Minecraft is one of the gaming industries biggest success stories to date. The exciting title mixes many elements from other games to arrive at a concept that is in equal measures innovative and playable. But what is the story behind this absolute smash-hit and just who created Minecraft in the first place?
The man behind the seemingly basic concept was born in Denmark on June 1st, 1979. Markus Alexej Persson, or Notch, as he would later be known, displayed a keen interest in numbers, shapes and colors from an early age. This interest was encouraged by his father who owned an early home computing system, the Commodore 128. The then state-of- the-art machine helped to encourage a life-long passion for programming within Persson and countless hours were spent trying to understand the nuances and subtleties of advanced coding.
By the time Persson was eight years old, his family had moved to Sweden. It was there that he would program his first game. The game itself was a simple text-based adventure title that he had programmed using lines of codes manually typed into a command prompt. His early love of shapes, color and numbers combined perfectly with this fledgling appreciation of coding and programming and it was soon apparent that Markus had talent that matched his levels of passion.
Notch discovers his skills as a programmer
A few years later, Persson joined king.com where he would work as a game developer. It was during this period of his life that he was able to hone his game-design skills and perfect his knowledge of coding.
In 2009, he left the company to join Jalbum, where he became a key programmer. It was during this part of his life that Persson would begin to develop the concept of Minecraft.
At Jalbum, Markus became aware of a game entitled ‘Dwarf Fortress’. The game’s main objective was for the player to thrive in challenging environments by using resources around them. It featured a number of dwarf characters who had the task of building a suitable stronghold on various maps.
In order to first survive, and then thrive, in Dwarf Fortress, a player had to use the world around them to harvest resources. Tasks would include chopping down trees, mining ore from the mountains, cooking, fishing and making furniture. Meanwhile, another team of dwarfs would be responsible for depending the workers from attack. These concepts would influence the direction Persson was taking his young, original concept.
It was around this time that Perrson decided to take a step from Jalbum in order to concentrate of development of Minecraft. He reduced his hours, becoming a part-time employee and some of his team followed suit. The group he assembled became Mojang and prepared the original version of Minecraft for release in 2011.
Minecraft seemed to be an overnight sensation. The original alpha and beta versions of the software are estimated to have generated over $33 million in revenue. This was predominantly off the back of word of mouth as the team did not publicize the test versions of the game. It’s quite remarkable that the little independent studio was able to create such a stir with next to no marketing behind them but I guess that just highlights how great the game actually is.
Since it’s official full-version release, Minecraft continues to grow in popularity. The game has gone from strength to strength and currently enjoys the titles of best selling PC game and second best selling video game of all time. The only game to enjoy even greater success than Minecraft is the mighty Russian behemoth that is Tetris.
Microsoft buys Minecraft
Naturally, Perrson’s success with Minecraft attracted a lot of attention from the gaming industy. There were many large companies that sought to buy-out Mojang and cash in on the studio’s success.
Feeling unsure of how he could take Minecraft to the next level on his own, Perrson relented to the pressure to sell in September 2014. He finally agreed on a deal with Microsoft, who purchased the independent company for $2.5 billion.
Microsoft takes Minecraft to dizzying heights
By November 2014, Markus Persson fully transferred creative authority over Minecraft to Jens Bergentsen. Around this time, he also left Mojang after the Microsoft deal. Microsoft continued developing the game and forming more spin-off titles for the franchise.
To date, Minecraft has sold over one hundred million copies from its initial release in 2011 until June 2016. Moreover, Microsoft claims that Minecraft still enjoys over 40 million regular users. This following likes nothing more than to spend their time adventuring, exploring and making beautiful, creative projects with the software. We’re sure Markus ‘Notch’ Perrson is very proud of his creation and understandably so.
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