Mojang on Possible Minecraft Subscriptions, Boycotting E3

A recent interview with Mojang's Chief Executive Carl Manneh on IT 24 (translated by MCVNordic and reported on by GamesBeat) reveals that the Minecraft maker is seriously considering a subscription model for its popular world building game and why it decided to boycott the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles this summer.

Manneh said in the interview that he thinks that Minecraft's popularity has not yet waned and with six million people still playing it, it's hard to argue that fact.

“I don’t think the Minecraft wave is over by a long shot, but the market will be saturated eventually,” Mojang Chief Executive Carl Manneh said. “Since Minecraft is a game you pay for once and then always have access to no matter how many updates and changes we release, we have to look at new ways to make money in the long run.”

On the subject of boycotting E3, Manneh said that the company came to that decision because of the Entertainment Software Association's decision to strongly support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The support of the bill that was inevitably defeated by large scale protests against lawmakers and the companies that supported it rubbed the Swedish developer the wrong way.

“The organization behind the convention supports the SOPA initiative in the US," he said. "We are against it and have no wish to support those who support SOPA, it’s as simple as that. So we’re not going.”

In January of this year the ESA dialed back its strong support of SOPA and PIPA, instead calling on all involved to work out some sort of compromise that balanced the interests of stakeholders, copyright owners, and technology firms. Of course, by the time it did that the bill was as good as dead.

"…we call upon Congress, the Obama Administration, and stakeholders to refocus their energies on producing a solution that effectively balances both creative and technology interests," the ESA said is a press statement in January. "As an industry of innovators and creators, we understand the importance of both technological innovation and content protection and are committed to working with all parties to encourage a balanced solution."

On a related note, Mojang and Microsoft launched Minecraft on Xbox Live Arcade this week.

Source: GamesBeat

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  1. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Yeah, I think the modding would be the real killer for this idea.

    Since discovering Technic Pack I have cared very little about the offical updates that Mojang puts out.  I imagine if they were really going to try to make money off subscriptions they would have to crack down on 3rd party mods, and that would really break the community… and minecraft is a game that depends heavily on community to sell.

  2. 0
    ChuckLez says:

    Well, I could see the subscription service for consoles, but would have to be pretty out there for PC. Considering the PC version can be modded to whatever your heart is content with, there is pretty much nothing extra that could be added on that one couldn't say, carry over or copy in a mod.

  3. 0
    SpaceGhost2K says:

    Here, let me help:

    GamesBeat's headline: "Mojang talks Minecraft subscriptions"

    GamePolitics' headline: "Mojang on Possible Minecraft Subscriptions"

    What Manneh from Mojang actually said: “Since Minecraft is a game you pay for once and then always have access to no matter how many updates and changes we release, we have to look at new ways to make money in the long run.”

    Manneh never said there would be subscriptions. He never even said they were considering. In fact, the only reference he made to subscriptions was that Minecraft didn't have one. GameBeat's headline was not an un-truth, but it certainly didn't reflect the conversation that took place. GamePolitics' headline was an even further leap. While also not a flat-out un-truth, it implies Mojang is considering this, when Manneh actually says they are considering other new ways to make money. Manneh states that Minecraft is what it is, and never suggests that they will change that. Rather, he implies that they will never change it, when he states that they will look for other ways.

    *EDIT* Here's a quote from the translation site, MCV, that was not included in the GB or GP articles: “This is both a way to make life easier for the players and for us to guarantee that the hosting solution is of a good quality, and in the long run generate some money through a subscription model. This service won’t be free, and it’s not unthinkable that it will be an important source of revenue going forward,” Manneh says." (italics mine) Again, he's not talking about the main service, but an additional service.

    I'm a little surprised that GamesBeat would write a headline like that, that provides such an obvious opportunity for readers to jump to conclusions. I'm even more surprised that GamePolitics jumped.

    A little reading comprehension and critical thinking would actually lead one to believe they are considering something like Angry Birds, where Rio was free (to hook people) and Angry Birds and Angry Birds Space were sold to generate revenue. Or Farmville where the game is free but certain kinds of premium content requires a fee. For the people who didn't pay for Minecraft, or never will, there will always be content there for them to play with. For those who want more and who are willing to pay for an expanded experience, it sounds like they want to offer them that option. It would be like saying the Star Trek:TNG universe will always be free, but if you want Deep Space Nine or Voyager, you have to pay for them.

  4. 0
    Dinasis says:

    The whole subscription idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I'm not saying that I don't think they deserve financial support from their playerbase, but like tallimar said, I think a subscription is something that should have been implemented when it came out of beta.


    I think it's better to ask: if Minecraft gets to the point where it stops paying for its own development, would it be so wrong to stop developing it? Would that somehow diminish what they've already accomplished? Is there some sort of fear that moving away from Minecraft to something new will negatively change the culture at Mojang or be some sort of admission of failure?

  5. 0
    beemoh says:

    It's interesting how things that get seen as 'evil', 'money-grabbing' and 'corporate' still manage to seep their way down eventually.

    It's almost as if such practices are kind of what you have to do to survive, or something, rather than just something done in order to acquire additional gold yachts. Crazy stuff.


  6. 0
    kagirinai says:

    I don't see the subscription model idea as being villainous or bad. It's also not surprising. Mojang has said they don't want to make a Minecraft 2; however, to support Minecraft, they need it to continue to produce them income — that's just the reality of it.

    Notch has also shown that he's got a fairly good grasp of how not to be evil. Which means he probably won't let Mojang reneg on the free-updates-forever statement that sold a lot of people on the game — which means they'll need to provide something complimentary, but separate, for people to subscribe to.

    What would make the most sense is something like a TF2 model, where players can pay for something non-vital (like special skin options). Alternatively, they may provide a service like XBL — where players get access to supported servers, early access to updates or exclusive mods or skins.

    Of course, considering how the gaming community's most vocal are plenty happy to shit over anything, it doesn't really matter how legitimate the subscription is — we will always have a lot of people complaining about it.

  7. 0
    Technogeek says:

    The subscription seems to be in the context of hosting and a "server solution", the latter of which I'll admit I'm unfamiliar with. If they're planning what would basically be first-party MP server hosting, that could have potential as an ongoing revenue stream without impacting those who have already bought the game.

  8. 0
    GoodRobotUs says:

    I bought the game based on a non pay-to-play system, and any attempt to force a different system on people would almost certainly see legal repercussions and a lot of bad press for Notch.

    Trying to include things for purchase, in the style of DLC, or pushing marketing into the game would be almost as bad, half the appeal to the Minecraft crowd is the 'accessibility' of the company and the open relationship between them, that would most certainly be changed if pay-based systems became involved.

  9. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    I think they could get a subscription model to work. They would have to be careful in how they approach it.

    One way they could do it is allow for people to upgrade to a subscription and get a 6 month lead on new features and updates. After 6 months, the updates get rolled out to those who pay the flat fee. 

    At least I wouldn't hate such a model.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  10. 0
    tallimar says:

    subs for minecraft?  that's something that shouldve been decided early in development, not after release and after 6+ million people have bought it.

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