April 5, 2013 at 4:30 PM ET
"Minecraft," the independent video game marvel that allows players to build their own worlds out of Lego-like 3D blocks, is a game about endless expansion. Gamers can create buildings, characters, and stories seemingly out of thing air (with the help of a console, of course), and even host their own servers to better manage virtual environments between them and their friends.
Turns out, "Minecraft's" world is expanding in more ways than one. Developer Mojang studios announced today that its runaway hit has reached 10 million sales on computers alone. And while this number is impressive in its own right, it doesn't even reflect the full extent of "Minecraft's" unprecedented growth since the game was first released as a raw alpha version nearly four years ago. Since then, the game has also been ported to Microsoft's Xbox 360 as well as Android and iOS mobile devices for a "Pocket Edition."
This is the latest example of Mojang proving that there is a viable alternative to the AAA game industry for independent developers. Much like the recent incarnation of MOBAs as an enormously profitable type of PC gaming, "Minecraft" has shown the financial and cultural promise of a thriving indie scene. Just last year, Mojang said that it would double its profits based on sales of "Minecraft" alone. When the game first debuted on Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), it broke all of the app store's sales records, reaching 400,000 sales in just 24 hours. For a point of comparison, Activision's commercial juggernaut "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2" sold some 7.5 million copies in its first month on the market last year, according to figures from the market research group NPD.
Making good on a promise to give players a hint of what's to come in the world of "Minecraft" in its next update once the game reached 10 million sales, the game's head developer Jens Bergensten posted a picture of a horse on Twitter late last night. Does this mean that "Minecraft" players will soon to be able to recreate "All The Pretty Horses"—or, better yet, the "Ride of the Rohirrim" from "Lord of The Rings?" Probably. But the real beauty of "Minecraft" for its many fans is that the game lets them create pretty much whatever they want, so the real promise of "Minecraft" horses is probably best left to the imagination until the chunkily pixelated creatures are put into the game world for all to experiment with.
The Xbox 360 version of the game also recently added a new area known as "The End," along with several updates promised to make the console version of "Minecraft" more similar to the free-for-all nature of the PC version. The company also announced recently a subscription-based service known as "Minecraft Realms," which was designed to provide "a safe and easy way for kids and families to play 'Minecraft' online," according to a statement from Mojang CEO Carl Manneh given to the website Game Industry.