Today, the idea of Minecraft creator Markus Persson walking away from the fortunes of running his software studio Mojang seems completely crazy. In September of 2010, however, the man known as Notch had to make a huge decision: continue pushing forward with developing the still-finding-its-place-in-the-world project known as Minecraft as a small two-person studio, or take a job offer from one of the biggest game development houses around.
This is part of the tale told in an excerpt posted on All Things D from Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus ‘Notch’ Persson and the Game that Changed Everything, a book by Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson chronicling the incredible rise of the open-world survival-crafting adventure.
Persson had long been a fan of Valve and their games, so there was no doubt an overflowing amount of glee in his heart when the opposite also became true.
Soon Minecraft caught the attention of Markus’s own heroes. Brandon Reinhart, a programmer who worked on Markus’s favorite game, Team Fortress 2, wrote on the game’s blog that the next version of the game would probably be late. The development team had developed a deep and serious Minecraft addiction, he explained. “Yes, you should play this game,” he wrote, adding a link to Markus’s website. Sales more than doubled overnight.
As exciting as that may have been for Persson (and his partner Jakob Porsér), another communication from the folks in Bellevue would send far bigger ripples through the Swede’s life. One day in August 2010, Persson received a call from a representative at Valve, asking if he’d be up for flying over to meet the team in Washington for “a cup of coffee”. Of course, Persson was sure more would be going on than just that.
Markus surmised that the person on the phone was probably not interested in just a cup of coffee. He intuited two possibilities behind the polite invitation: Valve was either interested in buying Minecraft, or Valve was going to offer Markus a job. It’s not unheard of for established game developers to take on successful indie projects, and it was possible that Valve had decided to now try to do with Minecraft what they’d done with Portal a few years earlier. But the American wouldn’t say more than that Valve was impressed by Minecraft and would like to meet Markus and get to know him.
Persson and the Valve rep hashed out the details, settling on a time during the next month for the meeting to occur. When it did, Persson’s suspicions proved true: the house that Gabe Newell c0-built were interested in his talents, his ideas, and in helping him hone his skills more towards working with a large development team (versus a 1~2 man indie studio).
We all know how the story ends: Persson politely turned them down, and told Porsér that he wanted the two of them to continue pushing Minecraft forward on their own. They did, and in doing so, created one of the biggest gaming phenomenons of the last ten years.
For more of the fascinating looking into the birth and life of Minecraft, hit the link below to read the full except over on All Things D, or pick up your own copy of Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus ‘Notch’ Persson and the Game that Changed Everything.