Why The Hell Minecraft Is So Popular Even When It Does Everything “Wrong”

If a game developer I was to approach a venture capitalist and say that here’s the situation:

  • The game is in alpha state (meaning it’s still in very early development)
  • The game has blocky graphics
  • The game has no tutorial, but you can check some youtube videos players make
  • The point of the game is to place blocks around while running away from skeletons (or something)
  • The developer has no company (no time to mess with the legals side of things yet)
  • The game development is done like this: “There’s no design doc, but there are two lists; one for bugs, and one for features I want to add but think I might forget.”

… I think the venture capitalist wouldn’t say “that sounds like a recipe for a game that’s sure to make 3,5M+ euros! I’m sold!”

Back to earth
I don’t really know why Minecraft is so popular but here’s couple of things that caught my eye:

  1. First of all, it’s based on already fun game, Infiniminer. Minecraft dev said that this game idea looked fun, and saw that it could have tons of potential.
  2. Secondly, the game idea itself is about building/creation/exploration. People like these things. Think of Sims, or think of Farmville. Or think of older games: Civilization 1 for example. Or even older, games like Populous. Man is good at destroying things, but there’s something strangely satisfying in building something. (Since you get the bragging rights).
  3. Thirdly: I don’t know exactly how, but Minecraft got good publicity from Steam (and was selling pretty neatly before that too) and then “Paypal froze 600 000 euros” story, then Twitter and everywhere. Of course this probably wouldn’t happen unless the game was phenomenonal, but I think also marketingwise things worked out pretty slick.

I look at Minecraft development and think that it’s just… amazing. Everything around it. It does things differently. Every advice I’ve got about “doing things by the book” really are ready to be thrown out of the window.

Really makes you stop and think for a moment.

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. When i get bored with minecraft after playing for a month or two you know what i do? i add mods to my game to expand it and create more elaborate structures and devices of all kinds, i mean have you ever played the technic modpacks? the possibilities are endless

  2. The thing is, there is a huge variety of modifications for the game. A planes mod, a guns mod and a cars mod. Even a conveyor belt cooker mod. It’s limitless.

  3. You can actually do both of those things. How can a game i which you can literally build ANYTHING you want be monotonous?

  4. Not nessisarlly minecraft is still improving on quite an impressive game that it is so I think people that don’t like it are stupid

  5. There are a few things that make a good game. Most important of these are gameplay, story, and graphics

    Graphics immerse you into the game and create atmosphere, Minecraft does not have that. The game however fits that into its style of play.

    There is no story, don’t even try to argue that.

    This game is a sandbox, but most people realize little of how this game is actually limited. You can place things, and activate things, but can you have duels? Can you pilot vehicles? No. This makes the game monotonous and repetitive, and I for one, hate playing it.

  6. for gods sake!
    First of all, it would be very alarming to see a professional architect using this to design a building!
    Secondly, its bad graphics, the fact that they cant even get the shape of clouds or trees right, makes it very limited when ‘building’ something.
    Finally, if people want to be architects they could have MUCH more fun building realistic models on FREE programs like Google Sketchup, instead of spending about 20euros on this which cant even get shapes right.
    PROPER software can encourage you to be architects, and could possibly get you a well-paid future. Minecraft can’t do any of them.

  7. No Johnny, that is not AT ALL what minecraft is about. AT ALLLLL.

  8. Some people besides the creators actually make a living from playingminecraft no kidding

  9. Ban mw3 and black ops then do you not see how many kids waste their time on that! Plus minecraft if you understood it is really fun but half the people here don’t even like the graphics. Seriously, you just don’t judge a game by graphics. Also if you want adventure download an adventure map (google hypixel) and move it to your save file. Not hard unless computers are new

  10. Play someone’s adventture map.. Google hypixel he makes great adventure maps or make your own! Minecraft is minecraft for a reason

  11. There are actually 20,000,000 minecraft players . Not including the approximate 5,000,000 who hacked the game to get it for free

  12. Minecraft is not just cool! It is EPIC!

    I have never seen any game as awesome ans this one!

    Why are people dissing this game when it is probably the ‘Online Most Played Game Ever!’!!!.

    People need to chill when they complain about the graphics! What would Minecraft be without blocks and bad graphics? What would be in you inventory? A pebble?

  13. I fully agree with your point Eduardo Edheg. I also feel this way about the game minecraft. I see young children wasting their valuable lives gaming away on minecraft. Personally I believe that the game should be banned by the government.

  14. I, The Edheg, announce that if one plays this minecraft substance, then thou ist grotesque! I, the majesty of all importance, must enforce that these beautiful young creatures we call children should not be encouraged to this brutality! If ones young children have been drawn into this act of satan, then I fully advise all young ones to visit a help webste. IF you yourself have been subjected to such circumstances then I must put screws to that this stops immediately. Thank you for reading thoust comment, I hope you apprehend all that has been said.

  15. I John-meryl agree with u Jubi, poo is better than minecraft. MInecraft is a waste of time. bad graphics, confusing and pointless game.

  16. minecraft is a bad game wiv random blocks! wot do people see in it? especially benyamin forgacs! i mean wtf!!!!!!!!!! i would rather eat poo than play minecraft for an hour

  17. You do realize there there aren’t even 3 trillion people on the planet, right? Much less 3 trillion trillion.

  18. bill is right it does inspire kids to be architects

  19. On the last *day* of 2012 Minecraft xbox edition alone sold 5M *copies*.

    Today… there’s 8,734,537 people who bought pc/mac edition… with 20eur avg… that’s just about 170M eur sales.

  20. Im with you. I really don’t understand how graphics play a big part in a game, If I wanted visually stunning, Id see a movie. I play games to have fun. the beauty of minecraft is in the simplicity of the game, you can play it as a sandbox, accreative block building sim or an rpg. and that is not even with map downloads or mods yet, mods like tekkit or divinecraft rpg or the aether. all three of them kept me busy for a long time. once you play them with a friend, even more fun!

  21. minecraft is great it is the best game it encourges kids 3-21 to be architects
    so stop talking bad mouthing it

    if you want to fight i have over 3000000000000
    trillion minecrafters on my side so just stop it ok

  22. (Face palm)… That’s not how polygon rendering works. A game can still have a more then 4 vector character and do map generation. Regardless of how many “polygons” the map is made up of. Not sure about mine crafts ‘field of distance’ but that’s what it could have over higher detailed games. But other games deal with that using some cool techniques, like relational polygon count. The level of detail will depend on how far away an object is.

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