Notch On Mojang Departure: ‘It’s About My Sanity’

by Mike Futter on Sep 15, 2014 at 03:51 AM

Now that Microsoft’s acquisition of Mojang is confirmed, the way forward for the studio and its founders is starting to come into focus. Since the announcement just a bit ago, we’ve known that Markus “Notch” Persson, the creator of Minecraft, is leaving the studio.

In a statement on his personal blog, Notch explains the reasons for his departure. Among them, he cites a recent incident about an end user license agreement with which he had no part.

"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," he writes. "I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize 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."

Notch says he’ll be leaving once the deal is finalized and return to smaller experiments and Ludum Dares. And if he stumbles upon another hit? We might never see it.

“If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately,” he writes. “Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.”

Notch stepped away from leading the Minecraft project in December 2011, but he is still seen by many as the face behind the blocky phenom. Along with Notch, Mojang co-founder Carl Manneh will also be leaving.

Notch closes with a promise to fans. "It's not about the money," he writes. "It's about my sanity."



Our Take
This is an emotional goodbye from someone who stumbled into fame. In all of my interactions with Notch, he’s been open and genuine. I hope he finds the peace and quiet he is looking for in his return to tinkering with experimental ideas. Public life can wear on a person, and it’s no surprise that the enormous success of Minecraft has brought with it anonymous anger directed at a man who just wants to create.