Even for those not mired in the grip of a life-destroying Minecraft addiction, the world-building game from Markus “Notch” Persson’s Mojang is a fascinating success story. The downloadable PC game launched, but only sort of, all the way back in 2009. Technically, it still isn’t out yet, though the full, final release is planned for later this year. Until DLC updates arrive to change everything around, that is.
You can buy the game now in its beta form directly from the Minecraft.net website easily enough, though some PC gamers have expressed surprise that Mojang hasn’t partnered up with Valve‘s Steam for a wider reach in the realm of digital distribution. Notch was asked that very question at PAX this past weekend and, forthcoming fellow that he is, he took to his The Word of Notch blog when he got home to print his explanation in a public forum.
Notch starts off by heaping some praise on Steam, which he calls “the best digital distribution platform I’ve ever seen.” He then reads through all of the assorted features that combine to make things so awesome… before diving in to explain why Minecraft isn’t on Steam and may well never be.
“Being on Steam limits a lot of what we’re allowed to do with the game, and how we’re allowed to talk to our users,” Notch writes. “We (probably?) wouldn’t be able to, say, sell capes or have a map market place on minecraft.net that works with Steam customers in a way that keeps Valve happy. It would effectively split the Minecraft community into two parts, where only some of the players can access all of the weird content we want to add to the game.”
Notch goes on to mention that Mojang is in discussion with Valve about remedying the situation, but since these issues relate to the platform’s overall framework, the chances of a Minecraft release on Steam are slim. As the game’s creator writes, “There’s a certain inherent incompatibility between what we want to do and what they want to do.”