How does Notch sell minecraft?

While the question of how to sell games has been asked many times; I decided to ask it a different way. Mostly people ask how/where do I sell my game made in blender, but noone addresses the issues of updating the game or future additions. Steam is used frequently as an answer, but there are few tutorials on how to actually get a game on steam. Even if you contact the site admins, they may refuse to allow your game. People should not be directed to unfeasible or difficult options, they should have a whole host of options at their disposal. How difficult is it to setup your own website to sell a game? Is there a way to use a blog like blogger or wordpress? How would you determine if someone bought the game and can download updates? How do you keep track of logins?

Hopefully someone can answer my questions.

Sure, if you have some experience you can sell the games in a shop (shopsoftware) or on a website (drupal?) using services like paypal and custom account for the customers (database with information, updates, patches …)

Also maybe an installer downloading the newest version makes much sense (izpack) or using it as a patcher / updater …

Notch had his own little online shop, selling via paypal and CC processing, has his own server hosting user accounts and the client/server downloads.
Now he has a bigger online shop with a unified Mojang account management system where you can buy game licenses and download the binaries.

Building a small shop with a CMS like Joomla, Drupal or Typo3 is childsplay really compared to the accountancy, legal and other financial stuff you got to handle.

I hate legalese. What legal, financial, and accounting stuff do I have to handle? If I know now I can prepare for it later.

There are a lot of online shops used by indie developers. That may be the best way to go not just because of the logistics but also advertising and having it on the virtual shelf for the browsing. That would free up more time for service and development. Notch’s way is an uncommon success story and might prove to be a risky model.

Well a short checklist I’d go over would be:

  • make sure nothing you do is trademarked before you start.
  • nothing you use is copyrighted
  • nothing you use has any royalte fees on it
  • find out how much revenue and profit you are allowed to make in your country that is taxfree
  • if you got public health insurance in your country check out if you got to pay your own fees when “opening business”
  • check out if you need to register a business in your country to be allowed to sell software or whatever.
  • check out if you can safe on any taxes when having your own business :wink:
  • find out what duties you got towards your customers (support, duration of download offer, licensing…)
  • find out what level of bookkeeping you need. I guess a minimum is to have invoices for all sales and consecutive order numbers so your revenue can be traced if your profit goes towards a taxable sum - else the finance will just guess and slap a tax on you along with a penalty.

Here in Austria we got the “AK” the “Arbeiterkammer” where you get free consultancy and help on a lot of stuff - consumerism, legal help if your employer goes bankrupt or doesn’t pay or simply business and corporate consultancy, and we regularily have conventions for creating a startup or founding an “Ich-AG” which literally means “I-stock-corporation” which is an odd business model where you are your company, boss and employee all in one.

I am certain there are some public services available to you as well where you can get legal advice… maybe even for free. Sometimes socialism is great :wink:

I live in America, nothing is tax-free unless you are super-rich. Blonder, I know about steam, but what other online shops are out there? Arexma, Thanks for the information. Austria sounds like a nice place with regards to businesses.

Amazing. PlanetKiller you are thinking ahead. I would say it is a good thinking.

A lot of “wannabe” game developers come in and say “I have a great idea for a game. It is the greatest idea at this universe!”

The next question depends on the motivation:

  • “Where is the million dollar check my idea is worth for?”
  • "Where is the ‘make my game’ button to create an app for IPhone/IPad/Cinema trailer?
  • “Who want to make my game?”
  • “Who want to join my project (details are secret as I do not trust you)?”
  • “How can I do car, main menu, gun?”
  • “Why does no one answers my thread?”

If some one is really looking to make money with the game:
-“How can I protect my game content?”
-“How about licenses?”
-“How to sell?”

While the first to questions a quite technical and valid questions, the last one is like (who want to make MY game?).

Welcome to the business pipeline!

As each other business you should make a business plan. If you can’t look for professional advice. A partner could bring in this knowledge.
In difference to the common “million dollar idea”, the millions do not come from the idea. The millions come from a serious business around the idea.

As I’m not that far in the business here some steps I can see at industry (not specific to games):
A) find something you can sell (= find the idea)
B) find someone who can convert your idea into a product (this is a long lasting and expensive step)
C) Find someone who sells the product to someone who is willing to spend money on the product.

If you look at this game development is only part of B). Why just a part? Because you need more than a game. You need the infrastructure (shops, server, packing machines etc.). You need to manage the development (accounting, managing, hiring etc.).

You see there is really a lot of things to do around the game.

What options do you have?

  • do it all alone
  • find fitting partners (I do not mean other game developers, I mean, sales man, manager, accountants, lawyers)
  • outsource parts of the business process (e.g. look for a distributor)

This are just me thoughts.

BTW. Some years ago I found an article regarding game development and game development business. Unfortunately I can’t find it right now.

I’d do some research on which ones the indie developers are partial to.

While I know it is hard doing all of this stuff on my own, if there are any screw-ups I at least know where I live. Thanks for the info people.

ModDb publishes direct to Desura, that is the most likely venue I will try if nothing looks better.