Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson was asked at PAX last weekend why his game wasn't available on Steam in order to reach a wider audience. Upon returning home from the event, he re-answered the question in detail publicly on his personal blog, The Word of Notch.
Any game developer would love to have their title available to a wider audience, and that is exactly what Steam provides. Notch explains that Valve has produced the best digital distribution platform and goes on to quote several features that he is very fond of. But there is one major roadblock involved in bringing Minecraft to Steam, and it's a big one.
"Being on Steam limits a lot of what we're allowed to do with the game, and how we're allowed to talk to our users," Notch writes on his blog. "We (probably?) wouldn't be able to, say, sell capes or have a map market place on Minecraft.net that works with Steam customers in a way that keeps Valve happy. It would effectively split the Minecraft community into two parts, where only some of the players can access all of the weird content we want to add to the game."
Available in beta format on Minecraft.net since 2009, the immensely popular PC sandbox game was supposed to leave beta status on November 11, 2011 but that date has been pushed back. The game will also be coming to Xbox 360 this winter. The new version of the game, which doesn't have a name yet, will feature (but not require) Kinect support and be exclusive to the 360.
For those unfamiliar with the game, it consists of exploration, construction and survival. The world is made of different blocks, each of which is destructible, collectible and reusable in your own creations. Valuable materials are buried deep under the surface. Zombies and monsters spawn at night, introducing a combat element to the game.