Today, Minecraft and Microsoft have announced the Marketplace: A store that will sell third-party creations for real money. The Marketplace will include "adventure maps, texture packs, minigames and more." According to the announcement post:
The idea is to give Minecraft creators another way to make a living from the game, allowing them to support themselves in the creation of ever-greater projects, while giving Pocket and Windows 10 players access to a growing catalogue of fun stuff - curated and supplied by us, safely and simply. And, of course, you can still manually download free community creations you’ve found out there on the internet, too.
According to a report by Polygon, third party content creators will receive at least 50% of the profit on their curated items.
Minecraft isn't the first game title to monetize third-party creations. The Valve Corporation has been doing it for years. Though the company was made famous through games such as Half-Life, Counter Strike, Portal, and Left 4 Dead, Valve seems to have transitioned the majority of its business model to third-party support. Valve's Steam is a digital distribution platform for PC games, Team Fortress 2 allowed third parties to sell cosmetic items for real money, and Dota 2 does the same.
Where Minecraft is concerned, directly supporting third-party creators seems the obvious path to take. The modding community for Minecraft has existed for as long as the game itself has existed, with said mods ranging from minor cosmetic changes to full overhauls of the game. To work around the inherent clunkiness of installing Minecraft mods, creators have long gathered together to create full mod packs with their own third-party game launcher.
Minecraft hasn't remained a cultural phenomenon based on the quality of the game alone. When even the most diehard Minecraft fans get bored, all they need to do is install a new set of mods to change their gameplay completely. While many YouTubers rose to prominence playing Minecraft, rare is the YouTuber who still plays the base game. Modded Minecraft is the way to go—and many YouTubers focus specifically on featuring the best mods around to keep things fresh.
The community itself has created Minecraft's longevity (and, perhaps, its popularity). It only makes sense for Microsoft to support that community—curating content from the best third-party creators, exposing new fans to what those creators have to offer, and offering those creators compensation for their work. This will hopefully inspire players to continue creating great Minecraft content.
This is certainly easier than mod makers hoping and praying for donations from kind-hearted souls. And, of course, Microsoft gets a cut of the profits, too.
Minecraft's Marketplace seems to be a win for everyone. If you want to stick to free mods and content, you can still do that, seeking it out at the usual places. If you want to support these creators, you now have an easier way to do so. Considering Minecraft is one of the best-selling games of all time, these third-party creators making a living off of mods and adventure packs might actually be a realistic endeavor.
Currently, the Marketplace is directed specifically at the Pocket and Windows 10 versions of the game. Whether or not the Marketplace will eventually reach other platforms is currently unknown. In the case of the Pocket edition, the mobile platform has never had mods at all, meaning the Marketplace will be their first introduction.
The Marketplace will enter a limited closed beta on the Android platform mid-April, but has no scheduled release date at this time. For more information, the developers will be holding an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit Thursday, 20 April, from 9am - 12pm PST.