Minecraft is big.
The game has sold more than 33 million copies across three platforms at $27 a pop. That’s making it’s developer Mark Pinkus, aka Notch, upwards of $100,000 a day.
The game features open world creativity to the max. There is an achievement system for progressing to a place called The End and fighting a dragon, but most players simply build. The world is made up of blocks, and has a couple hundred different ones to chose from.
All this with a simple game coded in Java by a few guys who had almost no idea what they were doing.
So how does Minecraft make money?
The game’s website has a link to purchase the game, as well as a ton of branded merchandise stemming from the prolific success of the game. The merchandise makes quite a bit of money, selling t-shirts, sweaters, and even Lego sets mostly to the game’s younger male players ages 10-15, but the bulk of the revenue comes from sales of the game itself.
The site features a nifty tool that tracks sales. As of this posting, in the last 24 hours the game has sold 7480 new copies. That’s roughly $200,000 in one day.
But how!? How can a game sell so much?
It’s all in the game itself.
Minecraft is fun, plain and simple. The game is an inherently social experience. You strive and build and survive against monsters who want to kill you, you laugh with your friends when your stuff gets blown up, you can do literally anything that your imagination can dream up within the confines of the game world, and that makes for a great and memorable experience.
The developers are also always pushing out new updates, constantly keeping the game relevant. The game has gone through 11 major revisions since its official release in November 2011. That’s an average of one major game-changing update every couple months.
What this does is generate a ton of conversation about the game within the community. People post YouTube videos about the new stuff, like the one below, and as you can see they get really creative. Skip to 3:10 for a showdown:
To sum up, Minecraft makes money because people really, really like it. Notch made something that’s really fun and people love to share it. The best strategy to making money from something digital is to have something that people really like and want, that allows them to express themselves and share it with other people who share similar interests. That’s what Minecraft does.