The life of Mojang has been a charmed existence. You will be hard-pressed to find a better example of simplicity and momentum taking a company as far as Mojang has gone. If one should feel the need to quantify this epic rise to cultural and financial juggernaut, just last week it was revealed that Markus Persson and company raked in a cool $237.4 Million in revenue throughout 2012.
Partly what makes this such an interesting story is the fact that Mojang has done almost everything right. Where many independent games come with a history that includes barely making ends meet and struggling to create interest and investment in their baby, Mojang has let a simple idea and some quick thinking take them all the way to the promised land.
Even the origins were ideal. Markus and his two cofounders Jakob Porser and Carl Manneh decided to start the company after a paid trip and employment offer from Valve left them wanting to take their chances as an independent. So instead of working for one of the best private companies in the world, they decided to make their own. And in only 2 years they accomplished their goal in impressive fashion.
With around 15 million units of Minecraft sold in 2012 alone, Mojang is at a point where many game companies and publishers are chomping at the bit to get in on the action. The 25 person team has turned down several acquisition bids and has absolutely no plans to go public. In a recent interview with Reuters, Markus discussed this interest by saying ” We are living the dream, really. An exit would be huge, but do we really need that money? We have more money than we need…We’ve always felt that the independence we have is one of our core strengths. We can take decisions by going into a room and in 15 minutes we’re done. We try to be extremely agile, to release games quickly.”
This is truly great to hear in an industry where the current thinking is that bigger is better and large-scale, annualized games are the only way to increase profits and keep shareholders happy. The reason why Valve has been such a success is that they have ignored the sirens call and stayed private, keeping their autonomy, while staying lean and efficient, despite their huge growth. I am sure the small Swedish developer was taking notes….probably during their recruiting visit.
With two promising titles on the horizon, the space sandbox shooter 0x10c and the collectible card game, Scrolls, Mojang is hoping that their development philosophy of innovation, fun and passion will continue to fuel the rise of one of the greatest success stories in recent memory. Mojang is at a vital point in its life-cycle and needs to tread carefully in order to keep this amazing momentum going. But things are looking very good at this point.
Although it can be a difficult environment when it comes to finding money and creating a game without the help of big companies who are driven by quarterly profits, Mojang has proven that even the simplest of ideas can completely change the way our industry works. If there is a company that can stay true to their core ideals and keep building on its success in an intelligent manner, it is definitely Mojang.
What implications does Minecraft’s huge popularity have for the game industry? Do you think this will change how other companies approach game making in the future?