Enter the characters you see below Sorry, we just need to make sure you’re not a robot. Enter the characters you see below Minecraft figure, we just need to make sure you’re not a robot. Markus «Notch» Persson on why he sold Minecraft to Microsoft: «Art is never finished, only abandoned.
This story appears in the March 23, 2015 issue of Forbes. The word «Minecraft» is Googled more often than the Bible, Harry Potter and Justin Bieber. Monday in Stockholm, and Markus Persson sits on the terrace of his ninth-story office, sipping the speedball of alcoholic beverages, a vodka Red Bull. Three hours ago he committed to not drinking today, still in recovery from a 12-drink Thursday bender while nursing an ear infection. Persson, pointing to a man in a building across the street rubbing his face and staring blankly into a computer screen. After a few more seconds of looking at the man, Persson seems bothered by the scene and darts inside. For the better part of the last five years the 35-year-old Swede was that guy, a man who constantly stressed about his creation, Minecraft, the bestselling computer game of all time.
Even calling it a game is too limiting. Minecraft became, with 100 million downloads and counting, a canvas for human expression. Truly obsessed adults, though, have spent hundreds of hours creating full-scale replicas of the Death Star, the Empire State Building and cities from Game of Thrones. 700 million in its lifetime, the large majority of which is pure profit.
Ian Bogost, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology who studies videogames. It compares to other hit products that are much bigger than games. In this virtual world, Persson—or rather his Internet persona, a loudmouthed fedora-wearing crank named Notch—became a deity-like figure to millions of gamers, establishing and clarifying the rules with Zeus-like authority. But Persson is anything but an opinionated extrovert. Face-to-face he’s polite, plainspoken and private. He rarely talks with the press. So with well over half his life ahead of him, the man who created an entire universe, whose persona was synonymous with it and who received the wrath of his community for abandoning it, must now figure out exactly who he is.