For those out the loop, at first glance Minecraft appears to have all the hallmarks of a classic arcade game developed in the nineties. The pixilated graphics – for non-gamers at least, make it hard to believe that it’s actually the second bestselling game of all time, and is very much enjoying the height of its popularity with over 54 million copies sold.
Swedish programmer Markus Persson single handily created the game in the latter part of the 2000s – an unusual and impressive feat in the age of focus groups and colossal budgets. In Minecraft, the only limitations are, so to speak, your imagination. Gamers can create entire cities and construct their very own virtual utopias. For the uninitiated, the game is said to be incomprehensible, yet for the millions of players who invest countless hours into the title, it’s a revolutionary gaming experience.
Persson was born in Sweden to a Finnish mother and a Swedish father, and is said to have had an active interest in programming from an early age – creating his first game at eight years of age. He worked as a game developer for the social gaming firm King.com, before moving on to Jalbum, a firm that creates software for managing and creating digital photography. Finally, while working on Minecraft in his spare time, he decided to quit his job and pursue the project full-time.
The game evokes recollections of The Sims franchise, where essentially no clear objective is defined. Perhaps a shared element to both games’ success is the possibility for the gamer to create a virtual reality, whereby everything is tailor-made to the player’s specifications. Minecraft is unapologetically old-school, and has – whether inadvertently or deliberately – tapped into a gaming goldmine with its ethos of allowing the gamer to create the game they want to play.
The biggest selling version of the game is Minecraft: Pocket Edition at approximately 21 milliion, which can be played on various platforms, such as mobile gaming site Browsergamez, for example. Also playable on PCs and consoles, Minecraft even has its own yearly convention titled ‘Minecon’.
Winds of Change
In early 2015, Persson made a tweet that changed things dramatically, which read: “Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life?”. Mojang was Persson’s firm who created Minecraft. The post attracted the attention of Microsoft, who were swift to offer him over $2 billion for his shares in the company. If any truth is to be found in the Swedish tabloids, Persson now spends his days partying in his new Beverly Hills mansion, which he reportedly bought for a cool $70 million late last year.
For more info on the man himself, Forbes released a revealing interview with Persson, who discussed his life after the sale to Microsoft.