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Notch on leaving Mojang: 'It's not about the money. It's about my sanity'

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This morning's confirmation of a massive deal for Microsoft to buy Minecraft-creator Mojang for $2.5 billion was only half of the story. The other half is what the game's creator Markus "Notch" Persson plans to do now that he's leaving the game he made and the studio he founded.

In a nutshell: Keep out of the limelight.

In a thoughtful post on his personal blog, Persson wrote about the impact of creating such a massively popular and influential game. About the power that delivers and the toll it takes.

"I don't see myself as a real game developer," he wrote. "I make games because it's fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don't make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don't try to change the world. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it's changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It's certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting."

Quite awhile ago, Persson handed off development of Minecraft to Jens Bergensten. Initially, his plans were to spend his time working on another game, to, as Persson writes, do new things.


"At first, I failed by trying to make something big again, but since I decided to just stick to small prototypes and interesting challenges, I've had so much fun with work," he wrote. "I wasn't exactly sure how I fit into Mojang where people did actual work, but since people said I was important for the culture, I stayed."

This thought seemed to begin to solidify into a desire to leave a few months back after fans attacked him publicly over a change in Minecraft's End User License Agreement (EULA) — which he writes he knew nothing about — and after watching the "This is Phil Fish" video on YouTube.

"[I] started to realize I didn't have the connection to my fans I thought I had," he wrote. "I've become a symbol. I don't want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don't understand, that I don't want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I'm not an entrepreneur. I'm not a CEO. I'm a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter."

When the $2.5 billion deal closes, Persson plans to go back to working on small experimental projects, including Ludum Dares game jams, and avoiding a repeat of Minecraft.

"If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I'll probably abandon it immediately," he wrote. "Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don't expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won't feel a responsibility to read them."

Above all, Persson seems to want people to know that he isn't the symbol some people want him to be, he's just a person "and I'm right there struggling with you."

"I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can't be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it's belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

"It's not about the money. It's about my sanity."