Despite big-budget distractions like EA's Battlefield 4 reveal, the story of the 2013 Game Developers Conference was really about indie games and experimental game design: a realm Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson is intimately familiar with. And at GDC, The Verge had the chance to sit down with Persson for an interview about his company Mojang, the new consoles on the block, and the future of game development.
Note: this segment originally aired as part of April 4th's Top Shelf: the underdogs of gaming — watch here!
When asked about GDC's rising focus on indie games, Persson said "it gives me hope for the future. Gaming goes in trends an for a bit of a too long stretch it focused on huge productions. Now that games are getting a little bit smaller again we can get some more experimental games going." But what does that mean for indie developers trying to break out on crowded or locked-down platforms? Persson's own Minecraft started out as a small experimental game for the PC, and only made it to platforms like the Xbox because of its runaway success.
"The more consoles the better."
When asked if Minecraft could have ever originally made it on a console, Persson said "no, definitely not. The game was kind of too out there for anyone to bet on it." Of course, consoles — even including Sony's upcoming PlayStation 4 — are becoming more open, and Persson has been an eager backer of experimental consoles like the Ouya. As a major backer, Persson has his name etched on the side of every Ouya console that ships. "The more consoles the better," Persson said, "because if there's more competition they might get more open."
As for the future of Minecraft and Mojang, Persson expressed comfort with the company's position. While Mojang is now much bigger (and wealthier) than your average "garage developer," Persson says the company still retains an indie spirit. "We try to make games we want to make for the sake of making fun games and not necessarily to make a profit," he told The Verge. But what about those garage developers, who could be working on the next Minecraft? For those developers, Persson has some simple advice; "just make games for yourself and try to have a critical eye to what you do," he said. "If you genuinely like the game there will be other people who like it as well."