It's a simple PC game that has become a pop-culture phenomenon around the world. "Minecraft," created entirely by Markus Persson, better known in the gaming world as "Notch," has almost 9 million downloads, with more than one-fourth of those as paid premium versions, and it's still in beta. The game costs 14.95 euros, or about $21. "Minecraft" has more than 850,000 Facebook fans, and Mr. Persson himself has more than 186,000 Twitter followers. What is it about the game that's so fascinating? While simple looking -- the entire world is made up of chunky small blocks -- it's also extremely creative. Players build up their block worlds of imaginary building or shelters with tools they create while fighting off the bad things that come out in the night.
Mr. Persson himself seems less interested in filling his wallet than indulging his passion for game making. He's been programming games since age 8 and created games such as "Funny Farm," "Luxor," and "Carnival Shootout" for other developers before beginning work on "Minecraft" in 2009. And in his determination to remain independent, Mr. Persson has also re-inspired the indie gaming industry. A Kokatu blog post early this year suggested that "Minecraft" is so popular because gamers, while they like the game, love the idea that a simple non-console game without a big-name developer or giant ad budget can still be a big hit.