MINECRAFT Sells 10 Million Copies on PC
The indie darling MINECRAFT has just crossed a fairly epic threshold: it’s sold 10 million copies on the PC alone, and over 20 million on all its platforms (mobile and Xbox 360). Let’s put this in perspective: that’s almost 2 HALF-LIFEs on the PC. Minecraft has always regularly updated, and hot on the tails of the recent Redstone release, Minecraft lead Jens Bergensten recently posted this tweet after the announcement:
— Jens Bergensten (@jeb_) April 4, 2013
By the way, for you non-Redditors, that’s a horse. How has MINECRAFT, how do you say, built this amazing achievement?
1. Virtual Legos appeals to the 80’s kid in us.
If you’re anything like me, and I hope to the Dark Lords you’re not in some respects, you played with creative toys like Legos when you were a kid. They’re the ubiquitous, colorful playthings that exercised our flaccid, TV-drained imaginations on a countless numbers of living room floors. Over the years, they’ve gotten progressively weirder, becoming less brick-land and more high octane robots and movie tie-ins, as well as a confusingly popular series of pop culture video game adaptations. Open-ended world building was always tied into some sort of narrative in previous games, or a level editor was part of an experience, not the center. MINECRAFT helped us realize how much we liked to make stuff. And since the average age of a gamer is around 30, many of us have fond memories of endless hours of building and wanted that in the virtual space as well.
2. Mojang’s strength is its independence.
There are few stories like MINECRAFT. They’re privately owned, totally self-funded, and self-publish, which is how I define “independent”. Mojang began like a rock band selling t-shirts out of the back of their van. For all intents and purposes, MINECRAFT should not be as popular as it is. Conventional “market wisdom” tells us players want linear, simple experiences with high definition graphics, not a generative sandbox that looks like Q*Bert threw up in my backyard. But it worked because there was no one telling Mojang what they thought you wanted. They simply made the game they wanted to play, and it clicked with the Internet generation starved for creative content to this extent.
3. Simple but deep gameplay.
Despite the fact that Minecraft requires a NASA supercomputer to run smoothly, the simplistic facade and mechanics slowly roll back to reveal a deep and complex system of crafting, building, hunting, scavenging, and of course, mining. There’s not a single object in the game that you can pick up that’s not used in crafting. The sheer amount of things you can do gradually become apparent as you progress. The game embraces the idea of just wandering around, exploring. Maps can get so large that interested emergent things happen, such as discovering a ravine, digging down into it, fighting off waves of zombies and skeleton archers, and then emerging on the other side of a deep mine to a whole new continent. Few games offer this level of amazing, expansive replayability.
4. Regular Updates
I picked up MINECRAFT when it was in alpha way back in 2010 and played it obsessively ever since. One of my pet peeves is that there’s no official mod API, so every time the game updates and add great new content, all your HD texture packs, new mobs, and flora will break like a senior citizen’s hip. The truth is, the game updates a ridiculous amount and continuously after Mojang made all their skrilla from us, they still provide free, continual updates. They’ve also stayed by their promise to alpha and beta adopters to provide all new (including full updates) of the game free of charge. This is a smart move. They’re improving the experience for current players by continually adding to the game and attracting new players as well. Speaking up updates, Minecraft is hinting at the 1.6 release, and they’ve officially hired on the Bukkit mod developers, so maybe that Mod API is right around the… oh man… block.
Go check out Minecraft if you haven’t. Seriously.