One year ago, Microsoft announced plans to make a business out of Minecraft content, with a Marketplace program that lets creators sell their own maps, mini-games, and aesthetic tweaks. Now, the company tells me it’s paid $7 million to Minecraft creators since the program launched last June. That’s up from $1 million in payouts as of last September, and it’s enough for several creators to have quit their day jobs to make Minecraft content full-time.
The Marketplace isn’t yet a meaningful business for Microsoft, which paid $2.5 billion to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang in 2013, but the company hopes it eventually will be. To that end, Microsoft plans to ramp up its number of creators–only 45 have received invites so far–and give them better tools. In an interview, Minecraft head Helen Chiang said Microsoft is even looking into scripting APIs that would let developers sell the kinds of powerful mods that only exist on the game’s PC Java versions today.
Still, Microsoft will face some hurdles as Marketplace grows. The company must avoid alienating its existing partners and its already-vibrant community of hobbyist modders, while also making sure the store remains safe for children.
Read my deep dive into the business of Minecraft content creation for more on how Microsoft will take on those challenges–and perhaps turn the marketplace into as big of a phenomenon as Minecraft itself.