Many of you by now have surely heard of Microsoft’s acquisition of Mojang, the studio behind the massively popular game, Minecraft. The deal cost Microsoft $2.5 billion. They expect to break even during the current fiscal year while also maintaining that Minecraft will remain available on other platforms including PC, mobile, and their competitor’s consoles. On the surface, this seems like a money-maker for Microsoft, but the real story is that the three founders of Mojang will be departing from the studio when the acquisition is finalized. With the three founders that made the company what it is leaving, one has to ask if the acquisition was really worth it. Obviously the studio will still maintain the highest of standards with their main IP, but Minecraft has become much more than just a game. Much like Fez captured the hearts of the indie scene, Minecraft was seen as the indie game which made the cross-over from obscure to being on every 13-year old’s iPad. Notch, one of the founders of Mojang, was looked at as something of a hero, a representative of the gaming underdog, someone we could hold up. Of course, when we hold someone up, we don’t want them to move out-of-place. Notch released a blog post where he discusses his departure and his position within the world of gaming.
“Minecraft certainly became a huge hit,” he said, “and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either.” While the rest of the letter can be read in the provided link, I feel that his post reveals something that all those involved in gaming should note, and should think about when we consider how we treat those who simply want to make bleeps and bloops for our enjoyment, and their own. The letter continues:
“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.
As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.
Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.
I’m aware this goes against a lot of what I’ve said in public. I have no good response to that. I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.
I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.
It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”