What is Minecraft? Minecraft is a game of unleashing your creativity. It is about exploration. It is about survival. It is about curiosity. It is about standing on top of your own tower of glass and feeling the accomplishment. With no narrative and minimal graphics Minecraft challenges you to fill in the empty space.
This is not a review of Minecraft, we rarely do reviews of games. What we do is to analyze the game, the lore, the success, and the formula behind what makes the game move. For a review, well you really don't need a review. Head to their website and just play the free version of the game!
Minecraft was created by Markus Persson (also known as Notch) and is currently being developed by his company Mojang. It is seen as one of the resounding success stories of an indie developer. The development of Minecraft and how it transformed from a lone developer to a successful indie company is a story that should be understood and studied.
Lacking marketing budgets, how does one transform and push a game product such as Minecraft? The success of Minecraft boils down to 2 things. The community, and the ability for the community to express themselves.
When I tried playing Minecraft, I just spent the first 2 hours building my own castle. It was my personal project. To build a castle at the side of a cliff overlooking the sea. No one gave me the idea, no one asked me to do it. It was by my own motivation and ambition that I tried to do that. It is this freedom that enabled players to express themselves in so many different ways.
Just search for 'Minecraft Mega Projects' and you will be treated to recreations of Star Trek ships, dungeons, castles, and even those trying to create their own city from scratch. It's possible to do practically anything and it is this freedom that pushed the game into the hearts of the players. From here, the community took over. Word of mouth, excited forum posts, YouTube videos all helped to spread the word and push the product and idea behind it.
What is it that budding indie developers should learn here? It is not necessarily the budget to market your product, but listen to your players, improve and make them happy. Let them build their community and they will spread news of your product faster then any artificial viral marketing campaign.
Come to think about it, this is exactly what is lacking in many big budget games.