Indie game developers had their heads turned to Stockholm this weekend. Mojang, the independent game development company with the popular Minecraft title posted a turnover of SEK 1.15 billion (€133 million), and profits before taxes at SEK 580 million (€67 million). For what was once posted on the internet as a rough project, Minecraft (and therefore Mojang) has grown into a massive gaming movement.
So far, over 9 million copies of the PC/Mac version have been sold, with a growing number on the mobile version for iOS and Android, as well as an Xbox 360 version. Other revenue is coming in through vinyl toys, t-shirts, hoodies, and other merchandise.
CEO Carl Manneh (listen to last years’ podcast interview here) tells IT24.se that there’s still room for growth. “Minecraft is a power of its own now – it’s just rolling,” he said. “We have so many markets where we are not very strong yet, where many play Minecraft but few have bought it simply because you can’t use our online payment solution there. That’s something we’ll get our hands to during 2013.”
To a casual observer Mojang = Minecraft, but in reality they have a few titles under their belt. It doesn’t mean that these games are significant source of their revenue, but could point to future growth. Mojang is actively developing Scrolls, “a fresh take on the collectable card games of old,” that lets you play casual card-based matches against your friends. Currently Scrolls is in Alpha 0.79, and in an invite-only Alpha.
Another game, 0x10c, is also currently under development. It’s set in a parallel universe where the space race never ended, and seems like a great way to dig into computer programming, while offering the same sort of open creativity of Minecraft. The generator of the ship :
Each ship has a generator capable of producing a fixed wattage, and everything you connect to it drains wattage. A cloaking field, for example, might require almost all the power from the generator, forcing you to turn off all computers and dim all lights in order to successfully cloak.
The computer in the game is a fully functioning emulated 16 bit CPU that can be used to control your entire ship, or just to play games on while waiting for a large mining operation to finish.
Their other title, Cobalt, was created by Oxeye studios and is Mojang’s first published release by a third-party. Cobalt has been released with the same strategy as Minecraft, allowing users to pay and download the game during Alpha, giving users a chance to shape the 1.0 release.
Mojang, the company set up after Minecraft’s success, pays licensing fees to Notch Development AB to the tune of SEK 640 million (€74 million). Minecraft was already rolling fast when Mojang was set up, which is likely the reason for licensing from another company.
On a Reddit post titled “Notch earned $101 million from Minecraft in 2012“, Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson responded:
It’s weird as fuck. I grew up in a relatively poor family, but once I got a decent job, I never really had to worry about money. My hobbies were playing games and programming, so there wasn’t any real drain. I could eat out when I wanted to, and go to the movies without having to save up for it. I still had to save up for trips and to be able to buy computers or consoles, but that just felt normal.
Now, all of the sudden, as a result of how modern society works, I managed to somehow earn a shit-ton of money. I still like playing games and programming, and once I had the latest computer and consoles, there really isn’t much more to spend the money on than traveling. I might eventually get a driver’s license so I can buy a car.
I think the right way to use money like this is to set a decent portion aside to make sure my family is comfortable, 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, such as the EFF.
In a world of corporate polished games, it’s been fun to watch Minecraft’s “rough around the edges but open to a conversation” style of development. Minecraft was released to the public May of 2009, so will it peak once they run out of markets and platforms? I don’t know, with more updates coming every month, it could be a cult classic that sticks.