would be a set of building blocks that would allow your customers to do all of the work for you in creating worlds, designing games, and setting up communicative networks while you charge them for the privilege of doing so. Basically this is realizing the promise of Second Life ten years later.
posted by codacorolla at 10:01 AM on September 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've seen quite a few anecdotes about kids playing Minecraft at recess.

My son had a Minecraft birthday party recently and the kids loved playing with the homemade trunk full of (inflateable) iron swords and hiding from the giant cardboard Creeper and Enderman my wife made for the occasion. Getting him to play Minecraft in real life is one of the few temptations powerful enough to make him consider stepping away from the game on his own, really.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:04 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be surprised if their next move wasn't setting up pay hosting for servers, cutting out the unreliable and scam-ridden third party market that currently exists.

This is Minecraft Realms, which went live earlier this year. I expect MS to start pushing it hard, and won't be surprised if they try to kill third-party servers entirely.
posted by rifflesby at 10:13 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


But what emjaybee describes is probably closer to our typical reality.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:14 AM on September 15, 2014


I've never actually played Minecraft, but what gets me is the eyewatering amount of money involved.

Yeah, Notch has been paid a lot in licencing already. But.. what's it like to go to sleep one day, and wake up with fuck-off-and-will-today's-petty-king-please-wipe-my-ass-now money the next?

My head hurts trying to encompass it.

A future for this sort of thing wouldn't even be Minecraft any more - it would be a set of building blocks that would allow your customers to do all of the work for you in creating worlds, designing games, and setting up communicative networks while you charge them for the privilege of doing so. Basically this is realizing the promise of Second Life ten years later.

So, LittleBigPlanet but slightly less cute.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:16 AM on September 15, 2014


This is Minecraft Realms, which went live earlier this year. I expect MS to start pushing it hard, and won't be surprised if they try to kill third-party servers entirely.

Huh, good to know. My primary data collection work with Chris stopped just short of this actually releasing. He was very skeptical of Realms at the time, but then again he was also heavily invested in being a server administrator in (and had his own small business plans set on) the third party hosting market.
posted by codacorolla at 10:18 AM on September 15, 2014


It's funny, because a lot of people still have their heads down on the whole #GamerGate thing, but I think there's a larger issue there and here – and it isn't 'corruption' in 'games journalism' (obviously) or even the hideous sexism in gaming (maybe that one is a little less obvious.) The hideous sexism in gaming is a big problem, yes, but it's a problem with some tangible results that are being seen, tangible results that go beyond a lot of innocent people suffering harassment and terrible threats.

Indie gaming is kind of dying. Or trying to kill itself. Or being killed by the people who pretend to love it but don't know how love is supposed to work. It's really gross and really tragic and really weird, but – for whatever reason – being remotely involved with indie games development is seeming like a worse and worse idea.

Apparently it seemed that way to notch – reading his reasons for leaving Mojang:
I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. 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.
For folks who haven't seen it, it's worth watching the "This Is Phil Fish" video – it's a very informative and useful take on Phil Fish, indie games, and fame on the internet. And it's easy to see why, at that particular moment, notch, who had been asked to stay on at Mojang because he was "important to the culture," was struck by it enough to want to get out, fast.

Also, note that "This Is Phil Fish" was released in mid-June, long before any of this #GamerGate / #Quinnspiracy crap had happened. This is an old problem; we're just seeing new manifestations of it. As the "This Is Phil Fish" video notes, indie devs who get even slightly internet-famous have always gotten a ton of hate, particularly if you're a woman or in a minority, but often even if you just happen to be a slightly acerbic white guy. There's no communal spirit whatsoever in indie games. I could imagine a world where notch felt comfortable selling Minecraft to a coalition of gaming organizations who could agree to share and open-source it; although the price would certainly have been lower, I could see it happening, because I believe him when he says it's not about the money. I could even imagine that world because that's sort of more in keeping with where Minecraft came from, with its origins in community development. But that is absolutely not the world that exists now; the indie gaming world that exists now is a world that is ridiculously harsh on any and every kind of public figure, that attacks the people that help it most, that brooks no quarter for any perceived failure or slight.
posted by koeselitz at 10:20 AM on September 15, 2014 [18 favorites]


But.. what's it like to go to sleep one day, and wake up with fuck-off-and-will-today's-petty-king-please-wipe-my-ass-now money the next?

You remind me of the interview with Jonathan Blow in the Atlantic a few years ago:

LIKE MANY WEALTHY people, Jonathan Blow vividly remembers the moment he became rich. At the time, in late 2008, he was $40,000 in debt and living in a modest San Francisco apartment, having just spent more than three years meticulously refining his video game, Braid—an innovative time-warping platformer (think Super Mario Bros. meets Borges), whose $200,000 development Blow funded himself. Although Braid had been released, to lavish praise from the video-game press, on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade service that August, Blow didn’t see a cent from the game until one autumn day when he sat down at a café in the city’s Mission district. “I opened up my Web browser and Holy fuck, I’m rich now,” he recalled. “There were a lot of zeros in my bank account.”
posted by jbickers at 10:24 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


kill third-party servers entirely

Killing the third-party servers would also kill off a large number of the YouTubers which would, in turn, kill off a lot of the appeal to the little kids (often little little kids) who are playing the game.

re: merch - kids too young to run their own servers or play on line (or in some cases play independently) are also probably subject to screen time limits (mine is). So, he has the lego and the foam iron sword and the action figures, not to mention the lunchbox, t-shirts, pajamas, notebooks, books, random stickers, nightlight, and whatever else ThinkGeek can dream up. And he plays with the toys, and bonds with his friends over the merch. They are printing money.

FWIW, Minecraft is the gateway drug to gaming for most 4 and 5 year olds I know. If you're not on-line it's G rated, it's about building with blocks and dodging monsters (or you turn the monsters off), you can have cute pets. Plus, Stampy.

Now I'm holding my breath to see how they fuck it up.
posted by anastasiav at 10:24 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is why I'm a dwarf fortress man.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 10:25 AM on September 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


If the money had appeared by magic in the middle of a field, then, yes, it would be a net bad for us to give it to one dude. However, that money is coming from somewhere, and that place is Microsoft, which has more wealth than the richest person on Earth. It's not an ideal wealth transfer, and it's not the way I would divide up assets if I was in charge of that after The Revolution, but money is flowing from relatively wealthier and more powerful places to relatively less wealthy and powerful places here.

It's kind of like athletes, where people do have problems with paying anyone that much to play a sport, but it's also one of the few ways that old billionaires are giving millions of dollars to young men (and a few women).


It's funny you should bring up sports players as an example, no one gets to be a billionaire by giving money away, especially owners of sports teams. I would rather the players all get 100 million dollar contracts than the owners make a dime, but either way that money comes from you and me and municipal taxpayers. And, it's money that could be spent on far better things... I mean, essential things in many US cities.

Which leaves the Wozniaks and Notch's of the world. For every Woz there are a million other equally gifted people who spend their lives assembling iPhones, or mining tantalum, and answering phone support calls, or serving hamburgers. All because Woz is worth a half a billion dollars or whatever he's worth, instead of that money being used for useful things. The way Woz or Notch got where they are is, at some point, in order to fund their tech fun, they had to take investor money. That's the stage, way back, when the fate of Minecraft was sealed.

It's kind of pointless to argue about capitalism, but the story of Minecraft (or Apple for that matter) is that you can't just say: i'm going to sit behind my keyboard (or soldering iron) and make insanely great software (hardware) and change the world. The techno-anarchist DIY change the world ethos doesn't work. People talk about companies like Google, Apple, and Microsoft as if they were "tech companies." But what they actually are is financial trusts. They are agglomeration of capital designed to make sure that whatever tech advance comes around is owned by one of these trusts... as the purchase of minecraft shows.

My point is just that if you want to change the world, you can't do it by pursuing your own interests, you have to do it by working for everyone's interests. At no point did Notch *have* to become a millionaire, any more than he now *has* to become a billionaire. He did it by joining up with robbers and thieves, because they would pay him to do what he loved best.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:25 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, I think we're still waiting on a cite for this punchbowl turd from early in this thread:

I've heard that the big pay day is getting laid off and the severance is almost nil. Notch and business partner are taking the money and running, loyal workers be damned is the rumour.
posted by Yowser at 10:18 AM on September 15 [+] [!]

posted by jbickers at 10:26 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


For anyone interested in how the ownership breaks down, this Forbes article says:

Swedish tax documents from April that were obtained by FORBES show that Mojang, which restructured ownership stakes earlier this year, is wholly-owned by a Swedish entity known as Notch Development. Persson controls 71% of Notch Development through Notch Enterprises AB, according to the documents. Porsér owns 21% while CEO Manneh controls 8%.
posted by papercrane at 10:27 AM on September 15, 2014


Good for notch. Not many people get to have "fuck you money", the kind of money where you never have to do what someone else tells you again. I wonder if he could have gotten more or if, due to his attitude, he just took their first offer.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 10:29 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


My point is just that if you want to change the world, you can't do it by pursuing your own interests, you have to do it by working for everyone's interests. At no point did Notch *have* to become a millionaire, any more than he now *has* to become a billionaire. He did it by joining up with robbers and thieves, because they would pay him to do what he loved best.

Well, he's still got time and now a lot of money to work for everyone's interests. It's not like he has to treat his wealth as "fuck you money." He could do that, but he doesn't have to.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:33 AM on September 15, 2014


I guess I'm one of the few people who think Minecraft being bought out by Microsoft is actually going to be great for Minecraft. I think that ever since Notch left as lead developer, the game has really lacked direction. The last major update that greatly changed the core gaming experience was over a year and a half ago. (The redstone update) Everything since then has been basically fan-service and new colored blocks. Which are great, and definitely improve what you can build, but they don't really bring the creative aspect of the game forward in anyway. They've tried some more ambitious projects, (some questionable; like entire code-rewrites on the base game) but the development team just seems like they can't get out of their own way.

You could say that's not really important because of the modding community, but as others have said, Minecraft on Xbox/PS and on mobile platforms has been hugely successful. Those platforms don't have access to mods. The base game needs to keep improving for those platforms to stay appealing.

I think the biggest thing Microsoft will bring to the table is professionalism. They will install a vision and development plan and it will be executed.

That vision could be terrible, certainly, but at least it will be some change.
posted by mayonnaises at 10:37 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


the indie gaming world that exists now is a world that is ridiculously harsh on any and every kind of public figure, that attacks the people that help it most, that brooks no quarter for any perceived failure or slight.

"What you're doing right now is the reason Microsoft owns Minecraft" is going to be my pat response to any future #gamergate type crap.
posted by straight at 10:38 AM on September 15, 2014 [21 favorites]


loyal workers be damned is the rumour.

I doubt anyone but those involved know the whole story, but that would be out of character for Notch. He has shared out multi-million dollar dividends to the Mojang employees in the past.
posted by bonehead at 10:39 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


emjaybee: Ha, just wanted to add, that Minecraft is ironically responsible for making my kid impossible to buy for at birthdays and Christmas.
You know, presents don't have to be stuff.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:44 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


My point is just that if you want to change the world, you can't do it by pursuing your own interests, you have to do it by working for everyone's interests.

People are complex - not binary either/or creatures like this. Nobody on this website, frankly, can live up to that standard - as an example, I work for a non-profit with lofty, change-the-world goals, but I also work for a salary and negotiate for increases in that salary to improve my life.

Notch is 35, presumably never has to take a job or tie a project to investors' needs again. He's in a better position to actually accomplish what you're suggesting than most, in that his own interests are more or less satisfied for life.
posted by buoys in the hood at 10:46 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


The dividend story since it piqued my interested. The short of it is in 2010 he gave his $3 million dividend to the employees of Mojang, at the time less then 20 people.
posted by papercrane at 10:47 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


On the Minecraft side, and speaking as a Minecraft player since alpha, I guess my main worry is when MS will discontinue Minecraft, shut down authentication so you can't play it legally anymore, and launch Minecraft 2 for a $5/month subscription plus paid DLC plus paid items.

I just really don't see MS letting Minecraft continue to exist when they can shut it down, release a sequel and try to make everyone pay for that.
posted by sotonohito at 10:53 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Do you know which mobile platform doesn't have minecraft?

Sega Game Gear. What do I win?
posted by dances with hamsters at 10:55 AM on September 15, 2014


It isn't on the Sega Saturn either.

Is there some sort of sinister pattern here?
posted by bonehead at 10:58 AM on September 15, 2014


Is there some sort of sinister pattern here?

Things were never the same after the Sega tribute.
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:04 AM on September 15, 2014


"I just really don't see MS letting Minecraft continue to exist when they can shut it down, release a sequel and try to make everyone pay for that."

Well they could work with the currently installed 16 million user base, charge $13 a month for multiplayer on stable, fun, non-horrible servers via Realms and make back $2.5 billion in two years if only half of the current users sign up and nobody new buys the game.

And that's assuming nobody else buys the game. There's an incredible opportunity to make a lot from this current generation of MC and pave the way for the next generation (I'm talking 10 years from now).
posted by Tevin at 11:05 AM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


My 10 year old son is sad and fearful that this means MicroSoft will shut down modding and community videos, because of trademark and IP worries. Minecraft has been an important playground for him and his friends, and a largely open and free playground, too.

How incredibly pathetic is it that we've built a society where 10 year olds are sad and fearful about trademark and IP worries? This is what you've done: YouTube, Content ID, and the studios. Kids now live in legitimate fear that a large content company will swoop in and destroy their creations.
posted by zachlipton at 11:06 AM on September 15, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm not a graphics snob by any means. But every image of MC I've seen is just plain UGLY to look at. Harsh green, brown, acid blue. Yuck.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:06 AM on September 15, 2014


> I've seen quite a few anecdotes about kids playing Minecraft at recess

I spend a lot of time at a place where kids come for physical and occupational therapy. The kids go nuts playing Minecraft in the real world. There are Minecraft paintings and Minecraft drawings and Minecraft worlds set up using the big foam blocks and it's all great.

Minecraft is very important to an enormous population: children with autism. I hope Microsoft doesn't do anything to screw that up.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:10 AM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


> every image of MC I've seen is just plain UGLY to look at. Harsh green, brown, acid blue. Yuck

Ah, you're looking for the Girlcraft texture pack.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Heh. More eye-bleed. Thanks.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:12 AM on September 15, 2014


How incredibly pathetic is it that we've built a society where 10 year olds are sad and fearful about trademark and IP worries?

I was on the street the other day where a little boy, maybe eight or nine, was explaining to his sister of roughly the same age about the connectivity problems he was having with a Minecraft server.

If ten-year-olds today grasp the basics of modding, video creation and editing, community, rights ownership, etc., and how they can be impeded upon, imagine what they'll have the capability to accomplish once they get old enough to do something about the things that have been pissing them off since they were in short pants?
posted by griphus at 11:12 AM on September 15, 2014 [17 favorites]


My point is just that if you want to change the world, you can't do it by pursuing your own interests, you have to do it by working for everyone's interests.

People are complex - not binary either/or creatures like this. Nobody on this website, frankly, can live up to that standard - as an example, I work for a non-profit with lofty, change-the-world goals, but I also work for a salary and negotiate for increases in that salary to improve my life.


I'm old enough to remember when techno-hippies (Yo! Whole Earth Catalog) actually thought the internet was going to change everything... and make everyone rich.

Everyone is old enough to remember when people thought that "don't be evil" actually meant something.

"Change the world" is now deep in the marketing speak of any software related venture, it's not my rhetoric.

For me, I got lucky. The economic collapse has meant that I will never get paid to do the thing I love best... science, and I would have made (and did make) the compromises everyone does to get that paycheck. But in thinking back on the years I devoted to my scientific discipline, it was basically built on selfishness. I wanted to do it because it gave me the most pleasure of anything. Everyone is selfish sometimes... but if I ever thought that pursuing science was, of itself, making the world a better place, I was wrong. I can't speak for what you're doing, but if you aren't actively engaged with politics, taking sides and taking punishment for it, your lofty change the world rhetoric is just that.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:14 AM on September 15, 2014


I just really don't see MS letting Minecraft continue to exist when they can shut it down, release a sequel and try to make everyone pay for that.

yeah this sort of feels like the beginning of the end to me, but then I definitely got my $20 worth by now (or whatever that was that I paid way back when).

Well they could work with the currently installed 16 million user base, charge $13 a month for multiplayer on stable, fun, non-horrible servers via Realms

There's plenty of "non-horrible" free servers currently if you look for them...$150/year for something that used to be free or donation-based could turn some people off, particularly the early adopters. I have no idea how many, but Microsoft obviously thought about this before dropping $2.5 billion.
posted by Hoopo at 11:19 AM on September 15, 2014


Watching Microsoft destroy something you love is an important part of growing up, think of this as a rite of passage.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:19 AM on September 15, 2014 [23 favorites]


I'm just going to avoid the doomsaying and see what the future holds. I don't care for the Halo series, but what Microsoft did with Bungie leads me to believe they know the value of not messing with what works.

Additionally, lets say MS pulls the plug on the current Minecraft launcher. There is the version prior to the launcher which didnt require authentication, and it would only be a matter of time before the code for 1.8 (the current version) is recreated outside of the need for authentication.

(Not that I WANT that to happen, in an ideal world MS doesn't kill the pay structer for Minecraft, but there will be options made available by the hordes of Minecraft fans)
posted by Twain Device at 11:27 AM on September 15, 2014


I can't speak for what you're doing, but if you aren't actively engaged with politics, taking sides and taking punishment for it, your lofty change the world rhetoric is just that.

I don't know ennui.bz--it's not really possible not to be actively engaged with politics as political events effect us personally. Everyone already is taking sides and taking punishment for it in millions of little ways, socially and economically. That's unavoidable. I've never seen politics as some kind of mission you choose to take on: the process of life requires us to deal with the political and to make political choices every day of our lives. We have no choice but to be engaged with politics, as so many of our choices have direct or indirect consequences for others, making them political. The only choice we have is whether we choose to be conscious and deliberate about the political dimensions inherent in our actions or whether we prefer to remain willfully oblivious/blind to them.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:31 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


The universe just will not stop giving Markus Persson money.
posted by lekvar at 11:31 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


How incredibly pathetic is it that we've built a society where 10 year olds are sad and fearful about trademark and IP worries?

OTOH, those kids are the ones who spend all their time watching YouTube channels and Twitch.tv, where these are major issues and are talked about by the people running the channels. Adults who watch broadcast or cable TV certainly aren't very affected by trademark and IP worries.
posted by smackfu at 11:39 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've always ignorantly believed the people who claim Minecraft is poorly coded/optimized, that a proper engine coded from scratch would run so much better. But I've yet to try a Minecraft clone that runs as well as the original on my machine.

Minetest is made with performance in mind. It also has a somewhat sane modding interface.
posted by PenDevil at 11:41 AM on September 15, 2014


Fuck everybody! No pants. Start over with making pants. They're all gone.
posted by flabdablet at 11:51 AM on September 15, 2014


Really? That doesn't sound particularly like Notch given what I've read from him.

It's 2.5 billion dollars. It sounds like everyone. I would sell the last living tiger to a deranged chef who wanted to make hot dogs out of it for considerably less.
posted by Justinian at 11:53 AM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


What I find frustrating about this whole development is that this seems to be the best Notch can think off doing, getting a shitload of money he doesn't need, rather than say recreating Mojang/Minecraft into e.g. some sort of non-profit foundation that could keep a proper community going indefinately.

With respect, I submit that you may not know how much effort setting up a non-profit involves. It is not his problem anymore, which is the point. And he is getting paid 2.5 billion to get his life back. Mazel Tov to Notch, thanks for the great Minecraft play, and enjoy.

Also per taxes, he's probably only getting 1 billion himself.
posted by corb at 12:00 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Only 1 remaining tiger doesn't really do anyone any good, really.
posted by maryr at 12:01 PM on September 15, 2014 [16 favorites]


I never really got into Minecraft, so I have no opinion about what's bothering most people. That kind of money makes what it would take to buy me out of the software I've written look like peanuts. Good for him.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:01 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is more about gaining a killer app for Windows Phone/Xbox One/Windows 9 than anything else, so I expect the following to happen more less right away:


1) All active development of new features that isn't already in beta is moved to "Minecraft 2"

2) "Minecraft 2" is written from the ground up to take advantage of MS technologies, namely, C# and Microsoft Azure

3) "Minecraft 2" is then released exclusively for windows phone/xbox/windows 9 in the same sort of open beta style as the original at some point in (probably) late 2015 or early 2016 with a big feature (maybe free azure servers?) to draw away the existing player base
posted by Oktober at 12:05 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Here's another way to make a hojillion dollars if you're MS: crack that MOD API and open up a mod marketplace. Heck, do the same thing for texture packs. Let the creators sell their work (or release it for free) and MS takes 15% of the cut. Yeah, I know those things are free right now, but it's a way to make money off the current property without changing the vanilla experience.

There's so many ways to keep the vanilla experience the same (free, feature-rich updates) that MS would be incredibly stupid and short-sighted to not take advantage of the current (and growing!) base before alienating a huge swath of its gaming population by limiting the next iteration to MS-approved platforms.

I know MS hate runs deep but jeez, if they can make money and be relatively lazy at the same time ...
posted by Tevin at 12:18 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


zachlipton: "How incredibly pathetic is it that we've built a society where 10 year olds are sad and fearful about trademark and IP worries? This is what you've done: YouTube, Content ID, and the studios. Kids now live in legitimate fear that a large content company will swoop in and destroy their creations."


That was my thought too when I read that. When I was 10 I had no clue what the very idea of "intellectual property" was.

---------------------------

I now picture the final episode of Voltron, vanquishing all the Ro-Beasts, Zarkon, Lotor, Hagar, Yurak, the whole lot, liberate Planet Doom. Then at the very end, the REAL enemies appear.

Hollywood IP Lawyers.
posted by symbioid at 12:45 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


2bucksplus: "Watching Microsoft destroy something you love is an important part of growing up, think of this as a rite of passage."

KEEP MICHAEL BAY AWAY FROM THE MINECRAFT MOVIE!

Though, perhaps he might do an amazing job w/Creeper explosions.
posted by symbioid at 12:46 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


If he had sold it for say $50m or something then I would have been upset with him. But that price really makes you think twice. For Minecraft to sell for $2,500,000,000 really underlines how massively mind bogglingly huge the whole thing has become. I see a lot of sense in notch's argument that he couldn't cope with being the God of Minecraft anymore, and that there were very few companies big enough to take it on. Microsoft is as good a fit as any, really.

I think minecraft as a concept and a platform is going to be around for a very long time, and Steve and the Pig and the Creeper are going to be cultural icons as pervasive in 40 years time as Darth Vader and Lightsabers are today.
posted by memebake at 12:59 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Seems like you could make a pretty good horror movie from the premise of a place where horrible creatures can appear out of thin air in any place that is dark, some of which are only dangerous if you look at them, others that silently prowl around and explode if you (or they) get too close.

Make it a sci-fi movie where the protagonists have some sort of matter-manipulator that can cut meter-square chunks out of the landscape and deposit them elsewhere and you've got a pretty good setup for adventures and fortress-building montages by day and zombie-sieges by night. "What's that noise in the closet? DIDN'T YOU PUT A LIGHT IN THE CLOSET?"
posted by straight at 1:00 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the original responses to his December 2013 tweet was someone saying: what, 1 billion isn't enough?

Notch replied: "Well the you could give a billion dollars to something awesome like cancer surgery, and still have a billion dollars left for beer."

I'm looking forward to seeing what the something awesome is. Science funding - like he sort of suggests - would be incredible.
posted by sockermom at 1:30 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's a weird thing for you: Minecraft is a Java program. It's the only reason Java is on my laptop, and I expect I'm far from the only person like that. Microsoft now owns and must support the most popular Java software there's probably ever been, the reason many ordinary folk still put up with Java. I wonder if that will change....

And I don't particularly blame Notch. He gets a lot of crap, a lot of undeserved crap. Minecraft brings a lot of people joy and fun, but entitled assholes seem to think that they are owed more.

The thing is, there are a whole lot more of the non-assholes out there. Assholes can cause a lot of problems, but does it make sense to punish the people who just want to play and have fun because a few people are entitled pricks? You could say their lack of condemnation is passive encouragement, but really, most people just want to play their gaemz, and would rather not bother with all the dickwolves out there.

Of course the existing Minecraft communities will be shafted by Microsoft because the sort of community and businesses that could spring up under Notch's benign neglegence is fundamentally impossible within a commercial organisation the size of Microsoft.

I look forward to Microsoft's trying to escape this, but yeah. There's never been anything like Minecraft before, not at that scale. Minecraft's uniqueness is something of a shield here: it's been doing so well in such an unprecedented way that, whatever way it falters in the future, it'll be pretty certain Microsoft is the cause, so I would expect Microsoft would walk carefully.

Someone chimed in with the experience of someone working for a company that Microsoft bought, saying they basically left them alone. And let's not forget Bungie, which was owned by them for awhile but then parted on (somewhat) amicable terms. But also let's not forget Rare, which is now a thin shell of its former glory, pretty much entirely due to Microsoft's decisions.

It shouldn't forgotten that when a company buys another company, it's for a reason, and it's very rare that reason is only direct profit. Companies want control, and even if you never see a single particle of Microsoft influence over Mojang in public, there's still some control over it somewhere, that they expected was worth $2.5B.
posted by JHarris at 1:32 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


How incredibly pathetic is it that we've built a society where 10 year olds are sad and fearful about trademark and IP worries? This is what you've done: YouTube, Content ID, and the studios. Kids now live in legitimate fear that a large content company will swoop in and destroy their creations.

It's sad, but it's also encouraging. Because disappointed kids grow up to become angry voters....
posted by JHarris at 1:37 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's never been anything like Minecraft before, not at that scale.

Yeah, I'm trying to think of something that has influenced a ton of people and then it's future is questionable when some other entity comes along and could possibly ruin it.

All the things I and my peers liked as a kid were already owned by a mega-corp.
Lego.
Star Wars.
Nintendo.

It's a weird world we live in.
posted by hot_monster at 1:42 PM on September 15, 2014


The thing is, there are a whole lot more of the non-assholes out there. Assholes can cause a lot of problems, but does it make sense to punish the people who just want to play and have fun because a few people are entitled pricks?

Being subjected for years and on a daily basis to loud, angry, entitled gamer bullshit is the punishment, here. Even with all the good people out there, the assholes still won as evidenced by notch completely handing it over. From his perspective, it was either continue putting up with them or take an enormous payout and make them someone else's problem completely. There may be more good people, but if they feel "punished" by his actions, they have only their fellow community members to blame. It's not like the offer (or one very similar, if not greater) would have gone off the table.
posted by griphus at 1:43 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


All the things I and my peer liked as a kid were already owned by a mega-corp.

Yeah but regulations generally kept the mega-corps of yesterday a lot smaller (with maybe the exception of the old utility monopolies like Bell).
posted by saulgoodman at 1:45 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


That was my thought too when I read that. When I was 10 I had no clue what the very idea of "intellectual property" was.

I'm almost 30 and I knew what intellectual property was when I was 14 because other people my age were going to jail for using Napster, and Limewire. That's not a fast change and it's not particularly new.
posted by edbles at 1:45 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I would say that Second Life prefigured what Minecraft has become, which is a platform for a ton of different interactions fueled by player creation at all levels.

I think that Minecraft succeeded by having its entry-level game being very, very simple and compelling, whereas Second Life was always a virtual world at its core, with a bunch of oblique games being grafted on top of it.

Second Life is a sort of shambling corpse at this point, but if you think back to 2009 there was the brief hype for Second Life as finally being VR come to life, and all of the embarrassing attempts of corporations to capitalize on that.

Even before Second Life there's a mass graveyard of technologies and platforms (Active Worlds, VRML, The Palace) that at some level tried to do the same thing. An immersive Gibsonian cyberspace has been a dream for a while, but it hasn't had any sort of traction until Minecraft, which is only sort of the same idea, and has had that aspect of it jerry-rigged on top by ambitious modders and hackers.
posted by codacorolla at 1:49 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Over on Full Glass, Empty Clip there's a post detailing why this is anything but a bad thing (as written by someone who's run the best Minecraft server on which I've ever played): "Minecraft and Microsoft: A Story of Hope"
posted by komara at 1:58 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Assholes can cause a lot of problems, but does it make sense to punish the people who just want to play and have fun because a few people are entitled pricks?

The actual question is, How much abuse is Notch obliged to take from the assholes for the benefit of the players in the civilized majority?
posted by straight at 2:04 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


None. He is obliged to endure exactly zero abuse on anyone's behalf.
posted by Tevin at 2:07 PM on September 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


It's sad, but it's also encouraging. Because disappointed kids grow up to become angry voters....

/imagines how #GamerGate assholes would vote.
posted by Artw at 2:09 PM on September 15, 2014


Microsoft now owns and must support the most popular Java software there's probably ever been, the reason many ordinary folk still put up with Java. I wonder if that will change...

If MS meant that I could delete java off my laptop, I would totally kiss Steve Ballmer with lots of tongue while shoving money into his pockets. Right in front of Larry Ellison, at whom I'd be glaring hatefully and extending my most favorite digit.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:10 PM on September 15, 2014 [9 favorites]


Ah, you're looking for the Girlcraft texture pack.

Reminds me of my old CGA monitor.
posted by Kabanos at 2:11 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've had a lot of fun with Minecraft but without more open modding (primarily because there are a lot of things about basic MC design that bug me), I've been looking forward to a replacement of some kind. I'm cautiously looking forward to Oort Online.
posted by curious nu at 2:24 PM on September 15, 2014


Artw: It's sad, but it's also encouraging. Because disappointed kids grow up to become angry voters....

/imagines how #GamerGate assholes would vote.
They won't.

But you can be DAMN SURE they'll complain on the blogs about the results.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:27 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


They can't really move off Java until they move all the mod makers onto some officially supported alternative.
posted by smackfu at 2:32 PM on September 15, 2014


Minecraft 1.8 and Windows 8.1. Hmmmm.

Maybe Windows 9 will get a makeover with a Minecraft style interface. Hmmmm.

Having billions of fucking dollars. I can't even imagine it.

What will save my sanity?
posted by DarkForest at 2:38 PM on September 15, 2014


Locking the Minecraft client into a particular doesn't make much sense, I think. However, making it so that Azure is the best (or only) place to host servers or that Visual Studio is the best (or only) way to create mods would be huge for them. They could lock an entire generation into the Microsoft development environment before high school.
posted by heathkit at 2:41 PM on September 15, 2014


Good for Notch. I cautiously think it will (on average) be for the better for the rest of us too. Minecraft was bigger than Mojang, MS is big enough to take it further.
But it will take the form of some things which prompt wailing and gnashing of teeth (tighter control) and some things that are improvements and which go unnoticed and taken for granted (more and more polish in every aspect of the experience, greater ease of eg, running a server, better marketing and tie-ins, etc)

The usual story in games: things will get better thanklessly and the dominant narrative will be that they're getting worse.
posted by anonymisc at 2:42 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


On the development side at least post-Balmer Microsoft seems to be going all out to embrace multiple platforms, OSS and all kinds of intermingling of C# with other peoples Enviroments - not sure of that really extends to a game they bought though.
posted by Artw at 2:44 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


None of the kids I know; once Minecraft time is over they're not running around pretending to mine and run from creepers.

The kids in the next yard "play Minecraft" by pretending to be skellies and creepers and chasing each other around. My son and his friends do the same in the playground after school. There were local kids on a beach in Malaysia I visited doing the same. Minecraft is a complete cultural phenomenon.
posted by Jimbob at 2:54 PM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


This makes me hopeful that someday soon my chickens will stop wandering into blocks and dying.
posted by Ambient Echo at 2:55 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


"If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately."

For now...
My expectation is that in 10-20 years, Notch will have become ready to pick up the mantle of greatness (again), so to speak. When fame and fortune and public opinion hits a quiet unexpecting introvert like a semi truck out of left field, it is traumatic and overwhelming and scarring and you have no tools for dealing with any of it.
But those who instead got the chance to grow into those positions, get used to living it, or groomed for them over decades, it's a different story.

A billion dollars and being Notch (and not being Minecraft any more) means fame and fortune will remain in the background, but more manageable, until he learns to swim, and then to dive and somersault...
He'll never make a breakout hit like minecraft again (that usually doesn't even happen once, let alone twice), but give him a decade or two and he'll be willing to do something with traction again :)
posted by anonymisc at 2:55 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm trying to think of something that has influenced a ton of people and then it's future is questionable when some other entity comes along and could possibly ruin it.

That's a misunderstanding of Minecraft's uniqueness.

The actual question is, How much abuse is Notch obliged to take from the assholes for the benefit of the players in the civilized majority?

None, correct. But there's a universe of other possibilities. Like the non-profit option given above, or maybe selling to a company that's not been legendary in its cluelessness? For starters, how about Valve?

Locking the Minecraft client into a particular doesn't make much sense, I think.

To Microsoft, who the heck knows what makes sense.

The usual story in games: things will get better thanklessly and the dominant narrative will be that they're getting worse.

The reverse is frequently true: things in gaming get worse while people say they're getting better. Most of my gaming these days is emulations of old NES games, which provides gaming vitamins I just don't see in most "modern" game software.

My expectation is also that in 10-20 years, Notch will have become ready to pick up the mantle of greatness (again), so to speak.

Minecraft probably won't happen again, even if Notch willed it. The chances of lightning like that striking again are incredibly slim.
posted by JHarris at 3:07 PM on September 15, 2014


Minecraft probably won't happen again, even if Notch willed it. The chances of lightning like that striking again are incredibly slim.

That's actually what I said if you'd read it ;)

maybe selling to a company that's not been legendary in its cluelessness? For starters, how about Valve?

MS is a much better fit than Valve. Valve has little to gain and little to offer. Valve is a small company of people that are primarily in a groove of developing original/Valve IP. Minecraft needs not only a bunch of devs, but hordes of people in marketing, licensing, PR, helpdesk, legal, media, etc. Minecraft will benefit more from a big administrative wing than from devs who are used to doing their own thing, with only minor tie-ins.
posted by anonymisc at 3:19 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well I've learned today my nieces and nephews are apparently weirdos
posted by Hoopo at 3:23 PM on September 15, 2014


"None, correct. But there's a universe of other possibilities. Like the non-profit option given above, or maybe selling to a company that's not been legendary in its cluelessness? For starters, how about Valve?"

Man, I cannot imagine Valve coming anywhere near Minecraft. They're perfectionists (relatively speaking) and Minecraft is a glorious mess. No doubt they could do some neat things with it but aside from getting into Steam (which again, what a mess [so far as my limited understanding reaches, it would be a nightmare]) I don't understand why they'd bother.

The non-profit angle is interesting but jeez, how do you even vet an org that would properly handle the scope of the project long-term? And what about current staff? And stakeholders? I have no idea, but I think it's a little facile to make it sounds like the reins could be handed over so simply because whatever humble origins MC came from it is now a megalith and will require serious managing.

I'm not saying MS is necessarily that company, but they are at least equipped to do it.
posted by Tevin at 3:23 PM on September 15, 2014


I don't know, I think Valve would have been a good choice. Valve has all of the support and marking related things mentioned above in great measure; not as the part of Valve that makes games, but as the part of Valve that runs Steam. They could have handled it just fine.

They probably just didn't have $2 billion lying around to buy it. Also, Notch chose MS out of previous positive experiences working with them, whereas apparently he looked into Steam at one point but it didn't work out.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:26 PM on September 15, 2014


All the things I and my peers liked as a kid were already owned by a mega-corp.
Lego.
Star Wars.


Holy crap. Star Wars sold for $4billion. Minecraft is worth 62.5% as much as Star Wars. That's indeed a big thing.
posted by Hoopo at 3:27 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've said it before: content is undervalued, technology, especially technology companies, overvalued. Microsoft approached this transaction as a technology deal and thus paid a lot more for Minecraft (which is what they actually wanted, but had to buy all of Mojang) than they would have if they had valued it as a content deal (buying one game and the right to make future games).
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:10 PM on September 15, 2014


>Yeah, I'm trying to think of something that has influenced a ton of people and then it's future is questionable when some other entity comes along and could possibly ruin it.

That's a misunderstanding of Minecraft's uniqueness.

Really? How so?
posted by hot_monster at 4:14 PM on September 15, 2014


Over on Full Glass, Empty Clip there's a post detailing why this is anything but a bad thing (as written by someone who's run the best Minecraft server on which I've ever played)

I think Pete's being a bit too hard on notch there, although given the struggles keeping Aporkalypse online and stable through the Minecraft saga, that's probably understandable. From my point of view, I payed $13 for Minecraft, and therefore notch owed me precisely $13 worth of value. I've got that value, many times over, as I doubt there's been a single day since August 2010 that I haven't played the game in some form or other. I don't give a fuck if notch hired some modder and got them to create rabbits. That's his decision, he doesn't owe me squat, and the attitude in the indie gaming community that game creators owe you something, that they all have to be glorious uber-programmers and project managers and business managers and legal experts and respond to your every rude request on Twitter is utter garbage. I paid less for Minecraft than I do for a pizza, and I've lived with whatever Mojang has handed me since then. If I was paying $13 a month for it, I'd be singing a different tune. But if notch had made that their business model, Minecraft wouldn't exist.
posted by Jimbob at 4:37 PM on September 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


Honestly, right the fuck on. I think this is a realistic move, and that it is not going to be worth 2.5 billion in ten years.

At least he doesn't have the hubris of the angry birds/rovio moron to think it's some 100 year(or even 20-30 year) brand like mickey mouse or something.

I think a lot of people are mixing up their personal feelings about the game and how meaningful/interesting it was to them with it's staying power. Do i think it'll still be a thing in a few years? yea. Do i think it's some kind of "infinite growth" thing and this is a terrible call.

2.5 billion is an ass ton of money. It's go off and do any project you want while also having fuck off money for the rest of you, and your kids, and their kids off onto the horizon money. I mean the general consensus is that 10 million or so is fuck off money, even in the valley.

And honestly, who really thinks this is going to be worth 10 billion in 5 years or something?

I'm guessing that notch needs to not have millions of people feeling like they have a say in the way he runs his life.

This is also a big part of the reason. I would cash out just to stop getting fucking harassed if i knew i'd get fuck off money, even if i knew i could get twice as much money for enduring say, five more years of it. Seriously?

I don't understand why so many people harassed this dude so thoroughly about every choice he made. It almost reminds me of that "men are afraid gay men will treat them the way they treat women" thing or something, because they almost harassed him like he was a woman. I've been watching it since the beginning with a sort of anti, bad version of bemusement at the entitlement people had on how he lived his fucking life.

This is like a golden fucking ticket to do whatever he wants for the rest of his life free of those stupid people, and maybe speak at any game/dev convention he ever wants to again for pretty much ever. Or do awesome things at them. Or you know, anything he wants.
posted by emptythought at 4:44 PM on September 15, 2014


In addition to the obvious revenue opportunity this is also a nice way for Microsoft to burn down their gigantic offshore cash pile. This is I think the 2nd or maybe even 3rd large acquisition of a foreign company this year. From a certain perspective, it's fake money and having too much of it on hand looks really bad politically which means eventually it'll attract enough attention that someone might try and close that particular loophole. If you can spend this money you couldn't really do much with in the first place on an acquisition that will drive up prices for your competitor's future acquisitions while getting something valuable out of it in the process, that's a pretty big win.

With that in mind, with a typical business, a you might sell at 2x or 3x revenue, and it's not impossible to imagine that the $2.5 billion figure is in line with their projections over the next few years as they expand into movies and cartoons and toys.

As far as their stewardship of the community goes, Microsoft is a company in genuine need of golden geese right now, so I think they're likely to tread lightly. There has been substantial and real change over the past few years in how they interact with various public communities which I think bodes well when you get to things like APIs and modding. Of course, you never know, but better them than Apple or Sony when it comes to things like that.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:54 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


and maybe speak at any game/dev convention he ever wants to again for pretty much ever.

Funny, I kinda assumed his dream would be to not have to speak at any convention ever again ever.
posted by Jimbob at 4:54 PM on September 15, 2014


True, but I think his dream is fundamentally to be able to speak at a convention if he feels like it, and not have to speak at a convention if he doesn't feel like it. His dream is freedom. :)
posted by anonymisc at 5:15 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


The non-profit angle is interesting but jeez, how do you even vet an org that would properly handle the scope of the project long-term? And what about current staff? And stakeholders? I have no idea, but I think it's a little facile to make it sounds like the reins could be handed over so simply because whatever humble origins MC came from it is now a megalith and will require serious managing.

Well my point wasn't that they should do this, just that the choice isn't strictly between keeping Minecraft and the headaches that involves, and selling to Microsoft. It's a wide world, there are options. Why not just sell his stake to the other Minecraft shareholders and get out?

That's a misunderstanding of Minecraft's uniqueness.
Really? How so?


I was quoting the line to refer to a previous comment, not, in this case, to quote everything about that previous comment. To call back to it, because goddammit I'm already hella self conscious about posting big logjam comments.

Well if I'm doomed to do it anyway... to elaborate, the previous comment compared Minecraft to Lego, Star Wars and Nintendo. None of those things really captures whatever the hell Minecraft is. I think it's something utterly unique.

I was shocked when my local bookstore started showing Minecraft stuff -- to me, before then it was something cool and geeky and awesome, but no way could it ever be mass market. Well, I was entirely, incredibly wrong, and I couldn't be happier about it.

They're now selling masks in the visage of "Steve?" which I remind you isn't so much an official name as a kind of placeholder, in Target. Minecraft is a mess, as mentioned above, seemingly made with no concession to useability. It's a Java app that's started from a clunky launcher. Modding, one of the biggest things you can do with it, requires copying files, eww! And yet it's gigantic anyway.

Nintendo desperately tries to hide any indication that you could do anything with their consoles that they didn't explicitly approve of, test out, and work into their business plan for a decade in advance. Star Wars -- how would it have gone if you effectively had to buy a plastic kit and injection-mold your action figures? Lego, there's some of it there, but that company's been making those bricks for decades and has spent two generations building up their brand to the point where they're synonymous with building sets -- Minecraft is five years old, and feels even younger than that.

It's possible that what Minecraft has really done isn't be big, itself, but let the genie out of the bottle. Showing a legion of kids that messing around with files and launchers and making cool stuff and posting YouTube videos of it isn't some black art only supergeeks can do. It's understandable! And it's not hard! Whatever software game or toy comes after Minecraft will be able to make use of that revelation. I have no doubt that the next generation's game design geniuses are playing Minecraft now.
posted by JHarris at 5:22 PM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


$2.5 billion in Minecraft.
posted by Jimbob at 5:45 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Derail, but: Is there still a TooMuchPete server?
posted by rollbiz at 5:46 PM on September 15, 2014


I think a lot of people are mixing up their personal feelings about the game and how meaningful/interesting it was to them with it's staying power.

I think most of us early adopters who loved Minecraft from the start are astonished at how much and how widespread its staying power has turned out to be. This isn't some pet rock that every kid in America buys and then leaves untouched on the shelf three months later. This is a place kids are investing time, energy, and creativity. They're developing skills.

The closest thing I can compare it to from my childhood would be something like Dungeons & Dragons, except it's like every kid in class -- boys and girls -- had gotten into D&D and stuck with it for a few years (so far).
posted by straight at 6:20 PM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Douglas Coupland's novel Microserfs predicted Minecraft but in the book the developers had quit their jobs at Microsoft to make the game. Ha.
posted by yoHighness at 6:45 PM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


And now he'll apply a AAA game budget to Cliffhorse.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:15 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Good grief. It's amazing how the people who want to tell us all how empathetic they are, feel so entitled to tell someone else what to do with their money and who to associate with.

if you aren't actively engaged with politics, taking sides and taking punishment for it, your lofty change the world rhetoric is just that.

There is no one I trust less than a true believer, of whatever stripe. They do not value people, they value concepts and ideals -- and that is a very dangerous thing. The people who "take sides" have no compunction about throwing you under the bus if you don't completely fall in line with their ideals, and I think *that* is the greatest evil -- not that someone can make more money than someone else that some random "activist" feels is "equally deserving".

I guess *I'm* taking sides here, but the level of entitlement on display makes me want to fucking puke...
posted by smidgen at 7:36 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Geezus there is still nothing that saps my enthusiasm to play as much as falling into random lava. Lost my enchanted pickaxe. =( Which.. broke things so fast, that's probably why I fell in the lava in the first place.

Also? Witches are super-bullshit.

(see, I have all these complaints about MC, but I still play. bleh)
posted by curious nu at 8:15 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also? Witches are super-bullshit.

I've learnt to deal with witches, but they're pretty pointless. If they dropped lots of cool potions / rare potion ingredients, then yeah maybe.
posted by Jimbob at 8:25 PM on September 15, 2014


I've learnt to deal with witches, but they're pretty pointless

I dunno, the game sorta plateaus when you've built a farm and got things set up enough to get comfortable. Witches are a good check on that. Keeps it honest.
posted by Hoopo at 10:04 PM on September 15, 2014


Is it just me, or are monsters no longer much of a threat? I can sleep outside at night, no attacks. I don't encounter zombie gang-ups any more. I go weeks and weeks without a monster taking me out... usually my death is by my own stupidity. I feel like I'm almost playing on peaceful mode, not hard.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:39 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or are monsters no longer much of a threat? I can sleep outside at night, no attacks. I don't encounter zombie gang-ups any more. I go weeks and weeks without a monster taking me out... usually my death is by my own stupidity. I feel like I'm almost playing on peaceful mode, not hard.

I was wondering about this myself. I've been playing in creative peaceful mode for the past year or more. With this most recent update I started a new world in survival mode to see what's up. The fighting seems much easier than when I last played in survival.
posted by cwest at 11:08 PM on September 15, 2014


JHarris: "Well my point wasn't that they should do this, just that the choice isn't strictly between keeping Minecraft and the headaches that involves, and selling to Microsoft. It's a wide world, there are options. Why not just sell his stake to the other Minecraft shareholders and get out?"

I like a lot of what you say about Minecraft - it's an amazing phenomenon, I agree - but to ask why notch didn't sell to "other shareholders" (I doubt they wanted to buy him out) or a nonprofit or something like that ignores what notch said about stepping down. It really isn't a wide world out there. You can say that most people aren't assholes, that most people just want to play, but that certainly isn't a community - it certainly isn't a platform for something like a platform run by people at large working together.

notch realized something fundamental about gaming, and about indie gaming in particular: there is no community there. There is no group dynamic, no fellow-feeling within gaming, or especially within indie gaming, that could ever keep a project like Minecraft working for more than a few years. Gaming is only a loose affiliation of two types of people: the people who are assholes, actively trying to destroy, and the (admittedly much larger) group of people who just want to play. And you can't build a community together - heck, you can't build anything together - when all you have is evil people and ambivalent people who can't be bothered.

Maybe the thing that made Microsoft's offer the most desirable one (I'm certain he has had dozens of others, at the very least, all of which he weighed carefully) was the fact that they were happy to give him an escape clause. I doubt Valve, or whatever other entities might have made offers, would have let him go as easily, if only because they knew that notch is (as he says) a symbol now. There wasn't gonna be some wonderful setup where a benevolent band of folks swooped in and carefully took Minecraft under their wing. At least, I gather notch didn't believe that was a possibility at this point. And I begin to agree with him.
posted by koeselitz at 11:47 PM on September 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well we're both really speculating here, as to motive. While they may have gotten better since Ballmer stepped down, it still seems strange, to me, that Notch would hand it over to one of the entities least capable of creating something like Minecraft. I'm not going to say that Microsoft was the worst choice, though, at least they have gaming experience now.

Although it's dawned on me why Microsoft wants Minecraft -- that game has sold huge numbers on Xbox 360, despite being a severely gimped version of the game. I can only speculate what people who bought the recently-release PS4 or PSVita versions of the game, hitherto expecting the same long sequence of support and updates the other versions have gotten, are feeling, but it's probably not pleasant. And if Notch really wanted out, Microsoft is probably the only group willing to pay that much.

notch realized something fundamental about gaming, and about indie gaming in particular: there is no community there. There is no group dynamic, no fellow-feeling within gaming, or especially within indie gaming, that could ever keep a project like Minecraft working for more than a few years.

With respect, I don't see how you can say this, and doubly so concerning Minecraft. Even if you just count kids, it has become a point of connection in many schoolyards, the Nintendo Entertainment System of the age. Two decades from now kids will be talking with fondness about their redstone contraptions or the mob grinder they built. It will be glorious to hear.

There wasn't gonna be some wonderful setup where a benevolent band of folks swooped in and carefully took Minecraft under their wing.

In fact, Mojang had the potential themselves to be that group, if allowed. They were profitable, and becoming more profitable. Notch had already created the company to shepherd Minecraft along, he needn't spare it a second thought, could just become the Paul Allen of Mojang. Of course, with his name still attached, he could end up being seen as the face of the game, which might not have been the distance he sought. Still, without personal knowledge of the crap he got from entitled fans, I can't say how much distance that is. I sincerely hope he doesn't end up coming to regret cashing out, it feels like a decision made in haste.
posted by JHarris at 12:08 AM on September 16, 2014


Of course, with his name still attached, he could end up being seen as the face of the game, which might not have been the distance he sought.

That's essentially what he tried to do, and it didn't work. He was still The Guy Who Made Minecraft, and I think fans were just expecting him to get over his funk and jump back into development in time for the next update. So yeah, he really did need to cut himself loose even further, but I worry that he will still be considered the face of Minecraft, even now, and I notice that a significant proportion of the peanut gallery over on /r/minecraft are all declaring THAT'S IT MINECRAFT IS OVER FUCK YOU, so I doubt he's escaped the hate yet.
posted by Jimbob at 12:17 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Notch is literally hard-coded into the game, by the way. If he logs into your server and you kill him, he drops an apple. I wonder if they'll remove that?
posted by Jimbob at 12:18 AM on September 16, 2014


As someone old enough to be pissed off when Microsoft bought Hotmail the craziest, most fucked-up things are; I think they underpaid by about 10 Billion
and Microsoft were by far the best option if he was going to sell.

For anyone over the age of 30 think about that last one for a second. We live in a world where Microsoft are kind of the good guys, or at least the not as bad guys.

Google - Steve now has your own name
Facebook - Steve now has your own face.
Apple - Have you seen Minecraft?
Valve - Minecraft 1.9 coming in 2024
EA - Everything moved to Origin and you have to buy Minecraft again, annually
Amazon - Oh my god they actually enslaved real people to mine diamond.

Well played Mr Gates, well played indeed.
posted by fullerine at 12:20 AM on September 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ubisoft - "With Minecraft 1.9, every world comes with 4 enormous hand-crafted cities put together by a team of 300 artists. Yes, of course you can go explore and check them out, you just need to watch this 90 minute cut-scene first. And complete the jumping tutorial, the tree-punching tutorial, the lumber-making tutorial, the stick-making tutorial, the crafting bench tutorial ... yes, I know you did all that in Minecraft 1.8 and 1.7 and several other earlier versions, but this is a new version! We need to make sure you can do all that stuff ... the pickaxe tutorial, the stone mining tutorial, the stone pickaxe tutorial ..."

Activision - "All those waist-high blocks will be perfect for our new cover system."
posted by straight at 1:57 AM on September 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh oh, don't forget about the expensive costume DLC! ("Let users make their own skins? Do you realize you're flushing money down the commode? Anyway that'd be too hard for our coddled moneyfarms, they might have to open MS Paint or something!")
posted by JHarris at 2:59 AM on September 16, 2014


Not to mention that new alternate, quasi-female character model Alex would be deemed not to show nearly enough pixelated skin for average players. (That is, the executive would instantly assume, presumably male players.)
posted by JHarris at 3:02 AM on September 16, 2014


I just rooted out my old minecraft password from when i bought it a year ago and fiddled around with it for five minutes before uninstalling it.

I made a world and hit a sheep. then I took the mutton chop that resulted and hit a pig. then i dug a hole in some sand with the porkchop. I went down until i hit rock, then looked up, laughed and uninstalled it.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:17 AM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think this is a good thing - I'm a long time minecraft player and think that this will only improve things.

My predictions:

* Microsoft will not curtail development on other platforms. It might do a little finagling to make sure Xbox gets more timely updates than other consoles but beyond this I don't imagine they'll change anything.
* Microsoft will not change the current dev team - with the exception of asking them repeatedly if they want additional staff, nothing will change in terms of direction/vision of how the core game should go.
-- That said, I'd expect to see some sort of direct Skype integration.
-- Simpler in-game ways to record and publish videos to a site (that isn't youtube).
* Minecraft will (finally) appear on steam. But, like Valve's own titles, it won't be discounted - in fact, it may even be more expensive than if you buy it direct.
* Microsoft will not mess with the modding community - they're part of the lifeblood and they'd be fools to do anything regarding this. If they do anything they'll try and get proper, working mod support. Forge looked really promising, but it really really wasn't.
* Microsoft will not mess with server owners, except to clamp down on excessive charges (e.g. Skyblock are a notable offender) or to somehow take a cut of those excessive charges. Considering the whole game costs $25, it's ridiculous to charge $15 for 8 diamonds on a server. This was already in progress before the takeover but it's possible it'll take a different approach now that there's new owners.
* Microsoft will not mess with YouTubers - it's free advertising.
* Microsoft will take much much more interest in protecting its IP in terms of real world goods. Books, T-shirts, Toys, etc. Mojang has been lax in protecting this and as a result every man and his dog is making knock-off minecraft toys without Mojang getting a cut. Expect to see much much more rigorous enforcement of this.
* This ties in with the movie - every single 7-14 year old minecraft player will want to see it. And want to see it again, regardless of what the critics say. It could be a godawful turkey (and probably will be) but it'll be one of the highest grossing movies of all time PLUS have a huge amount of merchandising tie-ins.
* Notch will continue to remain a figurehead though hopefully he'll get less abuse. I think he'll do great things with the cash.
* I expect Microsoft to take a lot of flak for this, but I believe it to be a good thing.
* I expect Microsoft to get a return on investment. $2,5b? Cheap compared with say, Whatsapp.
posted by BigCalm at 3:59 AM on September 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I admire your optimism, BigCalm.
posted by JHarris at 4:21 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I hope that's all true. But history is littered with examples of big companies buying the hot thing, just to dismantle it for parts, or inadvertently destroy it by trying to monetize it. Involving shareholders means a lot of short-term thinking.
posted by X-Himy at 6:25 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


EA - Everything moved to Origin and you have to buy Minecraft again, annually

Or worse... Have you seen PvZ2?
posted by Artw at 6:32 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I feel like this tweet from March was emblematic of the problem:

notch: "We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out."

It's very difficult to be hands off and say you don't know what's going on, and then drop edicts on the company when you feel like it. That makes people think you can change anything, because you can. Selling is the only way to cut that off.
posted by smackfu at 7:00 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dev teams for the mobile and console platforms are already separate groups. These were rewrites, not straight ports, as I understand it. Minecraft is really two/three games, pc, pocket and console, that all happen to share the same name. Gameplay and interfaces are divergent.

For all the sales on other platforms, the PC version is still the first class client, with the console/pocket versions being rather second class, late to features and additions. It would be nice to see that improve. I suspect we'd be looking at a version 2 rewrite for this to happen though.

The PC version does already have Twitch.tv integration. It will be interesting to see if that remains or if MS takes it out.

Adding Skype would be really an interesting plus. Skype and a other vocal communication addons like teamspeak and mumble are very common additions to the game. Skype is probably the most common though---this is low-hanging fruit for MS.

The IP and server issues could use a great deal more discipline. Apparently one of the most common inquiries to Mojang support is: "my kid just spent $X on a diamond pick axe, wtf?" Of course, that's to a third-party running a commercial server which Mojang couldn't really do anything about. I expect MS to be much less willing to sit back.

This, in part, is the EULA nonsense: Mojang allowed for-pay servers to develop for years, to the point where it's an accepted part multi-play now, with people making their livings off of it. In the past few months Mojang has attempted to stop that, both somewhat successfully with Realms, their own service, then to much drama, with a new EULA, which still has not been trotted out, even afters months of informal tweets and blogs posts from Mojang.
posted by bonehead at 7:26 AM on September 16, 2014


But, like Valve's own titles, it won't be discounted

Valve discounts their titles all the time. Left4Dead 2 is currently 75% off. According to IsThereAnyDeal, it's been on sale about 20 times in the last 12 months.
posted by straight at 8:27 AM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


me: “notch realized something fundamental about gaming, and about indie gaming in particular: there is no community there. There is no group dynamic, no fellow-feeling within gaming, or especially within indie gaming, that could ever keep a project like Minecraft working for more than a few years.”

JHarris: “With respect, I don't see how you can say this, and doubly so concerning Minecraft. Even if you just count kids, it has become a point of connection in many schoolyards, the Nintendo Entertainment System of the age. Two decades from now kids will be talking with fondness about their redstone contraptions or the mob grinder they built. It will be glorious to hear.”

Does the NES really cause people to try to work to bring other people together? I feel as much nostalgia for it as anybody. I'm not sure that nostalgia – which is rooted solely in games I loved to play when I was a kid, not some kind of civic responsibility – will ever motivate people to band together.

At least notch clearly didn't think so, reading his goodbye letter. And I take him at his word. Not to harp on it, but – This Is Phil Fish is a good illustration of the fact that indie games are not a community.
posted by koeselitz at 8:27 AM on September 16, 2014


To address that "indie games are not a community"...

I think the thing is that indie game DEVS are a community. Look at tigsource, for example. Back in the mid-late 00s is where a lot of that indie-dev stuff was happening, devs talking to other devs. Some of us were downloading and playing what amounts to cool prototypes or a little more, but still fairly limited... Steam wasn't selling indie. Greg Kostikyan (who wrote a killer note for the most part, regarding "gamergate", since we're talking about current game events) tried to make an indie storefront (Manifesto Games), but for the most part there was no market as a consumer item.

I think what we're going to see and what Notch sort of alludes to wit his talk about making non-popular games, working with ludum dare, etc... Is to get away from the whole "indie scene" as a consumer thing.

I think we're going to witness people who are in it for love to continue to do it for love, I think the people trying to make money (and I am not one to cast aspersions on any fellow dev for their motivations - I am sure most of them really DO want to make a game because that's their dream, but there's still that bubble, and that was driven by mass consumption - and I wonder how much Steam did play a role in that)...

No doubt the 3 consoles each played a role with their storefronts as well (and I'm not complaining, some amazing games were made that deserved to be made, and some great programmers and designers got paid for their labor and they deserved to be paid).

But as games have grown, so has their market and as markets have grown, as we see in many other areas, the masses aren't just "the masses" they're m-assholes.

Everybody wants to be a game designer, nobody wants to do the work to make a game (I mean here, the consumer, not the actual game devs). So it's easy to tell the designer how it should be done, and furthermore if the designer doesn't do it, these entitled people (because "THEY PAID!" "THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!") will berate them. It gets worse when adding gender into the mix, of course.

The issue of money is certainly another issue. I think one of the biggest problems these days is the very term "indie". Like "roguelike" it's an amorphous term. Since it's expanded from "no publisher" to encompass pro-designers who have left their publishers to old designers who want to resurrect an old game they made, along with kickstarters to get massive influx of cash into these dreams (that may or may not ever succeed; and of course, when you add in kickstarter you're amping up the whole entitlement because people feel they've put money toward something they demand it succeed/release, etc...), you end up with things being called "indie" that are not necessarily AAA titles these days, but would have been AAA a decade ago. Or they're AA titles now. Either way, they're beyond the simple "indiegames" from 5-10 years ago as well. Of course, to a degree, this is part of evolution - of COURSE games will be better today (well, I mean in terms of evolution of new ideas and mechanics). That's part of the thing with indie - exploring mechanics and ideas outside the traditional domains that are a "safe" bet.

So you have this tier of really higher level game devs/design, and then the lower tiers (I think I'd consider Notch in that category, because when Minecraft (cloning the other kaboom voxel games/demos before him) came out, it was clearly this small indie thing), and then you have these smaller groups of people with not nearly as much funding making smaller games... So how do you delineate the "True Scotsindie"?

This is an issue that has been fomenting in the background amongst some bloggers I've been reading (I think Rampant Coyote (a designer) has said some stuff on this issue, as well as Tobold, who is a gamer, not a designer)... I think you have this confluence of events and pressures and social feelings between the consuming public, the developers/designers, the question of money, the question of influence, the question of community all coming to a head.

I feel that the attitudes of the consumer-gamers will lead indie devs to say "fuck off" and keep making games in their gated game-design community. Some of this may or may not leak out. But I have a feeling we're going to have a more insular, small scale indie community that hearkens back to the roots of the modern concept of "indie games", and the AA/former-studio, now independent type games will march on with the label "indie".

I think what I envision as "real" indie will become more and more like it was before the gold rush: "Hobbyist".

Perhaps the popping of the bubble won't necessarily be a loss of games produced, but the market itself will have to deal with this withdrawal of the "hobbyist" devs into their own little enclaves, making games for each other. They will be called "elitists" and all sorts of things, but that's ok, because fuck the asshole gamers who feel entitled to great games for cheap and who think they know how to make a game better than the people who have put so much sweat and tears on the line, long before it was "hip" and "cool".

Indie games aren't a community, But hobbyist games have been and will be.

LONG LIVE HOBBYIST GAME DEV.
posted by symbioid at 1:26 PM on September 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


The PC version does already have Twitch.tv integration. It will be interesting to see if that remains or if MS takes it out.

Given the Xbox One's level of twitch integration, thinking they'd remove it from Minecraft seems very odd to me.
posted by sparkletone at 1:38 PM on September 16, 2014


So I'm the guy who made This Is Phil Fish, the video Notch cites, and if anyone was curious, it was a tweet from Notch 3 months ago that made the video go viral in the first place, to the tune of 90,000 views in a day. Notch mentioning the video in his goodbye post has started that whole cycle up again, with 75,000 views yesterday and another slew of articles.

I remember Tom Francis tweeting recently that his game Gunpoint had been purchased by less than 0.5% of Steam users, and that was enough to live on. That's how big Steam is. Similarly, Notch is so fucking famous that he can make you momentarily famous with a single casual mention.
posted by Peevish at 3:11 PM on September 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


that's a great video! also, gunpoint is an amazing and fun and beautiful game and everyone should buy it.
posted by nadawi at 3:19 PM on September 16, 2014


Similarly, Notch is so fucking famous that he can make you momentarily famous with a single casual mention.

I was watching my Twitter timeline at the moment Notch tweeted that "explanation" post. He got 250 retweets within 20 seconds. It's got to be so awful dealing with that, if you're just a guy who wanted to muck around programming silly computer games.
posted by Jimbob at 3:57 PM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, I think there are gamer communities. koeselitz, your original comment on the topic said there weren't, and there especially weren't indie gamer communities. But this is me being pedantic, heh.

There obviously are gamer communities. That is, in fact, a lot of the problem -- "community" is not an unalloyed good, bad attitudes can fester and grow there, which I think is how the overbearing sense of entitlement and problematic attitudes towards women grew. There is, I think, a community of indie gamers too, but it's not big compared to gamers in general, most people just play whatever they want without seeking those out particularly except when they're unusually buzzed about. They don't identify as indie gamers.

Concerning indies trying to survive -- well, however difficult it is, it's a hell of a lot easier than it was just a few years ago, when if you weren't a big company it was basically impossible to get any buzz at all.

I think the ultimate problem at work here is something that's been with us for a long time -- the cult of celebrity. People see one person make it big, fail to realize that it's always a combination of skill, luck, talent, luck, publicity, and LUCK, and then put that person into their Superpeople box, where they can talk whatever crap about that person they want and it'll just roll off his back because hey, he's rich, or he's above it all, or has more important stuff to do than read every tweet you say, or is just a publicity guy or mail-reader intern anyway, attitudes that have been fostered by the huge corporations who make most of our media. Ways of responding to corporations are often not appropriate when responding to individual folk; when a normal person somehow makes it to those ranks, the difference in attitude can be startling.
posted by JHarris at 4:05 PM on September 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


“Understanding what Minecraft really means to Microsoft,” Kris Graft, Gamasutra, 15 September 2014
posted by ob1quixote at 5:36 PM on September 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's got to be so awful dealing with that, if you're just a guy who wanted to muck around programming silly computer games.

The 2.5billion dollars probably helps with the awfulness.
posted by Justinian at 12:06 AM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah. For all people might complain about (fainting gesture) being rich and famous, it means he can now spend his time working on those little games he likes instead of earning food money. I'd love to be able to spend a lot of time on game projects -- one in particular. (sigh)
posted by JHarris at 1:50 AM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


For all people might complain about (fainting gesture) being rich and famous, it means he can now spend his time working on those little games he likes instead of earning food money.

I know this wasn't your main point, but revenues for Minecraft have been north of $25m/year for at least three years running. Notch hasn't had to worry about food money this decade.
posted by aureliobuendia at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


For all that people have been saying how nice it must be to be rich beyond any faintest need, the last line of his comment is possibly the most true: it's for his own sanity.

I've presumed that, essentially from the founding of Mojang, when the responsibility and demands on his attention began to get serious that Notch has been depressed. He abandoned projects and removed himself entirely from the daily cycle at Mojang. I think he's only recently begun to get out from under it. He's been through a lot of personal shit in the time too, marriage, quick divorce, death of a semi-estranged father.

He's been extraordinarily lucky in some ways, but has looked like the walking wounded. I would not expect him to have as high a profile retirement as Gates, for example. He may do the odd thing in the future, but I suspect he'll be most happy in obscurity, with no external expectations.
posted by bonehead at 9:21 AM on September 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


I should be clear with my last comment -- I'm not saying Notch is wrong. It's just that everyone strives to get into the position Notch is in, has to strive for it in fact.

Whole sectors of our society desperate play up every opportunity they get, no matter how slim, for the chance of possibly one day tasting less than a thousandth of what Notch has achieved. This isn't me trying to say "Notch should be fucking grateful," but instead, "It'd be nice if everyone didn't have to be (because of money's oversized importance in our culture) so desperate to get where Notch is."
posted by JHarris at 11:26 AM on September 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, here's something interesting from Reddit. About a month ago, somebody posted on AskReddit asking if anybody had ever been threatened with murder, and if so, what for. xNotch's reply: "Making a game."

On a lighter note, in one of the threads about the acquisition:

"I played it the other day (on console, for some reason) with Jakob, and was surprised by how much fun I actually had. Getting some distance from it made me see it with fresh eyes."

We found an underground ravine."

posted by koeselitz at 12:54 PM on September 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I've learnt to deal with witches, but they're pretty pointless.

Grind 'em for glowstone (you can skip to 9:30 if you want to cut to the chase though there's some inside-baseball-y backstory you'll miss). There is, ah, a bit of infrastructure you have to get into place...

Anyway... I can't imagine making any claims for how I would behave in the face of the temptation of receiving ones of millions of dollars for anything short of active evil (and the question of how active of how arguable evil I would condone for significantly less is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night... I was in a very serious interview process for a company that serves quite a few military contracts recently, and feel somewhat relieved not to have to really face the decision, but it's not like I walked away from the table at the revelation of their client base...)

I find myself wondering if on some level the "burned bridge" aspect of a positively canonical sell-out to the classic acquisition Borg didn't hold some of the appeal. It's a conclusive break with the game for Persson.

I also think you can't underestimate the sort of high-power salesmanship and executive charisma a company like Microsoft would bring to bear on making a deal like this happen. That official statement from Mojang is an almost charmingly artless mash-up of "we just don't know" frankness with sort of obviously (if probably relatively innocent)* weaselly "why gosh we can't think of any reason why our new soulless corporate overlords would want to just screw everybody" informationless statements. On the other hand that statement by Phil Spencer linked above just gives me a big ol' "it could really be okay" fuzzy even though it doesn't really say a whole lot more (well he does specifically state a "goal" to develop across Playstation, Android, and iOS, and of course to "listen").

It's very easy to say, oh, establish a nonprofit foundation and gift Minecraft to the world for generations to come - easy when you're spending someone else's theoretical money (because how much cash Mojang/Markus Persson could actually, circa September 14, 2014, bring to bear on such an aspiration is a wholly theoretical one); it would be a profound and harrowingly complicated undertaking (and anyone who thinks different or thinks those, for the sake of argument, putative hundreds of millions of dollars available for the effort would represent some order of magnitude greater sum than would be required to do it correctly, I suspect has not had much experience in real non-profits) - and bear in mind you're asking the other founders to sign on to draining the corporate coffers for this, and you need to recruit a board and get the right lawyer and hire some executives with nonprofit experience, just for starters...

Whatever the case it's an almost comically contrary answer to the apparent (given Persson's statement on the sale) desire to simply be free of Minecraft, a thing he explicitly never aspired to be more than a rung on a ladder to the chance to develop another game.

By many reports his and Mojang's relationship with Microsoft was good, and Persson had been favorably impressed with the experience of working with them on the Xbox version. I think they came to him with a neatly packaged, crushingly superior (from the economic perspective) deal that they were ready to execute on with speed and efficiency (I'm quite certain things Steam was not prepared to deliver, asking price aside) - with a lot of convincing assurances that they got and wanted to support the ethos of Minecraft (please scoff all you want at this point, the better part of me is certainly waiting to be disappointed by the ultimate outcome of it all in a depressingly familiar and predictable way)... I end up with not a bit of surprise that Persson and the other founders accepted and judging him over it honestly strikes me as almost comical.
posted by nanojath at 8:57 PM on September 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


*"probably relatively innocent..." hah, talk about weaselly...
posted by nanojath at 8:59 PM on September 18, 2014


I've learnt to deal with witches, but they're pretty pointless. If they dropped lots of cool potions / rare potion ingredients, then yeah maybe.

Better Than Wolves fixes this with a few changes:

1: A witch always spawns on hut generation and doesn't despawn unless you kill her.
2: You can no longer craft brewing stands, they have to be stolen from witch huts.
3: Witches drop 'witch wart', which extends potion duration.
4: Witches also spawn at random in swamps, whether there is a witch hut nearby or not.
posted by empath at 7:13 AM on September 19, 2014


Only reason you spend $2.5 billion on something is because you figure you're gonna make at least $5 billion on it. In the gaming industry, I reckon the rule of thumb is you don't make $5 billion dollars by making leaps-and-bounds innovations and releasing it as open source, you make $5 billion by slight increments in graphics quality (see: Call of Duty, GTA, The Sims etc.) released with numbing regularity. So look forward to Minecraft 2015, Minecraft 2016, etc., with multiplayer leaderboards, a small selection of shovel skins, and servers that shut down when the next release appears.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:38 PM on September 21, 2014


Board: we expect 10% growth in revenue.
CEO: OK, we've just bought a buy company with revenue 10% of ours. Next year we make 110%!
Board: yay! have a lollipop!

Sometimes it's just that stupid.
posted by bonehead at 11:19 AM on September 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


When all is said and done, it is proper awesome that Notch gets to be a billionaire.
For all his fedora wearing ways, he's always seemed to me to be a good kid at heart.
posted by fullerine at 5:19 PM on September 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, in that regard, no matter how worried I am about the fate of the game and the expectations of all those kids, there aren't a lot of people more deserving of lots of money. Welcome, Notch, to the bonus round.
posted by JHarris at 1:08 AM on September 23, 2014


I was thinking earlier that he probably got the raw end of the deal.

If XX million people have bought Minecraft and have had even half the amount of entertainment that I've had for their $XX then he is probably owed a bit more.

He's affected a generation of children.
I only hope he understands that however much hate he receives there is an awful lot more love out there.
Which will become obvious when they elect him God of All Things in about 30 years ;)
posted by fullerine at 7:26 AM on September 23, 2014


One of the reasons Notch is so well loved is the value he created by the continuous release process, something Mojang continues to this day. For an initial $20 or so during beta, I've had free updates, typically several times a month for four years. That's an insane deal.

Any other company, e.g. Firaxis, to pick a random, but well-loved mainstream dev, would have produced a couple of add-on/DLC packs and likely a second release as well in that time frame. I've spent $20 on MC so far, I would have (indeed have) spent many times that on Civ5+DLC packs.

The value provided by Notch is insane, but that's also a huge part of its appeal, and why, IMO, sales growth has been monotonically increasing for four years. MC sales have not only not slowed down in four years, they're still increasing! There's a value/business case in MC that is clearly not the same as the model currently used by the mainstream AAA games industry, of which MS is a major part.

I argue that only someone like Notch in combination with the monetary freedom sole ownership allowed could have created such a model, without the pressures of investors or MBAs looking to extract immediate quarterly profits. It's a model that has been repeated by other indie developers: Terraria, Starbound, etc...

My main worry for the future is how much MS understand this model and appreciate how well it works in this instance. It's not at all clear that they do, that their plans involve a more traditional AAA game marketing strategy: MC 2.0 and extra DLC to follow. An MC 2.0 will not be the end of MC as a great game, but it will mark the end of the MC phenomenon, as a wild sprout outside of the intensively farmed AAA game crop fields.
posted by bonehead at 9:03 AM on September 23, 2014


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