Certain games leave a lasting mark in the gaming industry. Others follow the path they lay down for years to come. The players reminisce about the game long after its popularity has dropped. Other games emulate these games and become hits of their own.
Minecraft is one of these games. It is a hit in the commercial market sense and in terms of popularity. It has become a cultural phenomenon, traversing countries. It has gained a foothold in the hearts of thousands of players worldwide.
It has also inspired numerous of its players to create artistic achievements within the game’s econ-systems. These achievements have been lauded by gamers and non-gamers alike.
All in all, Minecraft is one of those games that reveal the insane possibilities that games offer us.
Likewise, Minecraft is also a game that has generated a lot of revenue. The game has grossed millions each year in the past decade. It has inspired indie companies and video game development services providers to create their best possible games.
In this blog, we aim to look into how a game like Minecraft makes money and what revenue model Minecraft follows.
Minecraft is a sandbox game. It is set in a vast blocky world inhabited by creatures and many other items.
You can enjoy the game in different ways based on your playing preference. If you want to spend time surviving the wilderness, you have that option. If you want to create things inside the game, such as elaborate structures and architectural marvels, you can do that. You can even go on adventures within the game.
All in all, it is a game that allows its users to do many diverse things.
It was created by a developer named Markus Persson from Sweden. After a few iterations of the game, it was eventually released as Cave Game. Then he later renamed it to Minecraft.
The game was released in May 2009. It garnered a lot of acclaim from numerous corners. Users were fond of the unique gameplay experience that it provided.
Later, Persson founded the game development studio Mojang Studios, and Minecraft was sold under their banner. The company released continuous updates for the game, introducing new features and content for the players to explore.
Eventually, a few years later, Microsoft acquired Mojang Studios for $2.5 billion. The company is now still under the ownership of Microsoft. The game continues to add new content for all its players to this day.
As mentioned before, Minecraft is a game that generates a lot of money. You may now ask how much money does Minecraft make?
The answer, as of 2021, is $380 million. In 2020, the game made $415 million, in 2019, $375 million, and 2018 $500 million. This is the revenue from all the different gaming platforms Minecraft is released in combined.
However, if you look at how much money Minecraft has made from mobile, the figures are a bit different. In 2022, the game generated $102.6 million on mobile. In 2021, the figure stood at $157.65 million. In 2020 and 2019, these figures were $142.6 and $110.98 respectively.
Such a massive revenue of Minecraft is because of the number of users that the game has. As of 2021, the game has 93 million monthly active users. In 2020, this figure was 131 million; in 2019, it was 91 million.
It has also sold millions of copies worldwide. It is the second most sold game out there. As of 2021, it has sold 238 million copies. In 2020, this was 200 million; in 2019, it was 176 million. The high number of sales has contributed greatly to Minecraft’s money.
Numerous revenue models are pivotal for Minecraft. Below, you can find a list of them:
Minecraft is not a game that is free to play. You cannot download the game for free and then play it.
Instead, Minecraft is a paid game. This means you have to make payments for the game ahead of time. You must pay a certain amount upfront to purchase the game from an online or offline store. Only then will you be able to enjoy the gameplay experience.
The paid model is a dominant monetization model. It is prevalent in console and PC games in particular. You have to pay a particular amount in most games to purchase the game. Then, you can access the entire game as the developers release it.
The paid model has also been around for decades now. In the earlier days of gaming, digital stores were unavailable due to technological limitations. So, the only way to distribute games was through physical copies. The only way to do that was through direct sales that involved an upfront fee.
Minecraft has generated revenue through this model in heaps because of the high number of sales that it has completed. The game’s stature as one of the biggest games in the world has helped the revenue model of Minecraft give huge returns.
A lot of games generate a lot of their revenue through merchandise sales.
In fact, like movies, games have also become bringers of huge revenue in terms of merchandise. Numerous games out there release merchandise based on certain aspects in their game. These might be certain characters or other central aspects of the game’s experience.
For Minecraft, too, merch accounts for a percentage of its revenue. Minecraft has a dedicated store that sells merchandise of diverse types. For both adults and kids.
These are also very diverse. It includes plush toys, lunch boxes, hoodies, toys, puzzles, beddings, t-shirts, etc. There is a variety of these available under each category that players can purchase according to their preferences.
Merchandise is popular because it helps extend the gaming experience beyond the virtual world and translate it into the real world. It helps players celebrate their passion for a particular and signals to others about the same.
Minecraft also has in-app purchases.
In-app purchases have recently become more dominant. It is part of Minecraft’s revenue model and is implemented seamlessly.
Minecraft has an in-game currency that goes by the name of Minecoin. From the in-game marketplace, you can purchase bundles of this in-game currency. There are usually multiple variants that players can choose based on their budget.
You can purchase many items, such as skins, textures, and mini-games, using this in-game currency. These items can be used inside the game to enhance your gameplay experience.
In-app purchases have become such a crucial aspect of game monetization because of their success. It is the most dominant strategy in the gaming industry at the moment.
The strategy is alluring to players because the purchases regarding the required spend are smaller. There are also often multiple options for the players, offering them a much more personalized experience.
For the game development company, the purchases overall add up. If numerous users make these small purchases, the developer continues to earn revenue for the long term.
Minecraft: Realms is the multi-player version of the game. It allows up to 10 players to enjoy the game together. This usually enhances a solitary playing experience into a social experience with friends and family.
This version of the game follows the subscription method. Under this, players have a set of subscription options to choose from. Based on the rate of the subscriptions, the overall features also vary.
Subscription options are alluring to game developers as they offer them a much more predictable and stable income. Other monetization models of Minecraft, be it upfront payment or IAPs, lack this stability.
More and more games have started experimenting with this business model in Minecraft. Some games offer subscriptions that periodically provide certain benefits, such as skins and other cosmetics.
The monetization of Minecraft is tied deeply to its game design. Without the game design, the revenue model of Minecraft wouldn’t work out nearly so well.
So, let us have a closer look at the myriad of design choices that have led to immense success and played a pivotal part in how Minecraft makes money.
Minecraft is known for being a game that unleashes its players’ creativity. It lets the players build many things as they see fit.
It also does this through its Partner Program. The partner program is a scheme where players can create specific items and sell them to others for profit.
First, the players have to sign up for the program. This lets them access an exclusive creative portal. Using all the tools, they can create different types of items and submit them to the in-game store.
Then, there comes a submission review process. The internal time of Minecraft analyzes each submission, approves those that meet their standards, and rejects those that don’t.
Finally, the items are hosted in the in-game store if the work is approved. Upon each sale, the creator gets 30-50% of the purchase value.
This incentivizes people who love to game to monetize their attention. This further drives engagement as more and more people use the game as a platform to unleash their creativity. It also aids in building a vibrant community, which is vital to making money from your game in today’s competitive gaming industry.
One of Minecraft’s most significant success formulas was its implementation of LiveOps. The developers behind the game consistently polished the product with new features and content. This led to more and more users falling in love with the game.
Moreover, unlike many games that do LiveOps, the game is not freemium. This meant that the game provided additional content even to the players that they were less likely to monetize down the line. Minecraft is one of the few games to do this.
LiveOps is also an ingenious method to drive engagement for the long term. If done well, it extends the game’s lifetime to far beyond its initial few years.
Minecraft is a game that caters to the playing needs of a wider demographic. It is equally suited for people from all walks of life and ages.
This is because the primary method of gameplay most people follow for the game revolves around creation rather than any combat mechanics. Additionally, players can enjoy the game in multiple modes, whether survival, creative, or multi-player.
A game that caters to the needs of a diverse set of users is naturally bound to gain a higher number of users than one that doesn’t do the same. Hence, the monetization level also can be on the higher side.
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Minecraft is a revolutionary game. It is one of the most sold video games ever for particular reasons. The quality of gameplay it provides is unparalleled.
The game has been continuously updated for years despite being acclaimed. The developers behind the game constantly try to introduce new content and engage the users much better.
A game like Minecraft would cost the developer around $250,000 and upward.
One reason is that Minecraft is a massive game with an expansive world, So the team would have to create the entire open world of the game. It also requires coding all the features, designing the entire gameplay experience, and testing all the features.
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It follows multiple business models. The main one is the pay-in-advance model. It also has subscriptions and IAPs implemented.
In 2021 alone, the game made $380 million. In 2020, the figure was even higher and stood at $415 million.
Markus Persson, a game developer from Sweden. The game was acquired by Microsoft a few years later.