The internet is awash with comments on Minecraft. I had known it to be a game but to be honest had given it little attention since there were far too many other projects to devote time to. That was my first mistake.
I don’t really intend this to be a review of Minecraft, firstly because it’s still in beta and actively worked on but secondly, I’m sure that you’ve read 1001 other reviews.
In summary, Minecraft is a sandbox game which allows you to construct buildings/creations whilst avoiding nasties along the way. Its an indi game written by people who do not have the muscle of say Codemasters or Activision and the current popularity of Minecraft is a heart warming story that should give any indi dev faith that when you produce a quality product, customers will come in droves. In the beginning of April it was reported that Minecraft had sold around 2 million copies.
Mojang games certainly seems to be reaping the rewards of giving users what they want at a good price.
So what is the significance of Minecraft?
With debit card in hand, I took advantage of the special offer of a 25% discount whilst the product is still in Beta and what a good decision that was. Whilst as I say, I don’t intend for this to be another Minecraft review, I will say that the purchase was incredible value for money with my wife loving the game to bits aswell.
The Minecraft success story is important when highlighting a few points. Firstly, the argument that consumers are not yet ready for a new business model is really put to rest by the fact that a small indi-developer can product something which so many people want and secondly it shows that “piracy” really doesn’t seem to affect those developers who produce a quality product, which is what Minecraft is.
With Minecraft being written in Java and therefore cross-platform Markus Persson had the insight to cater for all users. As the Humble Indi Bundle showed, it appears Linux users spend more on software when given the chance to have it natively on their platform, that bodes well not only for the future of Linux but also its appeal to developers to ensure native compatibility with Linux in the future.
The best form of advertising
Just as Linux has seen, word of mouth advertising is far more powerful than any amount of money thrown at an ad campaign, it goes back to my earlier point of when you have a quality product, people will flock to it.
How many times have we seen flashy adverts (looking at Microsoft here) where the product failed to meet the expectations of users? Or look at the film industry, how many times have we seen a movie where the best parts were included in the trailer? Word of mouth, does these products harm because consumers are not frightened to voice their dissatisfaction. As Microsoft seems to be finding out only now, you can’t fight word of mouth advertising. It’s why FOSS & GNU/Linux continue to be advocated, deployed and loved.
YouTube is filled with users showing their creations to the world and there’s a whole “dev” community built up around constructions within the game itself and that in itself speaks of the success of the title.
Conclusions – The future
When look at why Minecraft is such great fun, it’s reveals its a very clever title. Minecraft appeals to those who enjoy “progression” within a game as a loop of the formula : more time spent = new items revealed/new experiences. It also plays on people’s creativity and want of freedom in a game. These ingredients have proved to be winning ones in other games and the sandbox genre is not only a popular one but guarantees reply value and longevity, ergo more word of mouth advertising and more people brought to the product.
I really hope other budding Indi-devs take inspiration from the success story that is Minecraft. If you haven’t bought the game yourself, shame on you! I would recommend this title 100% and in a world of gaming where it appears to be migrating more and more towards realistic violence , it’s a refreshing (and pleasant) change to have something like Minecraft that the whole family can enjoy.
In the meantime, Mojang games are giving teasers of their new game Scrolls, which can be found here: http://www.scrolls.com/
Minecraft proves that if the product is good, the results speak for themselves. It was a well made purchase for me and I am pleased to be contributing to the success story that is Minecraft.
You can visit the homepage of Minecraft here: http://www.minecraft.net
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