The 2 worst phrases I said after witnessing the Minecraft and Terraria success

First Minecraft “cloned” and (greatly) polished Infiniminer, and developer “got lucky and got rich” (so I heard people saying, this isn’t my opinion).

Then many people said “why I didn’t think of that” or “I could have done that!” (I know I did, although I did try focus on “what was it in this project that made it successful? What can I learn” rather than just focus on “how gameplay works”).

Then some months passes. Developers of Terraria took Minecraft ideas, added their own ones (aka polished to create a different gameplay experience) and now the game has generated over 2 million sales already.

And again people are saying “how they got lucky because of Steam” and “I could have done that!”, or saying “why they didn’t think that” (or some people: “I was thinking that, but was too busy” – this time this phrase came closest to my mind. Again I try to explore this phenomenon and see what I can learn).

Now somebody will most likely take Terraria ideas (Notch, Minecraft creator, is already taking notes on what to steal), use some different gameplay mechanism, and becomes a millionaire.

And then again people are saying “I could have done that!”

What were you thinking when you heard about Minecraft success, and then later about Terraria success?

What are you thinking now?

My thoughts are: “These games are amazing indie development project. I now focus on my card game & polish it so that it becomes the game I dreamt about few years ago. Only by creating fun games I get experience to create fun games. Donuts are the fruits of labor. What can I learn from these?”

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. The success of Minecraft was mostly because of this blog post:
    It multiplied Minecrafts sales to about 100 times. So one can easily say Minecraft was more luck than “rewarded”.

    Terraria got a hype from the beginning as “2D minecraft rip-off” (negative news spread faster than positive ;) ) but could easily convice the people to play it (mostly because it is so extremly addictive, I guess) and so rapidly spread about the globe resulting in extremly high sales.

    So, without Minecraft, Terraria wouldn’t have been sucessful, and Minecraft wouln’t have been sucessful without that lucky blogpost.

  2. It’s very easy to say you can come up with something once its already in your face. A successful product is like a solved puzzle. When someone tells you the solution, it always seems obvious, but finding the solution yourself is much harder.

  3. At first I thought like many did: “What…so simple idea, “easy” game to make yet it’s sucesfull” but then again I’m aware that it’s an idea that counts. Yes, many developers could do the game with idea given but it’s hard to come up with an idea. That’s all it is to it I guess :)

    Why it tastes that good (my opinion):
    – multiplayer
    – freedom of forging the world (who doesn’t like to to create whatever they want?)
    – there is additional element: mining. It just feels great when you see something built out of your labour (gathering).

    If someone can make a multiplayer game where you start on a lonely island starting with nothing but a bare hands with options of “inventing” new stuff like ropes, how to build wooden shacks, explore which plants are healthy, making cloths out of animal skins (for which you would have to invent primitve knife first etc.)…well, you can be a bilionare with that kind of game.

    Minecraft is still very limited but it still offers lots of freedom for the players.

    My 5 cents :)

  4. My most common thought is “Finally, a huge indie hit that’s catching the attention of the mainstream. Perhaps the power will shift from big AAA games to smaller, better games and teams that deserve it.”

  5. well, with minecraft I just said – “great idea, this is gonna be big” – I think the fact that young and old male AND FEMALE, will enjoy minecraft because of the aesthetics and the building creative side of things.

    Terraria is much more old style shoot-em up which is riding on the word and mouth popularity spread because of minecraft.

    Terraria.org founders must be chuffed to bits!

  6. Some questions thought that are left unanswered:
    – How they managed to get their game to Steam?
    – Why Valve chose to court them a lot?
    – Terraria is mentioned all over the place, not only in Steam

  7. The interesting thing I thought was the difference of approach to sales. Terraria sold as a Steam game and perhaps mostly did as well because they were a Steam game. Minecraft chose to stick to their own system, even though it’s pretty obvious Valve courted them a lot. In like a week or so, Terraria has sold more units than Minecraft has in two years. I’d be interested to know why Mojang didn’t make the move to Steam (although it could be that Steam doesn’t sell explicitly beta games and Notch might have been reluctant to end the beta early).

  8. Honestly? What I’m saying about Minecraft is “I don’t get it. What’s the appeal?”.

  9. Great news! I saw that Minecraft will launch on Xperia Play as well. Haha, now people start playing Minecraft using their mobiles, but i don’t understand how this could be done with sensor panel.

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