Markus Alexej Persson (born 1 June 1979), also known as Notch or xNotch, is a Swedish video game programmer and designer who founded the video game company Mojang alongside Carl Manneh and Jakob Porser in late 2010.
Persson's principal venture for founding Mojang was Minecraft, a first-person sandbox video game that has gained popularity and support since its tech demo in 2009. Since the release of Minecraft, Persson has gained significant notability within the video game industry, having won multiple awards and establishing relations with the industry's figureheads. Persson retained his position as the lead designer of Minecraft until the game's official launch in 2011, after which he transferred creative authority to Jens Bergensten. In November 2014, he left Mojang after its acquisition by Microsoft.
Persson was born in Stockholm, Sweden, to a Finnish mother and a Swedish father on 1 June 1979. He lived in Edsbyn for the first seven years of his life before his family moved back to Stockholm. He began programming on his father's Commodore 128 home computer at the age of seven. Having experimented with various type-in programs he produced his first game at the age of eight, a text-based adventure game. Professionally he had worked as a game developer for King.com for over four years, until 2009. Afterwards he worked as a programmer for Jalbum. He is also one of the founders of Wurm Online, although he no longer works on this game. Outside of work, he has made seven games for competitions. He is the central figure of a documentary by 2 Player Productions about the rise of Minecraft and Mojang called Minecraft: The Story of Mojang.
Persson's most popular creation is the survival sandbox game Minecraft, which was released on 18 November 2011. Persson left his job as a game developer to work on Minecraft full-time until completion. In early 2011, Mojang AB sold their one millionth copy of the game, several months later their second, and several more their third. Mojang hired several new staff members for the Minecraft team, while Persson passed the lead developer role to Jens Bergensten. A version for Android and iOS called Pocket Edition has also been released. An Xbox 360 edition of Minecraft was released on 9 May 2012. The Xbox edition also features certain new updates including a tutorial and skin packs. None of the editions offer cross-platform play, and each require different dedicated server versions. He has stopped working on Minecraft after a deal with Microsoft to sell Mojang for $2.5 billion.
Persson and Jakob Porsér came up with the idea for Scrolls including elements from board games and collectible card games. Persson noted that he will not be actively involved in development of the game and that Porsér will be developing it. Persson revealed on his tumblr blog on 5 August 2011 that he was being sued by a Swedish law firm representing Bethesda Softworks over the trademarked name of Scrolls, claiming that it conflicted with their The Elder Scrolls series of games. On 17 August 2011, Persson challenged Bethesda to a Quake 3 tournament to decide the outcome of the naming dispute. On 27 September 2011, Persson confirmed that the lawsuit was going to court. ZeniMax Media, owner of Bethesda Softworks, announced the lawsuit’s settlement in March 2012. The settlement allowed Mojang to continue using the Scrolls trademark.
Following the end to his involvement with Minecraft, Persson began pre-production of an alternate reality space game set in the distant future in March 2012. On April Fools' Day, Mojang launched a satirical website for Mars Effect (parody of Mass Effect), citing the lawsuit with Bethesda as an inspiration. However, the gameplay elements remained true and on 4 April, Mojang revealed 0x10c (pronounced Ten to the C) as a space sandbox title. Persson officially halted game production in August 2013, however C418, the composer of the games soundtrack (as well as that of Minecraft), released an album of the work he had made for the game.
Ludum Dare entries
Persson has also participated in several Ludum Dare 48-hour game making competitions.
Breaking the Tower
Breaking the Tower was a game Persson developed for the entry to the Ludum Dare No. 12 competition. The game takes place on a small island, where the player must gather resources, construct buildings, and train soldiers in order to destroy a large tower on this island. The game received brief gaming media attention.
Metagun is a 2D platformer created for Ludum Dare no. 18.
Prelude of the Chambered
Prelude of the Chambered is a game Persson developed for the entry to the Ludum Dare No. 21 competition. Prelude of the Chambered is a short first-person dungeon crawler video game.
On 13 August 2011, Persson married Elin Zetterstrand, who goes by the nickname "Ez" in the Minecraft community. On 15 August 2012, he announced that he was now single.
Persson has criticized both piracy as well as the stance of large game companies on piracy and he is a member of the Swedish Pirate Party. Persson is an atheist, and cited his theological and moral views as one of the principal donors to Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) during the Thanksgiving charity event of 2011. Under his direction, Mojang contributed a week to developing Catacomb Snatch for the Humble Bundle Mojam, for which the $458,248 raised would be donated to charity.
In May 2012, Persson expressed his views towards Electronic Arts and their release of the "Indie Bundle", calling them a "bunch of cynical bastards". "EA releases an 'indie bundle'? That's not how that works, EA", he said, "Indies are saving gaming. EA is methodically destroying it." On 19 December 2012, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced that Persson had donated $250,000 to the EFF's Defend Innovation project. On 25 March 2014, Persson announced that an Oculus Rift version of Minecraft will never happen after Facebook bought Oculus, stating that "Facebook creeps me out".
In September 2014, Persson announced that he, along with fellow Minecraft co-founders Jakob Porser and Carl Manneh, would be leaving Mojang after completing the sale of the company to Microsoft for $2.5 billion. In December 2014, he purchased an 8-bedroom, 15-bath mansion in Trousdale Estates, a neighborhood of Beverly Hills, California, for a reported $70 million.