When the rumor first appeared that Microsoft was in talks to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang, it was a shock to many. But sure enough, just days after the news broke, the story became official, with Microsoft paying an incredible $2.5 billion for ownership of one of the most successful indie games of all time. It’s a huge boon for Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, Minecraft’s creator, and many have speculated as to what Notch will do with his newfound fortune – including Conan O’Brien.
However, Persson’s given reason for leaving behind the game he created and nurtured was far from the greed and hedonism that some have suspected. Instead, he cited the pressures of being in the spotlight. After a recent spout of hate following controversy regarding Minecraft’s EULA, Persson realised he “didn’t have the connection” to his fans that he thought he had. Upon becoming less of a person and more of a “symbol,” Persson said that the time was right to sell.
Persson was not the only individual responsible for making Minecraft into the behemoth property that it is today. Take, for instance, the haunting score that accompanies players in their Minecraft adventures. That score – along with the sound design of the game itself – was the creation of composer Daniel Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld’s profile grew along with Mojang’s, eventually allowing him to focus solely on his music as a means of income. As someone who worked closely with Persson, Rosenfeld was able to give his own thoughts on Microsoft’s takeover.
Speaking with Polygon, Rosenfeld discussed the role of social media in Persson’s decision to sell. The backlash Persson felt over public forums like Twitter could certainly be seen as a catalyst, with the impersonal nature of social networks seen by Rosenfeld as a dark side to that level of direct communication. “At some point, said Rosenfeld, “social networks do not see you as a person anymore.” Rosenfeld said that users personally communicate with public figures “as if they’re basically publicly stating their opinion.”
The composer has seen his own Twitter following explode to nearly 200,000 followers as Minecraft’s popularity grew, and feels the pressures of that intrusion himself – despite his follower figure being a far cry from Persson’s two million. Rosenberg explains the effect that “some guy on Twitter” can have when that person uses social media as a platform for hate messages. “You spend most of that day thinking about this one guy,” explains Rosenberg. “Maybe he was right. Maybe you’re actually terrible and didn’t know yet. That feeling also happens with Markus, except it’s amplified times two million.” Rosenberg then says, succinctly, that he “can absolutely understand that [Persson] might have been emotionally bankrupt after hundreds of thousands of people told him he’s garbage.”
Rosenfeld was also able to talk about a failed project with Persson, an ambitious first-person space exploration title called 0x10c. Persson stopped work on the project, which was set in an alternate future where the space race never ended, in August of last year. By that point Rosenfeld had already created a pair of potential themes of the game, which he released via Bandcamp on Monday. Those few minutes of score may be the only thing that the public see of the project, other than a few scant screenshots, a teaser trailer and a few other test videos. However, Rosenfeld has no hard feelings over 0x10c, a “struggle” that he enjoyed. “I’m not bitter,” said Rosenfeld. “I still had fun thinking about the concept.”
It remains to be seen what Persson will create next. However, Rosenberg will continue working on Minecraft for now – and will do so “as long as we’re still happy with the product.” Rosenberg does have some other video game projects lined up as well as his work with Minecraft. Let’s see whether he teams up with Persson once again in the future.