In a recent interview with PC Gamer Notch discussed his reasons for keeping Minecraft off of Steam. Probably the number one reason is because Minecraft is still making a third of a million dollars from direct downloads every day, over 2 million dollars a week. But he continued on to say:
“As much as I love Steam, I do somewhat worry about the PC as a gaming platform becoming owned by a single entity that takes 30% of all PC games sold. I’m hoping for a future where more games can self-publish and use social media and friends to market their games. Perhaps there’s something we could do to help out there?”
In today’s indie game scene self-publishing is a goal that few studios can even dream of achieving successfully. Unless developers have some kind of clout in the gaming world then there is no good way to market their games without buckets of money for advertisements. But for games that cost less than a couple thousand dollars to create, spending 100 times that to advertise doesn’t make sense, and is almost never possible.
The most popular and successful of indie games have made their debut in large communities. Xbox Live’s arcade, PlayStation’s Network , and Steam are some of the only viable places for indie developers to release their games. But in Notch’s interview, it seems like he would like to do something to change that.
Notch’s philanthropy towards the gaming world is something we already know about. He has been one of the biggest contributors to the Humble Indie Bundle several times running. With all of the money that Minecraft has made him I wouldn’t be surprised if he started some kind of nonprofit whose sole purpose is to promote other indie games, in terms of finance and marketing.
If Notch doesn’t want to take the generous route, there is still a way for him to make a decent amount of money working with indie developers outside of Steam’s clout. Indie Fund, a company started by a group of indie developers (including the creator of Braid and the creators of World of Goo) is funding indie video game products that look like they have the ability to become great games. The funding is for not just game development, but the marketing aspect as well. Notch could adopt a similar model using the huge amounts of money Minecraft has made him.
Or maybe Notch doesn’t really want to help the indie scene, and he’s just blowing smoke in his interview. Decide for yourself by reading the full interview here.