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?

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Minecraft Creator Says 'No Such Thing As A Lost Sale'”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: 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?

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: 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!


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

freak (profile) says:

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.

Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) (user link) says:


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.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Stever (profile) says:

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.

Ryan Diederich says:

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.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: 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.

mady says:


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.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop ยป

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...