20m sales and counting – indie hit Minecraft is one of the most remarkable successes in the history of gaming.
But there’s a flip-side to these accomplishments. How on earth do you follow-up one of the most successful games ever made?
“I definitely think Minecraft is a freak thing,” he told The New Yorker. “There’s no way you could replicate it intentionally.
“And yes, I’m starting to feel writer’s block as a result. I’m not sure if it’s pressure to repeat… Actually, it is the pressure to repeat. And with Minecraft it was just easier, because nobody knew who I was.
“Now I post a new idea and millions of people scrutinize it. There’s a conflict between the joy of being able to do whatever I want and the remarkable pressure of a watching world. I don’t know how to switch it off.”
The full interview paints the picture of a humble man who perhaps could veer toward the edge of reason were the pressure he was under to get on top of him. Indeed, the suicide of his father in 2011 cemented Persson’s determination to stay healthy, stay social and remain creative.
“I’ve never run a company before and I don’t want to feel like a boss,” he added. “I just want to turn up and do my work.”
And there are actions to back up these words. In 2011 Persson earned a £2.2m dividend. Which he then divided up amongst his employees.
“The money is a strange one. I’m slowly getting used to it, but it’s a Swedish trait that we’re not supposed to be proud of what we’ve done. We’re supposed to be modest,” he explained.
“So at first, I had a really hard time spending any of the profits. Also, what if the game stopped selling? But after a while, I thought about all of the things I’d wanted to do before I had money. So I introduced a rule: I’m allowed to spend half of anything I make. That way I will never be broke. Even if I spend extravagant amounts of money, I will still have extravagant amounts of money.”