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Striking Gold

September 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Minecraft is a damned odd game. It’s being made by one (veteran) developer. It has no art assets to speak of, because the thing is more blocky and 8-bit than any other 3D game I can think of, including, say, Runequest. There is no narrative, no goal, and no quests.

But it’s making money hand-over-fist. Six digits per day. For an alpha version. I attribute a lot of this to a nearly perfect storm of publicity and accidents. This is such a different game, that some important people are taking notice. The ones I heard about it through were the guys at Penny Arcade, who found the game hard to put down.

But it’s also gotten some inadvertent attention from disasters. As the article points out, the first was when PayPal shut down the developer’s account with hundreds of thousands of Euros in it because of “suspcious” behavior.

The clincher, though, came last week when the game got enough paying customers that it brought down the authentication server. What with the recent publicity stunt by GOG.com of faking their own demise, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was “accidentally on purpose”, since the developer made no effort to try and prop up the faulty registration system, perhaps out of his own faith in the goodness of men.

No, he left the authentication server down and declared it an inadvertent free demo of the game until a new one could be erected. Interestingly, it worked. Not only is the post-server-debacle spike in sales attributed to it, I have to admit it snared me. I picked up the game and tried it.

Half because I was curious about the game, and half because I was curious if it was cross-platform. Sure enough, the whole game fits in a Java JAR that you download and run on Linux, no installation or hassle required.

I’m still not sure quite what to make of the game. I don’t understand how the game will have staying power, but I also want to keep playing just a bit more….

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