It was confirmed today that Microsoft has acquired Mojang AB, the Swedish company behind the hit game Minecraft, for $2.5 billion. Seems like a cause for celebration, especially for Markus Persson, the 35-year-old creator and majority shareholder known in the gaming world as “Notch,” right?
Not so much. He seems relieved, but perhaps also feels a bit hypocritical. Minecraft got too big for him to handle. More than anything else, he hated the hatred he experienced as the game grew. He took it very personally, it seems.
In June, he tweeted this:
Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life? Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.
— Markus Persson (@notch) June 17, 2014
“I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter,” he said in a post today, offering an explanation, and in many ways an excuse, for why he had to sell.
“This is Phil Fish,” an excellent YouTube video about the outspoken Fez creator, seems to have had a profound effect on him. The video explains why Phil Fish is so hated by so many, in some ways similar to the way Nickelback is despised by the public. The hatred isn’t derived from the fact that they’re bad. There’s plenty of bad music. People don’t actually even hate Nickelback. They hate that Nickelback is famous. Notch wanted to get out before it ever went that far.
Looking back at Notch’s blog posts from the past year, you have to wonder if he feels like he’s eating his own words right now. In March, he authored a post titled “Virtual reality is going to change the world,” in which he praised Oculus Rift for radically advancing VR, discussed his trip to their offices and all of the possibilities he dreamed up, including some sort of partnership with Minecraft, then went on to blast them for selling to Facebook.
“Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers … Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me,” he wrote.
At the end he congratulated both Facebook and the Oculus team on the acquisition, but added “this is where we part ways,” making it clear that he no longer had any intention of working with them on offering Minecraft to Oculus users.
How would you feel if you harshly criticized your peers for accepting $2 billion from Facebook, basically calling them sellouts, then less than four months later sold your company for $2.5 billion to Microsoft?
Maybe like a little bit of a sellout yourself… Maybe a little bit hypocritical…
Here’s Notch’s full post, “I’m leaving Mojang.”