A single man created the most successful game in the world

Leksand extended the winning streak beat AIK

Anyone who started Minecraft before 2019 should still be familiar with the name Notch. Notch is the Swede who single-handedly made Minecraft. Hardly anyone now speaks of the developer, in Minecraft itself there is only one reference to him. What is Notch doing today?

This man created Minecraft: Markus Alexej “Notch” Persson is a developer from Sweden who released the first version of Minecraft in March 2009 – at that time still in the form of a private alpha that only invited testers were allowed to play.

Persson is said to have played and learned to program his first video games on his father’s Commodore 128 at the age of 7 or 8 (via gamedeveloper.com; meanwhile unavailable).

According to his own statements, he got his first job as a game developer around 2005, at that time at King.com (via YouTube). The site is best known for browser games, which are usually only played on the side. The studio’s biggest hit is Candy Crush. Today King belongs to Activision Blizzard.

Minecraft is hugely popular. A trailer for the game even has over 160 million views:

A trailer for Minecraft has 160 million views: “This is not a trailer for a game, this is for a generation”

Notch doesn’t want to be CEO, sells Minecraft for $2.5 billion

The launch of Minecraft: Minecraft started out as a one-man project called RubyDung, and Persson never expected it to be a huge success. At least that wasn’t the plan. He created Minecraft in his spare time as a hobby.

In May 2009, Persson offered his project via an IRC channel and improved the game based on testers’ feedback. In 2010 and after enough sales, the Swede finally left his job and developed Minecraft full-time.

Minecraft was successful too quickly: As the French website jeuxvideo reports, PayPal froze Presson’s account in September 2010 when he suddenly had 600,000 euros to show. He had to justify that all of this is from Minecraft. The game cost 15 euros per copy at the time and sold over 1 million shortly thereafter.

To support his project, Persson eventually founded Mojang, which is still responsible for Minecraft today but is owned by Microsoft. Minecraft finally appeared as a full version in November 2011 and has since become the most successful video game of all time.

With over 238 million copies sold, Minecraft is way ahead (via Xbox.com), followed by the already beaten GTA 5 with 170 million copies (via GamesIndustry.biz). The ancient game Tetris from the Soviet Union, developed in 1984, is said to have sold over 500 million units, but developers have changed so often and versions have been changed that the number cannot be reliably traced.

By the way, one of the inspirations of Minecraft was reportedly Dwarf Fortress. The simulation with dwarves recently appeared on Steam and made the developers millionaires after 20 years. Here the trailer:

Dwarf Fortress on Steam Announcement Teaser

How did Minecraft come to Microsoft? In 2014, Persson stated that he no longer wanted to run Mojang. In a post on his website, he wrote: “I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy developer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.” (via Archive.org)

A few months earlier, he offered Mojang for sale – with a tweet. Several large companies are said to have applied for the strange offer, including Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Microsoft.

Microsoft finally got the bid for a whopping 2.5 billion US dollars. The deal is still considered one of the largest in video game history and made Persson a billionaire straight away.

By the way, Microsoft and Mojang make quite active use of the Minecraft IP. A new game is scheduled to appear in the universe in 2023: the strategy game Minecraft Legends, which has already convinced me. Here the trailer:

Minecraft Legends new trailer from gamescom 2022

Controversial opinions on Twitter shoot Notch out

Here’s how it went with Persson: Persson has previously supported charities such as Doctors Without Borders and the Humble Indie Bundle with Mojang, for which the studio developed a game. This raked in over $450,000 at the time (via Eurogamer). After that he withdrew Persson but from the development.

In his farewell speech, Persson explained that he doesn’t see himself as a game developer and hasn’t created a significant game since Minecraft. Persson purchased a Los Angeles mansion for $70 million in 2015.

Shortly after, there were reports that the billionaire was unhappy. However, he refuted this by saying that he had just had a bad day and vented it. Later, however, his tweets became significantly stranger.

Where is the controversy coming from? In the years following his split from Mojang, Notch has been very active on Twitter. After all, it’s something he enjoys doing, as he himself said in his farewell to Minecraft. After all, he still has a proud 3.6 million followers in January 2023.

However, he drew attention to himself with controversial statements. Statements like, “It’s okay to be white,” “Most people who claim to be feminists are just overly sexist against men,” or calls for a “hetero Pride Day” (via TheMarySue ).

There were also statements about conspiracy theories about “Pizzagate” and QAnon (via DenOfGeek). He also allegedly said trans women weren’t women and equated transsexuality with a mental illness (via Variety).

A dispute with another user on Twitter, which lasted for quite a while and which was apparently about transsexuality, was particularly spicy.

As a result of the debates, Notch was excluded from the Minecraft 10th Anniversary Celebration. But Microsoft went one step further.

Minecraft deletes (almost) all references to Notch

Until 2019, all versions of Minecraft still contained a reference to the original creator. Until then, the phrase “Made by Notch!” or “The Work of Notch!” was always found directly in the “Splash” when the game was started.

However, these were completely removed after the controversy on Twitter. There is only a reference to the creator of Minecraft in the credits. However, Microsoft has never commented on the step.

Persson himself launched a counterattack in 2021. After a Minecraft crossover event with Sonic, the creator declared the game dead: “I don’t speak ill of the dead, but yeah, Minecraft is a little dead. (If it’s alive for you, cool! Rocket Arena 3 lives for Me too.)” (via Twitter)

“I might play a game”

Here’s what Notch does today: After temporarily deleting his Twitter account in 2020, Notch has since become quite active on the platform again. Almost every day he posts something about video games or talks about all sorts of topics. Lastly, with some pretty bad puns for Christmas:

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Most of the time, however, it is about games that he is currently playing and that inspires him or about any situations that he has experienced. On Jan. 1, he drew attention to himself with a statement that he might be able to work on a game again.

It remains to be seen whether that really happened or whether he only said it as a joke. Because he’s been bringing the same joke with a similar tweet for years. Notch’s last game is Cliffhorse, which was released in 2014. Nothing is known of any new projects since then – although after the deal with Microsoft he would probably never have to work again with his wife and children.

Microsoft, meanwhile, wants to continue to grow. The historic deal with Notch was only the beginning, if anything. Next on the company’s wish list is Activision Blizzard – which includes Persson’s first employer in gaming, King:

Microsoft announces they want to buy Activision Blizzard