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Video gaming

Now you can be a Minecraft entrepreneur, not just a fan, as Mojang opens game up to customisation by developers

Unable to keep up with demand for new levels in the mega hit game, company behind it creates store where developers can sell their ‘mods’, and keep more than half what gamers pay for them

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 April, 2017, 8:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 April, 2017, 8:02pm

Microsoft subsidiary Mojang, the developer of the global phenomenon Minecraft, says it has what you might call a good problem: people want new Minecraft levels and items faster than it can build them.

So to close that gap, Mojang is launching the Minecraft Marketplace – a store where players can buy Minecraft customisation made by independent developers. It’s coming to Minecraft for smartphones and Windows 10 this spring, alongside the big “1.1 Discovery Update”.

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Once the Marketplace launches, players will be able to buy virtual Minecraft Coins for real money. Those coins can be spent in the Minecraft Marketplace on new levels, characters, textures, and other ways to customise the game. These items will be optional, and Mojang will still support the game with free content, says Minecraft Realms executive producer John Thornton.

These are no mere surface-level customerisations. At launch, custom levels will include pirate adventures, a time travel trip to historic London, and a quest across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Marketplace items will start at the equivalent of US$1.99, Thornton says, and the selection will be epic.

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But the best news is for independent developers, says Thornton, as Mojang plans to give developers “more than 50 per cent” of each purchase, he says, with Apple, Google, or Microsoft’s app stores getting their usual 30 per cent cut and Mojang taking the rest.

In other words, for the first time in the game’s history, there’s a clear path to becoming a Minecraft entrepreneur. You may scoff, but the competing Roblox has become a massive player-run economy in its own right.

James Delaney, the founder of well-established Minecraft modification (mod, in gaming parlance) and film studio (really) Blockworks, says the Minecraft Marketplace opens up “a new audience for us”.

While the PC and Mac versions of the game have supported modifications since launch, it’s tough to build a business that way: mods are tricky for most players to install, and Mojang itself institutes strict legal guidelines on how you can (and can’t) make money using Minecraft in an effort to preserve the quality of the game.

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Now Blockworks can offer premium Minecraft creations like “Automation Dreams” and “Scorching Sands” through a Mojang-approved store, directly to players, in a way that makes it easy for them to load up and play. Delaney calls it “a big step forward” for developers building businesses in Minecraft.