Notch: trying to follow Minecraft could prove "pointless and hollow"

Markus Persson on coming to terms with fame, fortune and an uncertain future.

Minecraft creator Markus 'Notch' Persson worries that attempting to match the huge success of his world-building indie phenomenon could prove "pointless and hollow".

Speaking to Eurogamer at GDC in San Francisco last week, Notch voiced fears that his career has already peaked and he'll never come close to topping his breakout hit.

"It kind of feels like the level of cultural impact that Minecraft has had will be very difficult to replicate," he said.

"It kind of feels like whatever I do next is never going to be as big. I'm kind of worried about everything feeling a bit pointless and hollow compared to the success of Minecraft.

"But I haven't started on a large project since. Hopefully I won't care. What I really want to do is programme. I want to be a programmer. So hopefully I can just focus on that aspect of it," he added cheerfully.

The 32-year-old Swedish programmer and Mojang boss went on to ponder whether he would rather Minecraft's success had arrived at the end of his career instead of at the beginning

"Honestly, it would have been more fun to have the Minecraft success in 15 years rather than have it as I just started to do my own thing. Because it's going to be anti-climactic. It's a bit strange because the narrative - we have the big hit up front and just try to replicate it - it becomes a bit sad.

"You make a huge hit and then you sit around making smaller games - it's a sad narrative."

Though he's currently working on a number of "tiny little hobby projects", Notch hasn't yet confirmed what his proper follow-up to Minecraft will be.

"This summer I'm probably going to start something new," he explained.

"I'm not sure which one. I really want to do a space game. Elite, but like... really focus on the personality of the ship. I haven't picked which game to make but it would be cool to do that one."

He added that he isn't interested in making something "really esoteric and weird and that speaks to the human soul".

"I don't want to go weird, I just want to make fun games."

Elsewhere during the interview, Notch gave us a little insight into how the fame and fortune that Minecraft has afforded him has affected his day-to-day life.

"The core is the same. I have drinks with my friends, play computer games and programme. That's what I've always done and that's what I keep doing," he insisted.

"But we have a fancy apartment and we can go on better trips and things like that.

"But I still don't have a driver's license! In Stockholm you don't really need one. I do kind of hope to get one at some point, but I've been thinking that for about 10 years."

And is it strange suddenly coming into such a huge amount of money?

"It was at first. You get used to it surprisingly fast though, which is a bit worrying," he explained.

"If you go grocery shopping you don't really pay attention to what it costs, which is a weird transition. And it's a bit worrying as you don't want to get spoiled.

"Sometimes I'll take friends drinking somewhere that is a bit too expensive for them and I don't realise. And I want to pay for it and it gets socially awkward if I do. It's a bit weird having money with friends because you want to pay for stuff because you just want to have a good time, but it gets weird if you do that too much."

And what about your family? How do your parents view your success?

"I think they like it. Yeah, I think they do," he replied.

"They were a bit worried about the social consequences. They were really careful not to be perceived as wanting to take part of the success. They were like 'we still love you no matter what happens'. But that was when it was taking off, I think it's fine now."

Notch also touched on what it's like to have almost every word he says on record scrutinised on Twitter, Reddit and in the gaming press at large.

"I don't mind it. It's pretty fun. I don't really look for attention so when people accuse me of being an attention whore or whatever it feels a bit weird, so sometimes I'm a bit wary that people think I'll do anything just to get headlines. I try to be honest on Twitter and just talk about whatever I think about."

As was evident in the curious stares and reverent whisperings of passers-by in the GDC convention centre where we meet, Notch is currently one of the most recognisable figures in the entire gaming industry. The Minecraft creator insisted that he enjoys the attention - for now.

"It would be fun to be anonymous. I'm kind of expecting this thing to last a couple of years then perhaps I can shave off the beard and lose some weight and people will stop recognising me.

"That would be fun. I love talking to Minecraft players so I wouldn't want to just disappear but it would be fun to start over anonymously."

At the time of writing, Minecraft has over 25 million users, 5.2 million of which have bought the full game.

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