For a just-launched block-building PC game, Minecraft has generated a lot of money in its short lifespan: $80 million USD (540m Swedish krona). Technically the game has been available since October 2010, but the final "retail" product didn't go live until November 2011. Still, $80 million is impressive for a first title from a small developer consisting of only 25 employees, and no publisher in sight.
According to Financial Times, Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson is not only the co-founder, but the largest shareholder in Mojang. His earnings are dumped into a separate company, but he reportedly decided to share his $3.7 million with the rest of the company, divided out equally. Much of that $80 million was earned before Minecraft was ported over to mobile phones (and soon the Xbox 360).
Despite a lack of a console port, the game reportedly didn't really take off until younger gamers discovered the indy title, attracted to it's Lego-like mechanics. Up until then, the core Minecraft audience was the hardcore PC gamer crowd in their 20s and 30s.
"The core mechanic is very similar to Lego – the simplicity of placing and removing blocks and you can do whatever your imagination tells you to do," said Mojang chief executive Carl Manneh. "That’s the strength. The side effect is that when you build something, you have the urge to show it off to someone."
Outside the actual game sales, Mojang is likely picking up a few extra bucks thanks to merchandising. Just recently the studio revealed a project with Lego that will bring Minecraft-themed sets to the market. Fans can also purchase shirts, socks, wallets, scarfs -- you name it, it's probably out there. It wouldn't be surprising to see Minecraft figurines on store shelves in the near future including creepers, zombies, chickens all the other blocky Minecraft creatures.
"We’ve been approached by a number of high-profile Hollywood producers and asked to do TV shows," Manneh said. "We may do that. It’s hard when you don’t have any experience and someone comes to throw these ideas around. We have so much to focus on with just the game development and growing the business. But if the right idea comes along and the right people that we’d want to work with, we’d say why not?"
Minecraft for the Xbox 360 is slated to land on Microsoft's network on May 9. Minecraft Pocket Edition for Android and iOS just received an update which finally added the Survival mode, an optional control scheme, better flying controls and pigs. So far 25,022,414 people have registered and 5,368,466 people bought the PC version. Over one million "copies" of Pocket Edition has been sold thus far, making it Google Play's most world-wide downloaded app.