The Insane Success of Minecraft: $33M and Counting

Minecraft

MinecraftWhen it comes to games, not everything is happening at Zynga or on the iPhone. In fact, the games industry chatter is so dominated by mobile games, apps and social developers, it is easy to overlook some very cool (and big) developments outside of that bubble,.

Want proof? Look at Minecraft. Explaining the game can be tricky: it’s a crude 3D sandbox building game that lets you construct worlds on your own or with other players. Imagine if Doom went on a romantic date with a box of LEGO bricks and got drunk, and you might be halfway there. It runs in the browser, and is incredibly collaborative, addictive and expansive — with people building all kinds of crazy stuff inside the game.

It’s become an underground hit, despite the fact that it’s largely the work of a single Swedish programmer, Markus “Notch” Persson, and still being officially in beta (the first full version will be out in November). In fact, “hit” doesn’t really start to describe it.

Mojang (Persson’s compny) said the game passed 1 million sales in January, but now Notch has explained exactly how much money is coming in from his creation. In a great AMA (Ask Me Anything) thread on Reddit, he explained precisely what revenues were.

How much does he make?

“A lot. It all ends up in an account somewhere, and I try not to look at it. I get a normal salary these days for day to day stuff, but there’s a big pile somewhere.

The game sold about 800,000 copies at 9.95 euro and then so far 1 million more at 14.95 euro. PayPal takes a cut, there are taxes, and such, but it’s still a huge wad of money.”

It adds up to almost €23 million in revenues — and at today’s exchange rate that’s more than $33 million. That’s for a team that Wikipedia says now consists of eight people, and has had to deal with its share of unauthorized copying. That’s serious stuff, and makes Mojang one of the most efficient companies in the world — more profitable per employee than the usual leading contenders, Nintendo and Goldman Sachs.

If you’re interested in his outlook on things, it’s worth reading the rest of the thread.

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