After many months of Minecraft being absent from Steam, the creator of Minecraft and founder of its company Mojang Specifications, Notch, has finally explained why.
Undoubtedly plagued by this question before, Notch answered this question for the first time at PAX, and has now published it on his blog, The Word of Notch.
Before giving his answer, he prefaces it with an assurance that he himself uses Steam, saying it is “the best digital distribution platform I’ve ever seen,” and that “I’ve spent incredible amounts of money on it, and I own a crazy amount of games on it.”
This may dispel any speculation people had over a possible argument with those at Steam, which was not altogether unfounded speculation; why wouldn’t the likely the most popular indie game of all time be featured on arguably the best indie game platform of all time?
For Notch, though, putting Minecraft on Steam would limit what they can do with the game, as well as how they communicate with users. The example Notch gives is that they probably wouldn’t be able to “sell capes or have a map market place on minecraft.net that works with steam customers in a way that keeps Valve happy.” He says this would potentially split the Minecraft community into two, blocking half from new game features.
To illustrate the point about user communication, at the moment, you can access Minecraft either via an exe file which launches its own window, with its own “update news” pre-game section, or you can access it via your browser at minecraft.net. Both of these expose you to news and community links for the game and both require a login.
Essentially, Notch wants to be able to maintain a certain level of control over how people play Minecraft, how they find out news about it and the features that can be added over time. As Notch says, “there’s a certain inherent incompatibility between what we want to do and what they want to do”.
To those hoping for an eventual appearance on Steam, however, there might still be hope, as concerning possible new features and the splitting of the community, Notch says “we are talking to Valve about this”.
Still technically in its beta phase, perhaps its eventual release in November may bring us closer to some kind of cooperation between Steam’s Valve and the Minecraft developers, Mojang, though try not to be too disappointed if nothing ever happens.