Minecraft, a blockbuster thanks to Word-of-Mouth?


As we could see in this weeks readings, “[…] firms increasingly rely on “network” and “viral” marketing strategies” (Hill et al. 2006, Manchanda et al. 2008, Nam et al. 2010, Retrieved from Aral, & Walker, 2011) in order to drive the product adoption and sales. So basically, the attention is paid on how to make products viral using marketing strategies and campaigns instead of how to design products that can turn  themselves viral (Aral, & Walker, 2011). So I was thinking of a good example of a product that went viral without using any marketing and what came to my mind was Minecraft.

Probably most of you heard or even played Minecraft, but for those who don’t know, it is a sandbox indie game that has its unique look of everything being boxy and sharp. It is not one of those high-profile games with sick graphics and real-life feeling to them. So how is it possible that a game that is not made to be perfect and not made to be fully marketed has earned its huge worldwide success?

While trying to answer this question, I came across a couple interesting articles (Minecraft, the worlds most successful casual game, Why Minecraft is so popular) which all showed some different aspects of the game that made it a blockbuster. However, the one that interested me the most was the fact, that word-of-mouth was one of the factors that facilitated the popularity of the game. So how is it possible that the game became so successful having no advertising/marketing budget, using only word-of mouth? Well I do not think this strategy from the side of the company was on purpose. Minecraft community is fairly tight, anybody can play the game, old/young, gamers/non-gamers. Thus, the whole platform is fueled by people, their engagement, so word-of mouth becomes something natural.

It is only to be discovered why exactly this works. What do you think? Do you know of any other platforms that use this strategy (on purpose or not)?

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One thought on “Minecraft, a blockbuster thanks to Word-of-Mouth?

  1. Minecraft really resembles playing with lego, but transcends it by providing the option to make it a social experience. A very important aspect which led to MineCraft getting such a strong boost, however, is that it came out at the time that indie game development was really put into the spotlight. It came out around the same time as other indie gems such as Super Meat Boy, Braid, and Limbo which both were all commercial. This really put indie games in the spotlight at the time and more and more games were starting to find these gems. That Indie games were being put in the spotlight was really noticeable when I attended the Game Developers Conference of 2011 in San Francisco.

    The biggest fault in the article is that it defines Minecraft as a casual and an indie game. During the conference Markus Persson won 2 awards as an Indie Game and 3 awards in the normal game category, competing with games such as Red Dead Redemption and Mass Effect 2. This really showed that the games industry themselves do not know where to place Minecraft, as game as Markus Persson said himself in one of his 5 award speeches. Minecraft is both a hardcore game as well as a casual game and both at the same time an indie game as well as a normal game.

    The attributes the biggest part of its success to its great game design and indie games being put in the spotlight. Because of this it was able to manage to attract so many people that it actually started developing a community around which turned Minecraft in the smash hit it is today.

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