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Swedish indie game studio Mojang behind the “Still in Beta” PC game success story Minecraft hit 1 Million in sales last week. Over 10 000 games being sold daily for €14.95 ($20) each, with every third registered user converted into buying customer, 55% of them from the US, are sales figures that has made VCs’ heads spin.

Update March 3rd: Huge congrats! What a show off! Minecraft just won five awards out of six nominations! Two at IGF and three at GDCA #GDC11

6tfs

Photo credit @Kappische

The Game Development World Being Democratized

The sales figures itself is not the reason Mojang is being heavily courted, but it’s in combination with its disruptive nature in the game development world, what’s making VCs throwing money, and the largest game studios frequent visitors at Mojang. Devin Coldewey of CrunchGear explains well why Minecraft matters:

“The time has come when not only are the tools for creation available to the dedicated independent developer, but also the means of distribution and popularization. And with lower costs and personally motivated developers come not only lower prices but, some say, better games.”

Add highly engaged gaming community and fans with already over half a million uploaded Minecraft YouTube videos, 180 000 plus Facebook fans, full of activity and suggestions in the Get satisfaction community of over 17 000 people, and the Twitter follower counts of @carlmanneh @Kappische @notch @mollstam @JahKob @jeb_ & @jnkboy only keep counting up… (You can also follow the whole team on my Swedish Startups Twitter list)

Or how about a Minecraft tribute made by fans and fellow startup friends at Spotify. And then we haven’t even started to talk about all the creative stuff that’s been sent to the team by its fans. Hint: I’d look awesome in those t-shirts if only they were more of a becoming size.

Build Strong Relationships With The World’s Best Venture Firms

Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, and recent investor in SoundCloud, shared great advice on what to do when your startup gets hot and VC’s start throwing money at you, summarized in: Money is distraction if you don’t need it. Stay focused on the product and mission. For your own good, go read Fred’s entire advice.

Creator of Minecraft, Markus Persson, better known as Notch, has together with Carl Manneh and Jakob Porser, co-founders of game studio Mojang, been doing exactly that. In Markus’ own words:

 “I’d rather have it just be self-funded, because we can run the company we want. If we fail with a game it’s because we failed it, not because we had to rush it to meet a deadline.”

Mojang has now grown up to a team of seven, Markus also having recruited his former colleague Carl Manneh as the company CEO. Both Markus and Carl used to share workspace at Jalbum, Swedish startup with neat online web photo albums and high quality photo books.

Congrats_mojang

When VCs start calling you, instead of the other way around, you’re probably doing something good. Congrats! Thus, I thought it would be valuable for fellow entrepreneurs to have Carl share his best advice when getting caught in the eye of the tornado. Thanks Carl!

“Although it may be tempting to go the VC path where you actually are able to pay salaries and sit in a proper office, I strongly suggest to think twice. A VC commitment comes with a lot more than just the money. For good and for bad.” (Fred Wilson agrees: “Money is never free.”)

“You will need a strategy to handle the storm, otherwise you’ll risk losing focus and momentum. You really can’t afford that. Figure out what the driving factors are for you as an entrepreneur. Set the vision and the goals for the company. If your founding team is aligned in what you want to accomplish, routines will come more naturally. As a manager you need to make sure the routines protect your start-up from unnecessary interruption. Build a shelter for your team.”

“We see it as an opportunity to build strong relationships with the world’s best venture firms. When/if we do want to raise capital for Mojang or another venture in the future, we’ll probably know who to turn to first.”

The smart investors know that, and they are now helping out by giving advice and introducing Mojang to people in their network. The first result of that is soon to be announced Mojang advisory board including both world-class entrepreneurs and investors. For Mojang, it’s heads down and keep building. It’s not interested in scaling up fast or aiming for an exit, that would simply not support its vision: Build great games and attract a global audience with a small, agile team of brilliant people that moves quicker than the wind.

Follow The Minecraft Journey

Besides from Twitter, you can keep your eye on how Minecraft is coming along on the developer blog The Word of Notch and catch up with the team adventures and new games being developed on the Minecraft’s Dev Diary at PC Gamer. Would you be in San Francisco in February, you’ll have a chance to meet the entire team at Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCA) and Independent Games Festival (IGF). Minecraft has received three nominations at each awards, making it the first game ever to be both nominated for GDCA and IGF finalist in the same year. Minecraft is also nominated at Folkets Val 2011, Go give your vote!

Good luck guys, keep playing!

Mojang_gaming_fridays

Great gaming Friday at Mojang HQ.

Interview with Markus Persson in Swedish: Mångmiljonär på gör det själv-spel.

Paula is Digital Product Advisor and Top 100 Women in Tech in Europe, focusing on Product, Go-to-market, and Internationalization strategies. Rated as one of the very best startup mentors in Europe, she has to date mentored over 150 digital technology companies on product, marketing and growth. Pick My Brain! is her fixed price service tailored to early stage startups, gender wage gap adjusted for female founders. Contact Paula for digital strategy work or book her as keynote speaker about #Startups #WomenInTech #GenderEquality #Entrepreneurship. Read more about her work and connect @Twitter, @LinkedIn. “You never learn anything when you speak, only when you listen”Roelof Botha / Douglas Leone, Sequoia Capital