'It's Done When It's Done' Doesn't Apply At Minecraft Dev Mojang

Minecraft dev Mojang is due to launch its first third-party title, Cobalt, today. It's not nearly done, but CEO Carl Manneh tells Gamasutra he has good reason not to be too concerned.
It's afternoon in Stockholm, and Jens Bergensten is compiling Cobalt. Created by indie studio Oxeye, it's Minecraft developer Mojang's first third-party game. It's due to be released sometime today, though the team isn't quite sure when. The game is a bit of a mess, actually, but today is the day -- the team has committed to get it out before Christmas, and Mojang's web developer is about to go on vacation. So Bergensten, who recently took the reins as lead developer on Minecraft, skips lunch and continues working. Today Gamasutra visited Mojang's office and spoke to Mojang CEO Carl Manneh (pictured right, on the cover of a Swedish financial magazine) about the release. He told us that publishing has always been in the plans from the earliest strategy meetings after the company was founded, but he also said the company avoids the word "publishing" as much as possible. "It's just a word that when people hear 'publishing', they have some preconceptions of it, and we don't agree with all of that," he says. "It's so loaded, and the word breathes 'old model', and we want to reinvent the publishing model in a way that fits for Mojang." However, he says, "from the very beginning we saw this massive opportunity of people who are interested in Minecraft, and we thought we want to make more games. And it would even be possible to accelerate the amount of games, and add to our portfolio, if more people make them." But not just any game is right for Mojang. "We believe in a certain way of developing games, and releasing games, and especially engaging the community in a way like we did with Minecraft," he says. "We want the companies to hold their own IP, and have control of it, and we will only work with people who we believe have very strong ideas of what they want to do with it -- and we don't want to interfere much with the creative aspects of it." One requisite is games that release in the style of Minecraft: alpha, beta, full release. Cobalt is currently pretty shaky, and Bergensten joked that the first thing people will see on Monday is a patch for the game, to be created over the coming weekend, to address issues he knows he can't solve by launch today... whenever that is.
Bergensten works on Cobalt at Mojang HQ in Stockholm
However, Manneh doesn't think this is a problem. While some at Mojang think Cobalt isn't quite ready for release today, he says "how we want to work with it, it doesn't really matter. If we have clear communication that the game is not finished," he says, the audience, now turned onto this type of development cycle, will understand. As with Minecraft, the game will be much cheaper now than in the future, so early adopters will be rewarded for their patience and willingness to experiment with a buggy game by a discount. As far as finding games for Mojang to publish, well, that's a tricky process too. Bergensten has been close to Mojang since its earliest days and has taken over full-time development on Minecraft from lead developer Markus "Notch" Persson, so publishing his company's game is natural. What of the next title? "Notch has a very strong opinion on games and he is very brilliant at knowing what a good game is," says Manneh. "A very close second is the team, because we will be working with them very closely -- it's almost the same as recruitment process," he said. Manneh confirmed that Mojang has another published title in the works, though no details were made available to Gamasutra. As of this writing, Cobalt has not yet launched -- but expect it sometime today at

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