Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Minecraft: Did Mojang Unethically Starve its Cash Cow?

Hehe no I don't think so... We're still only two developers on the PC version of Minecraft [link]
Notch recently blogged that "we’re 12 people in the office", so the two people working on the PC version of Minecraft represent just 16 percent of Mojang's staff that is advancing Minecraft.

As I wrote in Minecraft: Is Notch crazy? Mojang should hire more developers for Minecraft, and particularly, QA staff.

At what point does the lack of resources that Mojang has devoted to Minecraft become an indication of mismanagement? If purchasers of alpha and beta versions were willing to help fund the development of Minecraft, how much cash must roll in before it becomes unethical and immoral to have hired only a single addition developer to work on the game?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Minecraft: Is Notch crazy?

Obviously he's not completely crazy, but lately Notch has made a number of strategic decisions that call his judgment into question.

1. Lawyers. Really?

In his blog Update on the “Scrolls” lawsuit, Notch says that:
Lawyers have been sending papers back and forth, threatening each other with deadlines and court dates.

He's pissing money away and wasting his time fighting with Bethesda over the name of a game that's a long way from release? Spending money on this is a horrendous waste, just change the name of the game and be done with it.

Below I'll argue that Mojang shouldn't even be making the game, never mind getting embroiled in a legal dispute over its name.

2. Selling out with an Xbox 360 exclusive.

As I said in Mojang is no longer an indie developer, in selling out by entering into an agreement with Microsoft for Minecraft to appear exclusively on Xbox 360, Notch gave up his freedom and accepted PR guidelines that control what he is "allowed to say."

What I didn't discuss is the effect of Notch's decision on gamers. Microsoft paid a lot of money to Mojang so that PS3 and Wii owners won't be able to play Minecraft on their consoles.

Prior to this deal, Mojang had been very responsive to gamers. But when faced with choosing between Microsoft's money and gamers owning PS3s or Wiis, Notch chose to take the money and thus disempower owners of the other consoles.

(I play Minecraft on PC under Linux. I'm not a console owner and don't care for them, but I don't like exclusive deals since they enrich the partners by disempowering certain groups of potential customers.)

3. MineCon: The Stake in the ground.

MineCon was set up to celebrate the official release of Minecraft on November 18, 2011. The date of release was a completely arbitrary choice on Notch's part. Given that Mojang already has great cash flow without having "officially" released the game, I don't see the advantage to declaring an official release date and putting artificially created deadline pressure on Minecraft's development.

4. Dance with the one that brung you.

Why do another game (Scrolls) at all when Minecraft still isn't finished, and is a now infamous cash cow? Scrolls dilutes Mojang's resources and takes attention away from Minecraft, which could use developer resources beyond what Mojang has assigned.

The Minecraft project would benefit from a few more developers, and particularly, dedicated QA staff.

Minecraft got Notch and Mojang to this point, and it's not yet in the kind of shape that it's appropriate to shift focus away to another project.