January 12th, 2012 | By Chris Priestman
[Header image courtesy of Zedig]
Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of the huge hit Minecraft, is known to make jokes quite often, especially on his Twitter account. However, when he told a Twitter follower who said he couldn’t afford to purchase Minecraft, Notch seemed to be quite sincere in his suggesting of pirating the game. Is he mad? Perhaps not.
Given the amount of people trying to contact Notch through his Twitter account asking for help or asking questions, it’s unlikely that you will ever get through to him. Andres Leay, probably thinking the same thing, contacted Notch stating that he could not afford to buy Minecraft and wanted to know if he could get a free account before he resorts to piracy. Surprisingly, Notch actually got back to Andres and said to “Just pirate it.”
The suggestion by Notch comes as a bit of a shock considering that recent statistics released by TorrentFreak have proven that game piracy for PC games especially is still very much a big problem. Many developers are missing out on a lot of revenue due to people preferring to pirate their game rather than purchase it.
This is not the first time that Notch has stood in a controversial light when it comes to game piracy though. During the Game Developer’s Conference in March of last year, Notch famously argued that “piracy is not theft”.
“If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world” Notch stated. “There is no such thing as a ‘lost sale’. Is a bad review a lost sale? What about a missed ship date?”
It seems those sentiments still live on inside the Minecraft creators mind as he now openly tells followers who cannot afford the game to pirate it just so they can play it. The views of Notch seem to be of the thinking that if you have a good game that someone cannot afford and therefore they cannot play it – that is a missed sale. However, if they then pirate the game and then, as Notch says, buy it in the future when they can afford it – then you have gained a sale. A person who has played the game will usually go on to spread the word about how good the game is and encourage friends to buy it too.
It’s for reasons such as this that the free-to-play model has been widely adopted in the last year or so by many games. Marketing in this day and age is dominated by word of mouth via the vibrant social networks – Twitter, Facebook etc. You need people to play the game so they will then use these channels to spread the word and effectively do the marketing for you, provided they like your game. Thinking in this way, Notch’s suggestion to pirate the game doesn’t seem so insane. Mind you, it’s not like he has to worry about sales considering that Minecraft has sold over 4 million copies since its launch last November.