We were all Nolan Bushnell's "Neon Lovechild" in the 70s. It was different back then.
Only months after Minecraft was first released onto the world as its 2010 alpha, Mojang Studios hired its first employee, Daniel Kaplan. In the seven years since, Minecraft has changed in immense ways but Kaplan still stuck around. Kaplan waxes poetically when speaking to Gamesindustry.biz about his reason for leaving and his new job leading the new publishing arm of Goat Simulator developer Coffee Stain Studios. He talks about the early days of Mojang and how the company’s founder, Markus “Notch” Persson, wanted to create a place where independent developers could come and create. Years later when Mojang and Minecraft were sold to Microsoft, Kaplan stayed with the company.
“It’s very emotional…it was hard to come to this conclusion. Minecraft has been great. It’s still Minecraft, we’re still doing cool stuff with Minecraft, but I wanted to explore other ideas as well.”
It’s clear Kaplan hoped Minecraft wouldn’t be the only future he and Mojang would have. His departure to an independent studio, specifically to publish new games, seems to be the direction he’s always envisioned for himself.
Kaplan’s departure puts Mojang and Minecraft’s future into a stark light. Obviously the Minecraft property is strong and will continue to make money for Mojang and Microsoft. However if Mojang only exists to update Minecraft, and Minecraft only exists to cash in on its own popularity, what kind of future does it really have?