Minecraft Creator Says 'No Such Thing As A Lost Sale'

from the give-people-a-reason-to-buy dept

Last year we wrote about how Minecraft developer Notch (Markus Persson) had been quite vocal in saying that worrying about piracy was a waste of time, and it was much more important to focus on giving people a reason to buy. And has he ever. The game keeps selling like crazy, and we detailed how he was raking in a ton of money, despite not caring if people were using his software for free.

In a short presentation at the Independent Games Summit he elaborated on those positions and again told people to stop worrying about "piracy" and focus on giving people reasons to buy. He dismissed the standard party line on these issues:
Piracy is not theft. If you steal a car, the original is lost. If you copy a game, there are simply more of them in the world.

There is no such thing as a 'lost sale'... Is a bad review a lost sale? What about a missed ship date?
The "lost sale" point is one we've raised a bunch in the past, but people have a lot of trouble grasping it. There is no such thing as a lost sale, because a lost sale just means a failure to get people to buy. And that's a marketing issue, not a legal one. If a "lost sale" is illegal, then anyone who gives you a coupon to buy their product instead of a competitors is "causing a lost sale." But that's ridiculous. And that's the point Notch is making. There are all sorts of reasons people might not buy from you -- and most of them may be your fault. So it's your job to convince people to pay for something -- which he's clearly done. As he notes:
If you just make your game and keep adding to it, the people who copyright infringed would buy it the next week.
Another report of the talk showed he expanded on the "copying isn't theft" concept:
A lot of big companies try to make piracy like theft; I wouldn't steal a car, but I would 'steal' a good design. If I liked another person's apartment, I would try to make mine look like someone else's... but that's not stealing.
And, of course, he's still making money like crazy. While it doesn't look like he posts historical data any more, he does show a running tally of the past 24 hours, and as of me writing this, he's sold 10,348 copies in the past 24 hours (out of 36,612 registered). At 15 euros a pop, that's over 150,000 euros in the last day -- for a small indie game. And these numbers have been going on for months. It's not even a situation where there was a big boom and then sales dropped off. It appears that the game just keeps on selling.

But it's impossible to make money because of "piracy" right?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:27am

    I met a guy living on the streets the other day that said space ships are coming. Because he said it, it must be true.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:32am

      Re:

      I met a guy the other day that said they'd rather be selling than suing. That really is true.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      I'll Bite, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      If the dude was wearing a space suit, and beamed down as he said it it would be. Notch isn't just some guy.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      The eejit (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:35am

      Re:

      Well, they are coming! Didn't you get the memo? It said that all the idiots were going to Hollywood for experimental probing.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      freak (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:36am

      Re:

      If that guy on the street made over 20 million euros from the space ships, I might take a little him a little more seriously.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:39am

        Re: Re:

        He claimed he was rich, but Charlie Sheen took it all, or it might have been Bin ladin. I don't remember exactly. He was rambling a bit, concentrating on the sky.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:41am

      Re:

      I met a guy living on the streets the other day that said space ships are coming. Because he said it, it must be true

      If he's saying it from his spaceship, seems like you should take him a bit more seriously, no? Instead, your response seems to be to ignore the spaceship and pretend it doesn't exist.

      In that situation, who's more believable?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:11pm

        Re: Re:

        I don't know: the guy selling the product that cannot be pirated speaking about piracy, or the guy waiting for his space ship talking about space ships. Both of them seem on par to me.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:17pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "the product that cannot be pirated"

          Can you restate that in a way that makes sense?

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          drewmo (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah wait what? Minecraft can't be pirated?

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:34pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Umm, this whole story started because a tonne of people were pirating Minecraft.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            icon
            Mike42 (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 3:14pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Awww, you guys just crushed the troll! Look at the little troll tears running down his troll face as he runs home to his troll mommy!

            You should be ashamed of yourselves! Living in reality like that!

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              icon
              Marcus Carab (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 3:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yup. And now he will just ignore it and make the exact same arguments later without anyone being able to call him on it.

              Anonymous Coward is a very accurate label.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 12:52am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't know: the guy selling the product that cannot be pirated speaking about piracy, or the guy waiting for his space ship talking about space ships. Both of them seem on par to me.

          Heh. Why don't you just give up? The software can be pirated. That was the whole point.

          You keep trying to wish away the actual spaceships while calling the guy in the spaceship a kook for claiming there's a spaceship. At some point, when everyone else can see and touch and feel the spaceship, the one who looks like the kook is you: the guy insisting it's not there.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            That one guy, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 11:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            of course you can pirate it, but Notch does try to stop it (you have to play online before you can play offline...)

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 12:01pm

      Re: The space ships are coming!

      Statistically speaking, given the nigh infinite nature of space and the nigh infinite number of planets, the odds of there NOT being any space ships moving in a direction which could be considered "towards" our planet is staggeringly low.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Joe Vogon, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:01pm

        Re: Re: The space ships are coming!

        Statistically speaking...

        You forgot something. You didn't take into account the quite remote possibility that there are any hyperspace express routes heading in this general direction.

        I think we have nothing to worry about.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Greevar (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 3:47pm

        Re: Re: The space ships are coming!

        You're also forgetting that the space ships are coming because we're building them! It's being assumed that they're coming from space, but they could be coming just like the newest Ford is coming.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:17pm

      Re:

      I met a guy living on the streets the other day that said space ships are coming. Because he said it, it must be true.

      Space ships are coming?

      Dude, we've had space ships for so long that we're already retiring the designs! Discovery has spent a year actually in space since its first launch in 1984!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Discovery

      I shouldn't be surprised. You support the recording industry, so being only 26 years behind the times is an improvement.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    freak (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:29am

    Notch & Mojang Specifications are also good examples for your CwF+RtB model.

    I mean heck, he adds stuff to the game based on twitter convos with random people, and fixes bugs based on community voting.
    He gets excited about ideas, and tweets/retweets really cool things he sees in the MC community, and often draws ideas on what to add or how to change something based on the cool things people have done in MC.


    For some concrete examples, he added delaystone blocks because people were making logical circuits with redstone, and beds because people kept asking for a way to skip night.


    So yeah, there's a good chance I'll buy into whatever games he makes in the future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      cjstg, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:47am

      Re:

      and the product is still in beta. go figure.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        Chargone (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 2:11pm

        Re: Re:

        given the way it's selling and being developed, i'd lay odds that it'll stay that way until such time as Notch gets bored with it and moves onto the next project instead.

        perpetual development... small budget projects can do this.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 8:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The m ain difference is that you can already play it, can already buy it, and is already a load of fun, and it's not completed yet.

          Good projects SHOULD be like this, no matter the budget.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        senshikaze (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 3:00pm

        Re: Re:

        see: all Google products. And they are zillionaires.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:31am

    YARR!

    I be stormin' the seven seas o'Media and be stealing yer rum! Then I be on me way to the X in Sex to steal yer pornography! Then I be stealin' all yer developers and makin'em walk the plank!

    YARR!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:37am

    Anti-pirates are dealing with the same entitlement issues the so-called pirates are accused of.

    The scary part is how anti-piracy arguments are being used against the used items markets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    crade (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 11:42am

    "But it's impossible to make money because of "piracy" right?"
    It's not impossible, but every time it happens it's some miracle one off, the sky must be falling, it's amazing it can't possibly ever happen again event. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 12:01pm

    Typical

    While slightly more optimistic, this guy is very average in my experience with professional software and hardware engineers: they (usually) simply don't worry much about piracy (and, may I add, they tend to dislike DRM).

    Speaking personally, I can't say I agree with the statement that there's "no such thing" as a lost sale, but everything I've seen and heard leads me to believe that the number of lost sales is grossly overestimated by non-engineers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Chargone (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 2:13pm

      Re: Typical

      i'd argue it's only a lost sale when you actually, yourself, drive off a customer who would have bought from you otherwise.

      DRM causes a lot more of those than piracy, really.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 12:03pm

    Thanks For Posting This

    I saw him mention that he had talked about illegal copying, but he didn't elaborate on the subject and I was waiting to see what he had said, so thanks for posting this.

    I've seen a lot of discussions on the Minecraft forums about copying, and it's amazing to me the number of people who come forward to say that they copied the game initially, but then bought a copy for both themselves and a friend. Or the number of people who didn't ever buy a copy, but had three friends who learned about it through them that went on to buy copies.

    Treating ever copied game as a lost sale is ridiculously short-sighted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      fogbugzd (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:53pm

      Re: Thanks For Posting This

      >>that they copied the game initially, but then bought a copy for both themselves and a friend. Or the number of people who didn't ever buy a copy, but had three friends who learned about it through them that went on to buy copies.

      Every pirated copy is a test drive.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    nuffin, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 12:58pm

    Thinking of the 'lost sale' reminds me of selling tactics that would raise the price of something just to offer 'half off'...shady marketing

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    I met a guy living on the streets the other day that said space ships are coming. Because he said it, it must be true.

    Are they advanced enough to replicate spaceships at will? Or do agendas, politics, and notions of 'control' keep them from doing that? :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:41pm

    I am glad notch thinks this way. I pirated his game and I am not ashamed. I never cared for it that much, i tried the free version and it was meh. Then I pirated the full version and it amazed me. I ended up buying a copy for myself and 2 more gift copies for friends. I say piracy was actually the reverse of a lost sale.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Stever (profile), Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 1:45pm

    Notch's comments on Piracy

    Notch is firmly part of the PC/IT community. His ideas must be framed that way. What he is saying is pretty clear. Make your product easy to use, fun to keep using, cheap enough for everyone to buy and you do not have to concern yourself with any loss of revenue because you will just keep selling enough stuff to make continuing development worthwhile.
    He is very correct when he says Piracy is not a lost sale because chances are the non-paying user was not going to buy no matter what the price. At the same time they probably have amny other pirated copies of other software so that chances are they will not be taking much time with MineCraft anyway.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Ryan Diederich, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 4:05pm

    Oh I See What Happened....

    What really happened was, Minecraft became so popular, so fast, that there wasn't even enough time for an old and technologically impaired CEO to take hold of the place.


    This is how everything digital should be. Companies that dont understand are foolish. People buy what they like. Make them something they like and they will buy it.

    But if they dont have a way to find out that they like it, why would they ever?

    Minecraft is the antithesis to the record labels. While they claim lost jobs from piracy, minecraft boasts 70% of users pirated the game. Hes making 100 grand a day. Thats crazy money.

    Proof that pirace makes a product sell better, but only if you let it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 5:03pm

    I also like the way another game makers do.

    They just allow the fully functional game to be downloaded and played with. The downloaded version of game contains only the first chapter. If you like the games machanics and/or want to know how the story goes on, you can buy the additional chapters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    RD, Mar 3rd, 2011 @ 9:45pm

    Wrong quote

    "But it's impossible to make money because of "piracy" right? "

    Get it right Mike, its:

    "Its impossible to make money on FREE."

    At least, according to the industry shills, big media, hollywood, the music industry, the gaming industry, and anyone else who THINKS they are dependent on copyright to exist.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 5:12am

    Hell yeah I pirated the sh*t out of this game then bought it a month later, best purchase ever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 7:24am

    Of course pirates can cause lost sails, especially if they use chain shot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 8:02am

    I would be interested to read thoughtful comments that address various studies on this subject that appear in the recent article at Copyhype (http://www.copyhype.com/) entitled "How Much More Evidence".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 4th, 2011 @ 2:16pm

      Re:

      I would be interested to read thoughtful comments that address various studies on this subject that appear in the recent article at Copyhype (http://www.copyhype.com/) entitled "How Much More Evidence".

      Hart names two studies. Both paid for by the industry.

      He ignores the vast number of independent studies that show otherwise. He's also incorrect in his claims about music sales in Sweden. He should look at the latest data.

      But a bigger point, he still claims that there's such a thing as a "loss" without recognizing that a "loss" in this context is a *FAILURE* by the business. If you produce horse carriages and automobiles come on the market, it's your responsibility to give people a reason to buy what you have. That is, you adapt. The labels haven't done that. If there are any "losses" it's solely due to their own failure to adapt. And that's not disputable. We've seen repeatedly that artists who *embrace* new business models that involve free file sharing have DONE BETTER than they've done before.

      This proves -- without any possible retort -- that "piracy" does not, in fact, create lost sales. A failure to put in place a smart business model creates fewer than expected sales. That's it. We should not -- as you and Mr. Hart appear to want -- legislate a business model.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2011 @ 3:22pm

        Re: Re:

        Actually, he happens to name several that do not appear to be industry funded.

        Your one line dismissal of what is cited seems to be a bit of the mark.

        Life is much more nuanced than "copyright bad" and "piracy good" when viewed under the objective of an economic microscope.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2011 @ 4:54pm

    Have you tried downloading anything on Hotfile lately? Lots of "This file has been deleted" messages.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    mady, May 10th, 2011 @ 4:24pm

    minecraft

    I like Minecraft and I think it is very cool. I have some ideas that mite make minecraft more fun for everyone that play minecraft.
    I think you should add more kinds of weapons like spears or something like a gun, and you should add more mobs like a horse. That everyone could have 1-5 horse that one time and they could make a satble that they can make with leather. so they could ride the and feed it with wheat. You could find a horse in a group of 3-4 in a feld need some forest. You could have them catch a horse with a rope that they can make with leather to get the horse next to them and have a stable and put it on the horse. It make not work all the time to make it a little more hard to catch one.
    These are some thing that I think would make Minecraft more fun for everyone.
    Thanks
    Mady

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Bobby Samuel, Apr 28th, 2013 @ 5:14pm

    Free Minecraft Accounts

    Have you tried FPOs? http://zeketiki.wix.com/fpos
    They have a working minecraft account generator and a Battlefield 4 beta code generator. You guys should really check it out. It helped me a ton, I'm now playing minecraft with all my friends :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Demetrius, Jun 30th, 2013 @ 8:03am

    Comment

    I am impressed by the details that you’ve on this web site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This