For millions of people, Minecraft has become a way of life. Started in 2009 by a man named Markus Persson (known to the Minecraft universe as Notch), the massively multiplayer online sandbox has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, with more than 10 million users. It’s a bestseller on PC, Mac, mobile and even the Xbox.
Is there a business selling ads to this rabid audience? The startup Adventurize — and others vying for that same market — are about to find out.
Adventurize’s beta product allows companies to create text-based ads that they pay for on a per-day rate. Essentially, while a gamer is busy bashing creepers or mining ore, an ad will run in the game’s chat window at the bottom of the page. Adventurize isn’t the only company to try its hand at this. AdCraft released its own public beta in February. Both run on Bukkit — popular advanced server software that many run for Minecraft — with compatible plug-ins that operate the same way that game mods do.
Advertising on mobile games is expected to grow fast — Juniper Research projects in-app advertising will be a $7.1 billion industry by 2015 . But ads in Minecraft feel…well, weird.
Notch left the game open and free for years, only monetizing it when he truly felt it was “complete.” Although it was free in both alpha and beta, Minecraft’s price jumped to $30 after a formal release in November 2011. The spike in cost didn’t seem to hurt the game’s growing user base, and Mojang (which started after the game’s initial success) reported a 2012 revenue of about 1.5 billion kronor ($237.7 million). Mojang CEO Karl Manneh attributed the success to the release of the game for console and mobile.
While the introduction of advertising has some obvious financial benefits for Mojang, it, of course, also runs the risk of alienating the people who just want some peace, quiet and a little mining.