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Report article RSS Feed What Indie Developers Can Learn from Minecraft

We take a look at this phenomenon and ask what it means for our business, as well as that of other indie developers...

Posted by Mode7Games on Sep 28th, 2010


Like most indie devs, I'm a bit tired of hearing about Minecraft at the moment!  I thought I would collate my thoughts on it in order to put the issue to bed.

I'll be viewing everything through a commercial lens rather than focussing on the design, although in this case I think the two are almost symbiotic.

We've all seen the outrageous sales stats and conversion rate which dwarf almost anything out there.  You'd need to look to big MMO's like Runescape to find a comparable performance; here are some interesting benchmarks

This game is destroying commercial games with much bigger development budgets and much bigger marketing spends - why?  I've got six reasons...

1.  Unique
2.  Frictionless
3.  Demonstrable depth
4.  Easy to buy
5.  Creates viral material: stories, videos, cross-branding
6.  Tipping point

Here we go with the breakdown...

1.  Unique
Here are some things that I believe are unique to Minecraft:

  • Building system
  • Multiplayer building
  • Survival mode: enemies, dynamic terrain, day/night cycle...
  • Crafting system

That's practically the whole thing!

I'm sure you could come up with games which do one of those things in a slightly similar way, but I certainly haven't seen anything which combines them before.

Let's just accept for now that Minecraft is a very unique proposition;  I honestly believe that to achieve the same level of viral success, you'd have to come up with something equally remarkable.

This is why I don't think anyone should jump into indie game development: it's one field where the execution of a concept really does matter above almost everything else.  And it's incredibly crowded - hundreds and hundreds of indie games come out each year and there is only one Minecraft.

So, what can we learn from its design?  We need to be pursuing niches and innovating; giving gamers something they can't get from anything else.  Sounds a bit trite really, but Minecraft has just proved the validity of this. 

The trouble is that this is incredibly hard to accomplish: the only way to do it is to explore your own ideas and become accomplished and dedicated enough to execute them.

This is the best guide to that process I've ever read in any creative field.

I'm not denying, by the way, that it's possible to make money in the style of some social gaming compaines: targeting something that's already demonstrably successful, copying it and then marketing it heavily.  However, I believe most indie devs are trying to simply maximise the money they can make from their own creative output.

2. Frictionless
Friction is simply defined as a force which resists the playing of a game: it's a function of the number of things you have to do before you're allowed to start playing.

Minecraft has virtually no friction.

Here's how many steps it takes me to play Minecraft from the posting screen where I'm typing right now:

1.  Google Minecraft
2.  Click on the number one Google result
3.  Click "single player"

[Wait five seconds]

4.  Click in the window

That's actually about the same amount of effort required to launch a game I already own from Steam on my own computer (providing I don't already have Steam open)!

Once the game is running, there's no tutorial to sit through and I can immediately use the most conventional way of interacting with a 3D space: WASD and the mouse.

I try the left mouse button and I bash a hole in the terrain - that's fun.  I'm having fun faster than in almost any other game I can think of.  Now I try the right mouse button and I realise I can add blocks: a different kind of fun emerges.  The complexity of what I can do just with those two actions is now revealed to me.

Minecraft is the most frictionless game I know, even surpassing some very simple Flash games.  You don't have to enter your name, watch an advert, wait for a page to load: you're just playing straight away and your first actions are fun.

I have a theory that Wolfenstein and Doom were such massive hits at the time partially because moving around in those games is fun.  Go and play Doom now and scoot around a level and you'll see what I mean.

3.  Demonstrates depth
Here's the real Minecraft paradox and the reason it destroys simpler games in sales terms: all this outward simplicity is continually implying complexity.

What's the first thing you see on the Minecraft website?  A video of a rollercoaster made using the in-game building tools.  Immediately, you know that you can build almost anything you can imagine, including machines.

In fact, you probably encountered Minecraft through someone telling you a story about it, or showing you a video of some ridiculous baroque structure: you know it's incredibly complicated off the bat.

The Lego analogy is a great one: the boxes for Lego products always had brilliant huge constructions on them; the Lego TV adverts always showed over-the-top animated vehicles and complex buildings.  It was all about potential, but when you got your hands on it, all you wanted to do initially was just stick blocks together.

This factor of demonstrable depth works very well for things like MMO's - immediately, you'll see other characters with fancy equipment, or monsters you can't beat, or places you can't go straight away: the game is constantly shoving depth at you and saying, "Look at all this you can have if only you play longer / pay money."

4. Easy to buy

I found it initially very vexing that the Minecraft website is so terrible at upselling the paid version of the game.  It's REALLY hard to find a feature comparison list between the free and paid stuff: in fact, you have to go to the Minecraft wiki to do that.

Here's what the website itself says...

[Top graphic]

50% off during Alpha! Pre-purchase now.

[Main text]

Minecraft is a game about placing blocks while running from skeletons, or something like that.

[Links]

Minecraft Alpha [The latest!]: In browser | Download
Minecraft Classic [Free!]: Single player | Multi player

Initially, when I first went the Minecraft website, I didn't really read everything and clicked "In browser".  You're then presented with...

"You need to purchase the game to play infdev"

I had no idea what "infdev" is.  However, the general impression that there's more to be had as soon as you buy is definitely presented.

What's missing though, is the specifics.  Even the FAQ doesn't have them!

Someone wrote:Q: What do I get when I buy the game?
A: A flag gets set on your account on minecraft.net, allowing you to download the full game as many times you want, from any computer in the world. Note that nothing physical gets sent to you, the game is distributed digitally only.

To get any information on this, you have to click on the graphic in the top-left, and even this doesn't give the full picture.

Personally, I don't know if this has a positive or negative impact on upsell.  Usually, people are very keen to want to know exactly what they're getting when they buy something, but the actual purchase decision itself is made emotionally.  Maybe this factor actually works in Minecraft's favour?

I heard a talk by Jagex, the creators of Runescape, who said that many of their paid users bought a premium subscription despite having experienced hardly any of the content in the free version.  The upsell was just about them loving the game and abstractly wanting more.  I think this is certainly happening with Minecraft.

Now, it definitely helps that a lot of the information about the amazing Survival mode is out there in the public domain, and I'm not recommending anyone obfuscate the details of their paid version, but just why people want to buy your game is definitely something to bear in mind.  People want to own the experience and undergo it as fully as possible; they want to strip out all of the stuff around it and just get the full thing.  They often don't care about exactly which bullet points they are getting.

One final and very important detail before we move on: the buy button.

All of the time you're playing the free online version, there's a huge button that says BUY NOW at the top of your screen.  How many game demos have you ever seen where there is a button on the screen at all times allowing you to buy the game?

I'd say Minecraft's price of 9 euros is at the "nobody can argue with this" level: it's perfect for a potentially mass market product.  I don't think this price point is appropriate for all games by any means, but it certainly eases the doubt of exactly what you're getting when you buy Minecraft!

5.  Creates viral material
Back to design now for a second.

Here are some things Minecraft allows you to do:

1.  Create anything and show it off to people

Just today, I've seen two examples of art made with Minecraft that have been shared around on the internet.  One was in this Kotaku post, the other was this amazing video of the Starship Enterprise...

Having some kind of building system, or an ability to create machinima in your game makes for an unbelievable amount of viral content.  See also Garry's Mod.

2.  Tell stories

The game allows for Dwarf Fortress-like epic narratives, as Gabe of Penny Arcade and Quinns of RPS have demonstrated.

It's very hard to tell stories about certain genres of games, and if your game allows for this, it's a major advantage.   AAA games try to do this with linear experiences ("Oh, that bit where the lobster comes out of the cupboard?  Wow, that made me cry"); whereas generative games like Dwarf Fortress try to do it with the random combination of elements.

3.  Experience random chaos

I'd include Minecraft's hilarious multiplayer mode in this: again, the Garry's Mod comparision is there.  Also, this...

Random dramatic events that are easy for outsiders to understand?  Instant viral material.

6.  Tipping point
Finally, I don't think anything has demonstrated the tipping point as effectively as Minecraft.  There is a point which it is possible to reach with a good enough game that it will almost literally start selling itself.  Only a tiny, tiny percentage of all games will get there, but it is a good and noble target!

I always struggle with the tipping point as an idea: it seems to just be a huge elaboration on "success breeds success", and thus not particularly helpful.

I do think reaching that point has been helped by Notch's approach as well.  Although he hasn't been proactive at all with PR or marketing, he has been fairly responsive and has now hired a "business guy" to help him out with all of the necessary tasks required to maximise his success.  He does come across as a friendly, humble guy who is just trying to make a great game: thus he interviews well and people symapthise with him.  The simple, unpretentious website also smacks of a "good guy" indie creator, and I think this helps the purchase decision.

Nicholas Lovell makes a very good point about social proof which is linked to this.  Social proof is roughly summarised as this idea: "If a lot of people have bought something already then it must be good".  I'd read Cialdini's Influence if you have any interest in that idea - it's an essential book for anyone involved with selling anything.  Oh and while you're at Amazon, pick up Predictably Irrational as well.

Conclusions

If I were going to select three key factors behind Minecraft's success I would choose the following...

  • Frictionless
  • Extremely deep
  • Easy to buy

We've only recently seen the massive explosion of Minecraft media, so I think the "viral" quality I mentioned earlier is slightly less important than those top three.  I rate its depth as more important than the simplicity of its first few moments, simply because a promise of depth can motivate players through a difficult beginning (see Dwarf Fortress).  I even rate depth as more important than originality: it's what gets people talking.

I don't think everyone should try to aim for mass appeal titles like Minecraft, and I certainly don't think anyone will have any significant success with a clone. 

My point is that there are some aspects of it which should genuinely have an impact on developers, and some which have to simply be discounted as Minecraft Magic!  I'm certain Notch would attribute a lot of his success to luck, but luck only comes about when you are as good at executing great ideas as he is.

I hope indie devs will try to learn intelligently from Minecraft's success, rather than...

1.)  Assuming their next game will do as well
2.)  Copying its design
3.)  Pairing its business and pricing model with unsuitable titles
4.)  Being discouraged by it

It's great to see another indie doing so well; this only serves to make people more open to indie games and to buying them direct from developers.

What does it mean for Mode 7 Games and Frozen Synapse?  The kind of games we want to make are very different to Minecraft, and certainly will appeal to a smaller market...but that's ok - we want to stand out! 

We're going to stick to our guns and stick to the genre of games we're interested in.  At the moment, we're looking into ways of making sure that people get to hear about Frozen Synapse as much as possible. 

Having adopted a strategy of asking people to pay for the beta that has worked very well for us, we're not about to do a U-turn on that, but we're definitely thinking hard about how we will present the game after launch and try and get it out to the wider market.

Finally, I think Minecraft has vindicated our decision to try and make a deep, fuller indie game with a big single player and multiplayer component.  Having struggled a lot with that decision, we're now ready to lock the design of the single player and simply get on with building it - it's very exciting.  We hope people appreciate just how much content we're going to put into the game and hopefully success will follow next year when it comes out.

Post comment Comments
cupogoodness
cupogoodness Sep 29 2010, 1:31am says:

Excellent piece, thanks for sharing the perspective. It's always a treat to hear a developer touch on another dev's game and what can be learned, but it just doesn't happen enough.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 4:20am replied:

Thank you! I got half way through and thought, "Do people really need another Minecraft blog post", so I'm glad I finished now!

+1 vote     reply to comment
TheGameSquid
TheGameSquid Sep 29 2010, 9:57am replied:

Not to worry, everything you guys post is excellent per definition ;)

+1 vote     reply to comment
INtense!
INtense! Sep 29 2010, 2:09am says:

I think it is brilliant that Minecraft is doing so well, but at the same time it pains me that whilst one indie developer is setup for the rest of his life another 100 making equally as complex and possibly good games (ok not as viral) are in a daily battle to make ends meet.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 4:21am replied:

I think the only really negative thing that can happen is that people assume that all indie games are as successful (or have the potential to be) and stop supporting them. There's no way we'd ever have got Frozen Synapse off the ground without our current community and key members of the gaming press getting behind us; it's important to support indie games you care about.

+2 votes     reply to comment
TheGameSquid
TheGameSquid Sep 29 2010, 10:03am replied:

Yeah, that sort of bothers me too. I have friends who know next to nothing about indie games, yet they can't stop talking about how much cash Minecraft is making. It wouldn't surprise me if they thought going indie is the way to stardom.

+1 vote     reply to comment
vfn4i83
vfn4i83 Sep 29 2010, 2:16am says:

Hey great analysis and good points; I've been discussing with my brother few days back about the easiness to get the game going as a factor of success.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 4:22am replied:

Yeah, if you have an amazing game like this then getting people playing and talking about it is the most important thing. Got to make the amazing game first though!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 4:27am says:

One point I forgot to add - if you have a game which allows buildling or machinima, it actually allows for a kind of happy copyright-breaching cross-branding by fans.

Say someone's never heard of Minecraft but they're a massive Star Trek fan? They'll probably come across that Enterprise video - they'll see it on a blog or someone will send it to them. Bingo, you've just tapped into the fan base of a massive existing property because of something one of your fans did; you didn't even have to lift a finger.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Jakkar
Jakkar Sep 29 2010, 5:12am buried:

(buried)

Nothing. Let's be frank, he took someone else's simple, obvious idea, crudely cartooned it to life, ignored it for over a year, then ****** up repeatedly. It's fun because of the player's imagination. The minimal design and development Notch has put into the game generally only gets in the way of that fun.

-5 votes     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 6:00am replied:

Hah, I haven't seen much anti-Minecraft backlash yet - you're definitely in early with that! This is another inevitable consequence of something becoming successful.

+4 votes     reply to comment
Henley
Henley Sep 29 2010, 7:09am replied:

As far as I am aware Notch was apart of the Wurm team so I am not sure how its a stolen idea, maybe it differed on the direction I don't see how its a bad thing.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Zlyer
Zlyer Sep 29 2010, 9:15am replied:

I think @Jakkar refers to Zachtronicsindustries.com and not Wurm, but I'm not really sure.

+1 vote     reply to comment
boredgamer
boredgamer Sep 29 2010, 11:38am replied:

Notch has said several times that his game was inspired by infiminer, so there's no speculation here.

+1 vote     reply to comment
PhyOS
PhyOS Oct 9 2010, 9:44am replied:

If you go to one of his first Minecraft videos, Notch says in the description "This is test video of a clone of Infinimer I'm working on".

+1 vote     reply to comment
zoombapup
zoombapup Sep 29 2010, 7:22am says:

I remember playing blockland back in 2004 and hearing how amazingly popular it was. The concept and tone of blockland and minecraft are very similar.

Its basically just a good idea, plain and simple. The fact that someone has had a huge success is great. Although its starting to grate (its become a fashion statement to love/talk about minecraft) and inevitably something really popular will become really unpopular with a large bunch of people.

I agree with all the points mentioned. It is an example of a "hit" in a hit based entertainment medium, but the number of hits versus missus is huge.

Of course those of us working on games where we dont really foresee mass appeal are in a bit of a sticky position if people start equating this level of success with "indie". But unrealistic expectations are part and parcel of the general public, so I expect that's going to become the case.

My own expectations and wishes for my games are very similar to yours I guess. Hope they become successful with a big enough niche that I can sustain development and live a creative life. Connect with the players of the games in a way that fosters mutual support and don't get delusional with the potential for any game.

Interestingly enough, I've been playing some older PC games from back in 1994-2002 ish era and theyre just so fantastically rich, if not quite so well executed. Modern platforms are really opening up a lot of opportunities. Hope to see a resurgence of PC gaming and depth.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 7:49am says:

Yep, indie games are definitely a hit-driven business.

I think it's important not to overestimate OR underestimate the reach of your game - I personally don't think indie games generally hit even a significant percentage of their potential market just simply due to lack of awareness. There are some really great games which people love, but for some reason don't share with their friends and which don't have any marketing money behind them.

Yep, the 1994-2002 era of PC gaming is probably the biggest influence on us and the style of games we want to make as well. I do think we will see a resurgence of deeper games, as there are so many free small games out there - people will demand more from their games and developers will need to add complexity and depth to stand out. I think the lesson from Minecraft is to wrap that depth in an accessible shell.

I think I remember hearing about Blockland at the time. I just downloaded and played the demo. It's REALLY eye opening. If you want to see the difference that friction and UI can make to your experience of a game, play it and contrast it with Minecraft. The building interface is absolutely ridiculous in comparison.

+1 vote     reply to comment
theM3nace
theM3nace Sep 29 2010, 8:00am says:

Minecraft combines all the things boys want.
Building
Smashing
Adventure
and showing off
That's why I love it so much!

+2 votes     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 9:31am replied:

Brilliant!

+1 vote     reply to comment
zoombapup
zoombapup Sep 29 2010, 9:03am says:

Have a look at the video's that people have made with blockland and minecraft. Its quite interesting how similar the gameplay tends to be. The guy who wrote blockland went in some fairly random directions (I met him out at IGC in the states, back when you guys were doing determinance), he had a few games that had really nice design ideas too.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 9:31am replied:

I think Blockland represents a total misunderstanding of how to execute this idea. It's so tough to get to the fun part!

+1 vote     reply to comment
zoombapup
zoombapup Sep 29 2010, 9:48am says:

I dunno, there are TWO versions of blockland if I recall. The "PRO" version is actually a lot more accessable. The free version doesnt really have a GUI.

All written with Torque too.

+1 vote     reply to comment
xXMaNiAcXx
xXMaNiAcXx Sep 29 2010, 11:36am says:

There's no why for you to say "I'm a bit tired of hearing about Minecraft at the moment!"

Your game is completely different from that, yeah, people sometimes irritate EVERYBODY, not only other indie developers, but stay cool, you won't loose players to that game, as if someone asked me to recommend 2 indies, yours would be the first.
*whispers* then minecraft hehehehe
Messing with ya :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 1:58pm replied:

Ha! I'm not worried about "losing players" to Minecraft - I actually don't see most indies as competition, really. Indie success is generally good for everyone.

I was only tired of hearing about it because I think we've reached saturation point with Minecraft stuff. That's why I chose to post now - you'll see Minecraft coverage start tailing off in the next two months. I'm sure it'll go on selling though!

+1 vote     reply to comment
xXMaNiAcXx
xXMaNiAcXx Sep 29 2010, 9:33pm replied:

^^
Yeah, I agree with what you say, btw, another curious thing, everybody says that now, games that have blocks are MINECRAFT's RIPOFFS, but isn't Minecraft a rip off?

+1 vote     reply to comment
eternalsyndrome
eternalsyndrome Sep 29 2010, 1:18pm says:

Great assessment, I shared my thoughts on this at indie gamer forums and I have to say this is the most succinct examination I've seen thus far.

I do hope we indies can celebrate peer success stories like these and learn from them in the right way (including AAA that spend up to 100 million trying to do the same) as there is a lot of room for wrong reaction and interpretation without a carefully thought out commentary such as this. Good job!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 1:59pm replied:

Thanks very much - I appreciate that. Yeah, I think we should all appreciate what Notch has done and try to see what we can learn from him rather than feeling jealous or trying to dismiss his game.

+1 vote     reply to comment
MirzaGhalib
MirzaGhalib Sep 29 2010, 1:41pm says:

Wonderful post. I've heard of Minecraft before, but your delve into its success has for the first time piqued my curiosity.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 2:00pm replied:

Heh - more examples of Minecraft's viral spread happening LIVE before our very eyes!

+2 votes     reply to comment
CanadianWolverine
CanadianWolverine Sep 29 2010, 3:37pm replied:

I read through your insightful post from a re-tweet (IIRC what they are called) from Notch, whose twitters/blog posts I have been following because I want to know if he has put more creatures/mosnters in yet to kill my miner and also because I love his open and frank discussion of his development process. I now have awareness of your Frozen Synapse game I didn't have before, despite it apparently getting a mention by Penny Arcade. After watching the teaser videos, I grasp this is a game I very much want to be a part of after memories of Shadowrun (P&P), X-COM, and planning missions for Rainbow Six and also because of the level of excitement those very detailed little men running around in the explosions were imparting to me. I need to go check out the price now and weigh it against my family's budget for entertainment... My apologies if this is off topic, I just thought it would be nice to relate you now have another potential customer thanks to this insightful post into why Minecraft, even as a Alpha version, works for the world wide audience of those who might consider themselves gamers, particularly PC in this case. If only Dwarf Fortress was easier to get into, I know I would do more than just read other people's awesome stories, view the awesome comics, and dispatch tileset parties of dwarves to die without me ever issuing a decent order/thought for them to strike the earth. In Minecraft, I click and hold one button and I strike the earth ... and it is very satisfying, even exciting when I go spelunking in vast cave systems and ranging across the seas, hills, and mountains with monsters looking to send me back to the starting point at every turn. And that's before I even start mining operations hollowing out one of those mountains and crafting a tower and roads to guide me to safety... Sorry, I am rambling even further now. Peace and happy hunting in all your games. :)

+2 votes     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 29 2010, 6:55pm replied:

Thanks!

+1 vote     reply to comment
aerozol
aerozol Sep 29 2010, 9:04pm says:

Hmm definitely a different selling mechanic, you guys are aimed at a totally different audience. AS different as it gets I'd say... The 'easy to play' and is a great puller though. If you guys could get a version of your game running in browser, or on fb, I'm sure you could achieve the same thing, if you want to run that gauntlet.
But to get the kind of player generated content that pulls in people on this viral scale, we're talking a different game sadly

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 30 2010, 3:44am replied:

Yep, FS and Minecraft are as different as they come.

We're thinking more about player-generated content for our next game, but FS was always about trying to keep things lean and mean.

Again, I don't think everyone should try to design or sell their games in the same way.

You're right, it would be great if we could come up with a way for anyone to try FS easily, and we're talking about that a lot at the moment. The right time for that is post-launch - there are a few things in the works which mean we should reach a much bigger audience.

There are still enough people pre-ordering based on the strength of its reputation and the info that's already out there to keep development running smoothly.

Actually keeping the community based around people who have invested in your game and really deeply care about it is fairly important for newer developers, I think, otherwise you can be obliterated by a torrent of opinions and feedback.

+1 vote     reply to comment
wazanator
wazanator Sep 29 2010, 11:57pm says:

I think the reason minecraft and other sandbox like games (gmod, block land, etc) is because thats the kinds of games people want to play right now. I see it mostly as a trend, remember about 9 years back when Runescape and other free/cheap mmos were very popular? Same thing with minecraft/blockland/gmod.

IMO if you want to take advantage of this trend you should look into combining the sandbox style gameplay with another game play style.

Example: A rts game where the player can design the units and structures (with limitations of course) either in real time

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Sep 30 2010, 3:45am replied:

Yeah very interesting idea, actually. I do agree with you that this sort of game is trendy in the "current age" of gaming - I think Garry's Mod, LBP and Minecraft all have something in common.

+1 vote     reply to comment
CanadianWolverine
CanadianWolverine Sep 30 2010, 3:51pm replied:

Maybe I am just old or something, but this doesn't feel so much like a trend but a gradual climb building on the success of past games because I remember things like SimCity (1989), Railroad Tycoon (1990), Star Control 2 (1992), etc. Maybe how people are defining what a sand box game is changing because of new options the varying games have been offering us over the years, but if there is any trend of the current age it is big development studios going console at their publisher's urgings and that is creating a void Indy developers are gladly filling for the PC market as acceptance of digital markets and distribution due to services like Steam, Impulse, and GOG. As long as customers don't have any wide spread issues with using debit/credit online to support their favourite sources of entertainment, things will only hopefully get better for Indy Devs and their patrons who enjoy their products and services, especially since their prices are so competitive in comparison to the so called AAA titles.

+2 votes     reply to comment
eternalsyndrome
eternalsyndrome Oct 3 2010, 5:05am says:

Bit late in the game I know but I though it was also important to point out for any reading late in the game that the freemium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freemium) model plays a BIG part in the success of this game too.

A free version lowers friction and allows players to invest time into it making conversion easier by the commitment already put in and the higher player volume alone (normally you only have to convert 1-10%).

It works for Google, it works for Runescape, it works for iphone apps and it worked for this (and many other products / services) game too ;)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mattressi
Mattressi Oct 3 2010, 1:08pm says:

I think you could learn from this; lower the price of your game! I bought Minecraft because it cost me about $13; yours costs $25. It's a great idea to give people a second copy for a friend, but $25 is still a big ask for what really is just another obscure indie title (no offense intended). No demo means I don't know if I'll like it, and there's nothing to get me hooked and make me want more. I think I would like it, but I'm not going to spend $25 to see if I do, especially when there are other games out there that have demos and are cheaper - they are more likely to make me want to spend my limited money. So, my suggestions to you; make the beta open, but limited for non-paying players (and unlimited for those who've bought the game of course), and drop the price to a more accessible point. I could buy a 2-year old AAA title for $25; the reason I buy indie isn't just because of the originality, it's also because I'm a cheapskate! :P

+1 vote     reply to comment
mrpeabody
mrpeabody Oct 3 2010, 2:29pm says:

There's another part of the Minecraft Message that people hear when they start to learn about the game: Minecraft is constantly improving. Every game forum "Why Minecraft Is Awesome" thread lists Notch's commitment to updates and rapid release cycle as key reasons to try it. Not only is this game fun right now, they say, but it's getting better all the time and here's a bunch of the new features that are just ahead.

I think that also makes the purchase price seem more reasonable. It's like buying a Valve multiplayer title: You have confidence you're getting a lot more stuff than what's in the box.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Mode7Games
Mode7Games Oct 4 2010, 5:15am replied:

Definitely. I didn't list this as a factor because there are many indie games which consistently update, and I didn't see it as being as significant as the other things I mention. But you're right, it does make a difference to people, especially after they've bought the game when they're evangelising about it.

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minecraft333
minecraft333 Jul 14 2013, 3:36pm says:

Yep, Minecraft`s the best :)

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