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November 15, 2010 / zachfarley

5 Leading Factors in Minecraft’s Explosion!

Minecraft is an indie computer game created by a Swedish developer named “Notch” .  It gained huge popularity and has now sold over (update 12/3) 700k copies and registered2.27 million users!  Think about Microsoft and their marketing campaign for Kinect. They took over Times Square, brought in Burger King and even gave units away on Oprah. Minecraft didn’t have any of these luxuries, but has still spread like wildfire throughout the internet. Castle

Here is how Minecraft became huge!

1. Youtube – How did I even find out about this game? Youtube! Users have been creating content and worlds within minecraft and many have gone viral. If you like (update, star trek not star wars! Props to Eulogy1337 on twitter for noticing this gaffe!)  If you like Bioshock, someone created content for you. If you like Roller Coaster Tycoon, someone created content for you. All these spinoffs have huge installed user bases and once you see the world of minecraft, you think, wait, what game is that?

2. Freemium – Minecraft has a free version which you can play in browser for nothing. It is an addicting game and you get to try it out! While the full version (still in alpha) only costs 10 euro, its always nice to see if the game will work on your computer and you understand it before diving in. This has led to 30+% of people buying the game who play it, that is an extremely high conversion rate. Notch did an amazing job giving people just enough and offering them more for a small cost!

3. Passionate Community – The minecraft forums are an amazing place. You can learn, read, talk with other fans about the game. Every world is so customizable in minecraft that its a great place for everyone to show off their work. The people who bought the game and posted content about it are truly the games biggest marketers. People are excited to be on the front end of something remarkable and love to tell friends they found it. The community is also very helpful, so if you are just starting out they will answer any questions you have! Users also have created big multiplayer servers and its great to hop on and interact!

4. Creativity – Gaming has become so scripted and cinematic in recent years that it is nice to play in an open world. Even sandbox games have become stale in recent years with similar missions and the need to travel across the map. In minecraft you really have nothing to do other than survive. Some people may not like that you are free and say, “Well whats the point?” However, as soon as you get your hands on it and create a little world, you will understand the beauty.

5. Developer who listens – Notch has done an amazing job of being responsive to his community. They recommend items and he legitimately decides if they are good for the game.  He is now working full time on the game and even has a small support team in place to help him out. He doesn’t force you to download a license to play and lockdown his game. His attitude has no hint of arrogance, just an honest want to make the game better. Now that he has the time and resources to develop full time, it will be amazing to see what other additions are added to such a young game in development terms.

All of these factors have  made Minecraft the quickest exploding indie game of all time. Notch didn’t care about profit or squeezing money out of his customers, only creating the best game possible. Once he put that product on the market and gamers understood what it was all about, they chose to support an amazing effort. In the end, minecraft is all about creativity and I believe notch has also created a new way for indie games to explode!



Leave a Comment
  1. ioh / Dec 6 2010 2:17 pm

    Interesting read. Personally I found out about Minecraft by stumbling across a fan made video (

    I then found a torrent of MC Alpha and loved it so much that I bought it at the end of my first gaming session. I wonder how many other people tried the torrent before buying, and how much influence it had on the MC popularity explosion.

    Minecraft has sold over 700k copies as of yesterday btw 🙂

  2. tortenlieferant / Dec 6 2010 3:00 pm

    OMG! you did NOT link the “Enterprise D” as something from the glorious world of star wars, did you? 😡

    But nice article u wrote there.. and thanks for the bioshock link ❤

  3. mrbillywhite / Dec 6 2010 3:39 pm

    I found out about the game after seeing a post about a community-made Minecraft level on the Team Fortress 2 blog. From here, I played the free version, watched numerous viral hits (particularly SeaNanners’ Welcome To Minecraft series) and had many a conversation with a good friend of mine that owned it, all of which led me to buy the game.

    One of the main things that I think you missed though, is the price. Because Notch made it half price during Alpha stage, everyone wants to buy it before it doubles when the game reaches Beta status, hence the huge number of sales already.

    • zachfarley / Dec 6 2010 3:42 pm

      Agree 100% about seananners video series, what a great way to learn the game. I watched 8 in a row and couldnt wait to get home and buy it. Brilliant alpha move by notch too, 10 dollars for a game this deep is a JOKE! Plus free updates, its crazy! So much value. Think about all the DLC crap the big companies try and sell to raise profits, there is none of that here!

  4. Tahg / Dec 6 2010 3:43 pm

    Minecraft has registered more than 2.27 million users.

  5. Dan / Dec 6 2010 4:46 pm

    I agree with all these comments. Minecraft is a game that hits at the core of every gamer. To be able to immerse yourself in a virtual world and do anything you want is amazing…..and this for under $15. Just like many other people, I heard about the minecraft craze and did an initial investigation by going to the website. But it wasn’t until I watched some youtube videos and played the trial online that I got hooked and it has been wonderful every since. I can’t wait to see what the final game will be like with all the “extra updates” added in. This game is great and Notch has done a wonderful job.

  6. Zeroaster / Dec 7 2010 3:12 am

    Its funny how this guy didn’t even touch on the biggest factor of Notch’s success. Minecraft is awesome because it put substance over flashyness. The opposite to this would be Unreal when it came out. Graphics is a cheap thrill. It should always be behind gameplay and game mechanics should always be first.

    • zachfarley / Dec 7 2010 5:15 am

      Agree with you 100%
      A crappy game wouldn’t receive all this support from its fan base. Too many people say “but it looks crappy” then they see how deep and easy it is to play, then they are hooked. I’ve seen too many beautiful games graphically that don’t live up to the hype. Good points

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