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The Best of Minecraft in 2014

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The Best of Minecraft in 2014

Since its launch in 2009 there hasn’t been a ‘small’ year for Minecraft. But 2014 draws a sharp spike on the activity graphs thanks to its enormity. This year was massive for Mojang and Minecraft: a year of genuine breakthroughs in the public consciousness, a year of protecting players from exploitative servers, and a year of still selling by the millions. 

Oh, and the year that Microsoft bought Minecraft for $2.5 billion. 

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Notch just bought a house

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Notch just bought a house

Notch has moved to Tracy Island, off of Thunderbirds. Or Franklin’s house in GTA V - the one with the infinity pool and the view over Los Santos. Those are the only two reference points we have for the ‘megamansion’ the cuddly Minecraft creator has bought for $70 million, much to the rumoured chagrin of rival would-be homeowners Beyonce and Jay-Z. It’s the highest price ever paid for a house in Beverly Hills.

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Garry Newman on Mojang sale to Microsoft: "I'd have done the same thing"

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Garry Newman on Mojang sale to Microsoft: "I'd have done the same thing"

The world watched as Microsoft bought Mojang for a country-floating $2.5 billion, and so did Garry ‘sMod’ Newman. But while the world at large mostly wailed and muttered dire warnings, the Rust mastermind decided that this is a deal in which “everyone wins".

“Long story short. I’d have done the same thing," he blogged. “The money is enough to very much take care of all the staff. The game is in relatively safe hands. Mojang’s legacy is as a huge success story instead of a one hit wonder.

“Can you seriously say you’d have done it differently?"

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Notch on selling Minecraft to Microsoft: “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity”

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Notch on selling Minecraft to Microsoft: “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity”

Notch and the other founders of Mojang are selling their studio and Minecraft to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. In a blog post announcing the sale, Mojang’s Owen Hill broke down the reasons for the sale, and in a separate post Notch has made his own reasons clear.

“It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity."

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Notch is back aboard the VR train: "I'm over being upset about Facebook buying Oculus"

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Notch is back aboard the VR train: "I'm over being upset about Facebook buying Oculus"

Mojang were in talks with Oculus to build a version of Minecraft for the Rift - right up until the VR company announced their acquisition by Facebook, and Notch publicly pulled the plug.

“I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook," explained the Mojang founder. “Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me."

Given a few months’ distance and an unending stream of brilliant VR demos, however, Notch has started to come around.

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There are now 15 million Minecrafts in the wild; Notch celebrates with energy drinks

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There are now 15 million Minecrafts in the wild; Notch celebrates with energy drinks

More than 15 million Minecrafts raised in captivity have now been successfully introduced into the wild, Notch announced this morning. Some of them were wide-open sandboxes when purchased half a decade ago, filled with potential and not much else. Others found their owners just this weekend, as fully-featured platforms for unbounded creativity and horse-riding.

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Mojang's cancelled Minecraft for the Oculus Rift was free and "designed to promote VR"

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Mojang's cancelled Minecraft for the Oculus Rift was free and "designed to promote VR"

Amid currently unfounded concerns that Facebook mean to turn Oculus inside out or stockpile all future Rifts for Zuckerberg’s personal use, one clear, tangible downside to the acquisition is beginning to emerge: we’re not getting a free, officially supported version of Minecraft to forward the cause of magic goggles. And that’s a bit sad.

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CCP will still release Eve: Valkyrie as a Rift launch title: "We're very excited for Oculus"

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CCP will still release Eve: Valkyrie as a Rift launch title: "We're very excited for Oculus"

For a long time, we worried that Eve: Valkyrie might not be destined for the Oculus Rift at all - CCP were cagey on the subject, and whispers of Sony’s own headset bounced around convention centres.

Now that developers are getting cold feed in the wake of Oculus’ Facebook deal, however, it’s CCP who are first to take the VR company’s corner.

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Notch kills possible Oculus deal in light of impending Facebook acquisition

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Notch kills possible Oculus deal in light of impending Facebook acquisition

The immediate reaction to Facebook’s plans to buy Oculus VR have been hostile to say the least. Hilariously, my Facebook feed is filled with venom: Facebook users condemning Facebook, claiming that it’s ruined yet another thing they liked. And it was as I was chuckling at those comments that I noted Notch weighing in on the matter. I’m not laughing as much now. 

A big deal like this was bound to rub some developers the wrong way, and the first victim is an Oculus Rift version of Minecraft. Mojang and Oculus VR were in talks, and now they are not. 

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Diamond dividends: Mojang's income more than doubled last year

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Diamond dividends: Mojang's income more than doubled last year

Mojang made 816 million ($128 million) Swedish kronor in 2013. That’s up from 326 million kronor the previous year.

It doesn’t quite match the figures of Candy Crush monarchs and former Notch employers King, who raked in $1.88 billion last year. But it’s worth remembering that King now employ 665 people, while Mojang is still a studio of 34 - promoting and updating a game now over five years old.

All 34 are now doing rather well for themselves.

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Block buster: Mojang "working with" Warner Bros on "potential" Minecraft movie

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Block buster: Mojang "working with" Warner Bros on "potential" Minecraft movie

I was in Tesco the other day. There, opposite the cookbooks, not so far from the grapes, hemmed in by sticker books, was the Minecraft Beginner’s Handbook. And it’s far too late to be surprised.

Minecraft is a cross-medium phenomenon, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Lego. Those aren’t simply names pulled out of the pop cultural rift - they’ll be Minecraft’s stablemates if Mojang’s talks with Warner Bros yield fruit.

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Minecraft has been sold to PC gamers on 14 million separate occasions

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Minecraft has been sold to PC gamers on 14 million separate occasions

Minecraft has now sold more than the Myst series. More than that, it's less than 350,000 copies away from riding into Red Dead Redemption’s town (on a 1.6.1 update horse, natch) and declaring the environs sufficiently cramped to merit a duel.

In terms of copies sold, it’s now about as valuable as Raving Rabbids is to Ubisoft, or Metroid is to Nintendo.

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Minecraft reaches the 13 million copies sold mark

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Minecraft reaches the 13 million copies sold mark

More than double the number of people living in Scotland now own Minecraft on PC. Crikey. That's a lot of abused chickens and exploding creepers. The blocky sandbox doesn't appear to be losing steam, selling a million copies over the last few months, making its early success in 2011 (and before during alpha and beta phases) not a very big deal in comparison. 

I attempted to relay this news to my flatmate and his son, who are rather big fans, but both of them were too busy doing weird things with lava and sheep, one on the PC and the other on the phone. Wait... there's shouting now. I believe zombies are attacking. I wish they'd be quiet, I'm trying to work.

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Watch Notch graduate to US talk shows

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Watch Notch graduate to US talk shows

There’s only a handful of rounded game development personalities who can be slotted into the square hole of showbusiness. Cliffy B used to don his leather pants and do the rounds on American TV couches, and Rockstar sent Laslow to conduct radio interviews for GTA V. But Notch? Notch was the introvert hidden under a fedora - right up until he walked through Craig Ferguson’s stage door last night.

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Notch on 0x10c and the future of Mojang; "We could just do prototypes and see what sticks"

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Notch on 0x10c and the future of Mojang; "We could just do prototypes and see what sticks"

It’s tempting to say that Mojang’s fans are working on more of their games than they are. Last year’s 60-hour MoJam game, Catacomb Snatch, spawned its own ongoing community project. And no sooner had Notch dropped programming-in-space game 0x10c than it was picked back up by his fans.

Now Notch hammers out tiny Unity experiments like Drop and Shambles, while the rest of the studio plugs away at Scrolls. And to hear the formerly fedora’d man talk at last weekend's Minecon, experimental is how it’s going to stay.

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Minecraft has been sold 12 million times on PC, Mac and Linux

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Minecraft has been sold 12 million times on PC, Mac and Linux

I hereby call for the introduction of a Sense of Perspective Server: an impossible, persistent Minecraft world in which we all gather once a month just to hammer home precisely how many people are playing, have played and have serious plans to play Notch’s albatross.

Why? Because 12 million is a number so large as to be utterly meaningless, rolling immediately off the tongue and down the back of your brain, never to be seen again. Mojang might as well replace the counter on their stats page with a box that reads: “301+".

In lieu of the server, let’s find a couple of half-decent points of comparison.

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Notch mothballs 0x10c; community team resolve to build it themselves

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Notch mothballs 0x10c; community team resolve to build it themselves

Notch put 0x10c on ice in April, citing a creative block - and it’s languished there in the freezer ever since, sharing shelf space with some neglected block of chicken now resembling White Walker meat. The man at Mojang this week confirmed that he has no plans to do anything with his space-and-16-bit-PCs sim, in a glum non-announcement that had the much more positive side effect of spurring a handful of community developers into action.

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