This week I had an opportunity to talk with Carl Manneh, the CEO for Mojang, which is the studio behind the worldwide gaming phenomenon Minecraft.
Manneh - one of Mojang’s three original founders - and I discussed a wide variety of topics, ranging from the surging success Minecraft has had of late in the mobile category, the negotiations with Lego to create the hugely popular Lego Minecraft set, and the continuing discussions about making a Minecraft movie and TV show.
Below are some of the highlights:
According to Manneh, mobile is now the fastest growing category for Minecraft. He indicated that the company has sold 5 million copies on mobile, which includes iOS and Android versions. He also talked about how, in 2012, he expects the company to reach $200 million in revenue for the year.
Lego Minecraft Version “One of first conversations we had”
I wrote recently about my challenges finding what is turning out to be the hottest toy of this holiday season in LEGO Minecraft, and according to Manneh, they saw the potential from the beginning.
"It was one of the first conversations we had when we formed the company," said Manneh. "Basically the first thing Markus, or Notch (the creator of Minecraft) said to me was ‘you should get in touch with LEGO and we should do something together’."
Manneh discussed how when he first approached LEGO, it was only 2010 and the he had to navigate the gaming giant’s “firewalls”. But when he finally got into the room with the right people, it was a slam dunk.
"All of the people we met had kids that played Minecraft, so they knew of us and saw that there was a great overlap. It was not a hard pitch once we got through to them."
I asked Manneh if he knew of the number of LEGO Minecraft sets, and he said he could not disclose. He did say, however, they had anticipated that the first run of the sets would last past Christmas, and that they sold out the first month.
When I asked him if they were planning on doing a new LEGO Minecraft set, he indicated there is interest from Mojang side, thought nothing has been confirmed at this point.
Ongoing Discussions About Minecraft Movie and TV
I asked Manneh if there were any conversations about making a Minecraft movie or TV show, and he indicated there have been some discussions.
He cautioned that while they are being very careful with the company’s intellectual property so as not to “sell out the brand,” and that any movie interpretation would require “a lot of creative control” so it stayed true to the Minecraft brand, he indicated there were ongoing discussions about the topic.
While Manneh could not commit to whether there would be a movie or TV adaptation, he did say “personally I think it would be a lot of fun.”
Minecraft in Education
Mojang saw early on there was a natural fit between Minecraft and education, but has even they have been surprised by the strong efforts by many in the education market to bring the game into schools as a teaching tool.
Manneh indicated they’ve been supportive of all of these efforts, including working closely with outfits like MinecraftEDU, which created a mod specifically for the education market. According to Manneh, over 500 thousand students are now using the MinecraftEDU mod.
Supporting the Mods
When I told Manneh about how my son was using a Minecraft mod in Tekkit, he talked about Mojang’s stance of the mod community when he talked about working closely wiht the team that created the Bukkit mod and API.
"There was one group called Bukkit that made an unofficial API for Minecraft that became the goto API for most of the mods. That group was so successful that we thought when we were building our own API that who could do it better than these guys? That says a lot about our policy. While other companies would probably sue them, instead we hired them."
A Mojang Minecraft Online Hosting Service in 2013
When I asked Manneh what was in store for 2013, he indicated Mojang is looking to build its own Minecraft hosting service. Today the main way for Minecraft players to host is to use third party hosting services, and that since Mojang hears from so many parents requesting Monang to create an easier option for an online server, they are planning to do just that in 2013.