Minecraft, the awesomely addictive procedurally generated isometric sandbox architecture/adventure game-type thing that never ends, has sold its 400,000th unit, and then a few thousand more for good measure. Some time between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm, on Wednesday October 13th, it exploded past the 400,000 unit milestone with just over 7,000 sales in a 24 hour period. This is all without a publisher, without a single advertisement, and the work of one person, Markus "Notch" Persson. Some say he's a programmer; some say he's a mad scientist. Some of his fans on YouTube casually refer to him as a God of a new universe.
At 9.95 Euros a pop, that's a little over 4 million Euros, which translates to a little over 5.5 million U.S. dollars. When I last checked in with Minecraft, a month ago, it had sold over 150,000 units. So the game is accelerating, and sold 250,000 units in just this past month. One of the greatest indie success stories in recent years is unfolding before our eyes, speeding up and heating up, and it's not even in Beta yet. When it finally does reach Beta it will include full multiplayer in Survival Mode, allowing players to cooperatively mine for resources, build shelters together, fight zombies, and argue over interior design. In other words, it's quickly becoming the cross between Diablo and Animal Crossing that we've always dreamed of.
As Minecraft becomes more and more successful, more people start to ask what it is, and you might be one of them, but... well, it's tricky to explain. At the game's own website, Notch describes it as a "game about placing blocks while running from skeletons. Or something like that.." And well, he's right. The quickest way to explain it is probably to call it a game with zero content and infinite gameplay. There's no actual goal (so far anyway, but a few will be coming eventually), but players quickly create their own. Some people are making 2D pixel art out of the blocks:
While others are creating Minecraft Interstates as far as they can across the map (which generates itself forever in all directions as you explore):
Some people farm, some people sail the open seas, some make custom skins for their characters, and others are content with riding pigs around forever. It's the first "sandbox game" that actually lets you dig up sand at the beach, build a giant sandbox, build a sandcastle in it, smelt the sand into glass with a furnace you built yourself, rebuild it into a giant glass pyramid with a moat of lava, and then blow it all up with TNT while riding a pig. It really makes you rethink the phrase "sandbox game."
So what's next for Minecraft after 400,000 sales? Now we wait for Halloween, when the game will get a new free update that adds fishing, watches, jack-o-lanterns, four new types of terrain, and portals to Hell. Seriously.