MineCraft – Indie hit is Social Gaming’s Cinderella

I rarely write short articles. Let alone about Video Gaming.

But MineCraft is waaay too addictive for anyone with lots of idle time to put aside, so I decided to put pen to paper and take a stab at explaining why MineCraft is the Gaming Cinderella of Social Gaming.

MineCraft’s gameplay is a lot like Myst or even Riven, a new release for which was review on this very blog by Kelroy in the article aptly titled Rift Beta Impressions.

It is a role-playing Social Game involving a rather plain looking environment which reminds me of those old Mario Games with the block-like environment, only in 3D, LEGO Land Style. But is as addictive as Plants vs. Zombies!

What can I say, I am very much part of the demographic that plays Social Games, as I pointed out in my article Console Gaming’s Downfall – Future is up in the Clouds.

There are no rules, and even after you have downloaded and installed the client to the PC, there are none, really. Like Myst or Riven, you are pretty much left to your own devices, with some help available from the MineCraft Wiki website.

MineCraft began as the brainchild of a one-man programming machine Swede Markkus “Notch” Persson, who cobbled the game together while still working as a Game Developer/Programmer at Jalbum.net. A Game Developer with work experience from King.com, his vision of a Block world based on the game InfiniMiner  came to life on May 10th, 2009AD.

Within seven (7) days, he released the alpha version (read taste-and-buy) on May 17th, 2009 priced tentatively EU$9.95 to order. His server promptly crashed in September, overwhelmed with the game’s addictive popularity, despite being alpha and NOT free.

Very rare combination!

The world and Markkus “Notch” Persson’s life have not been the same since. He eventually quit his job to be a Game Developer on his Java-based creation full-time, incorporating a company along the way and snatched up some employees by September of 2009.

Thus Mojang was born. Progressive growth and organization then took shape, as the game’s fame spread, evidenced by the number of FaceBook Fan pages and YouTube posts of people progress in the game. Good to note here that this is a Java Game, requiring the game to run completely in the browser riding atop the Java Runtime Environment.

It’s light on its feet, but not on the pocket, as the beta test version is now up to EU20.00. But with such simple gameplay involving merely clicking a mouse, much akin to Plants vs Zombies, to kill….well zombies, and creativity-driven building during daylight hours in the game, it can quite easily become VERY addictive.

You will get PC Gamer’s Thumb, CTS (Carpel Tunnel Syndrome) and you ENTIRE hand going numb with a lot of single-mouse click zombie fighting at nights and building like Bob the Builder in the daylight hours.

During the day, you “create” tools and build stuff. Again, that is pretty much it, really, with the MineCraft Wiki, FB Page, and YouTube giving you “hints”, which really are discoveries by other gamers. You quickly get the impression that you are more involved in an Art Project than a game, as it requires little of you fighting skill at night, leaving you to concentrate on your masterpiece in the daytime.

You can eventually team up with other players, but the communication interface is basic and text driven. Which few mind, as most gamers are solitary builders by nature, with a few engaged in group projects on some rather impressive masterpieces.

Building at day and hiding and fighting at night, which is eight (8) minutes away in game time. Reminds me of Leonardo Da Vinci and how he lived, after some of his experiments failed!

Its aimless fun can become quickly addictive, though, making it a great replacement for Solitaire on your Office computer. Just don’t get too drawn in, or you may look up in time to get a P45 Form scripted on that nice Pink Paper you always wanted from your boss!

So why is this Art Program a Social Gaming Cinderella?

Because since going beta in September 2010AD, the game has racked up an incredible EU$23 million (US$32.9 million) in revenue!

This based on comments that Founder and CEO Markkus “Notch” Persson have let drop on Reddit, when asked how much money he was making quote: “A lot. It all ends up in an account somewhere, and I try not to look at it. I get a normal salary these days for day to day stuff, but there’s a big pile somewhere. The game sold about 800,000 copies at 9.95 euro and then so far 1 million more at 14.95 euro. PayPal takes a cut, there are taxes, and such, but it’s still a huge wad of money.”

They have ways to go, as they are months away from releasing an iOS or Android app. And come November 2011AD, Markkus “Notch” Persson and his thus far efficient money-making MineCraft game will by then have moved out of beta to a full version, with future game bug fixes being free.

I hope that they remain a Social Game, possibly migrating to FaceBook, where PlayDom and Zynga are finding success. FaceBook, has a global based of nearly five hundred million (500,000,000) and counting members and the most second most trafficked website behind Goggle Search page.

More interestingly, they have a secure Platform replacement for online payments called FaceBook Credit that is the equivalent of the Console Gaming model, except much cheaper and Cloud-Based, with games playable in a browser.

More reason why my prognostications about Gaming going towards lower cost and relatively piracy-proof Cloud-based versions very soon appear more likely

This as the Console Gaming World is on its deathbed, if the statistics in my article Console Gaming’s Downfall – Future is up in the Clouds portend the Clouds of Doubt as to its future viability in the current form.

Perhaps an uptick in Consoles Sales will occur when the economy improves. But as is, for all its worth, Indie hit MineCraft is Social Gaming’s Cinderella. Best, too, before the Clock strikes Midnight later in 2011AD, when FaceBook will debut FaceBook Credit, forcing all to Pay-to-Play!!

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.