Notch on Leaving Mojang: “It’s About My Sanity”

Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson, who just sold his company Mojang AB to Microsoft for US$2.5 billion, has revealed his reasons behind the sale. “It’s not about the money,” he explains, “It’s about my sanity.”

In a post on his website, the developer explains how his repeated attempts to step away from Minecraft drew the ire of the game’s fans, compelling him to sell his successful creation in an attempt to leave his Internet superstar status behind.

“I don’t see myself as a real game developer,” Persson begins. “I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.

“I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the Internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched this This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize that I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.”

Persson continues his explanation by saying that should he “ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, [he’ll] probably abandon it immediately.” He also explained that while some may view his departure as hypocritical given stances he’s taken in the past, especially his criticism of Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus, he’s not prepared to become a banner for others to rally behind. He’s his own person, and he has his own issues to deal with.

“I love you. All of you,” Persson concludes. “Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belong to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

“It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”