» Why Minecraft Should Be Your Model Online Community

Minecraft Floating Island

Image: "Minecraft Floating Island" by Drotth .

Minecraft is a video game well-known to indie gamers. Developed and published independent of major corporations, this is a virtual sandbox game about "breaking and placing blocks". And with revenues of more than $80 million generated by a small team, Minecraft is worth a closer look.

A strong community is what every business wants for itself. Brand advocates create buzz which leads to sales. Minecraft is significant because it grew to be so successful based solely on word of mouth among the gaming community.

Minecraft, owned by the company Mojang, successfully filled an unmet need in the market. Gamers rallied around the developer. Eventually, a strong brand community formed that propelled Minecraft to significant success. While many independent developers create games out of passion rather than a desire to chase dollars, outspoken and loyal gamers can generate buzz leading to considerable reward for those involved.

Lego Ideas is an example of a large, passionate community. The Lego Ideas premise is community members create their own vision of the sets they think Lego should manufacture. Given enough support from others in the community, Lego will take these community ideas and produce new sets. Lego will even consider sets based on a brand like Minecraft. How many brands do you know that have their own Lego set?

The Minecraft community supports Mojang because Mojang operates in full conversation with the very same people who helped make it successful. Community is more than Facebook. It's more than Twitter. These are just tools that help enable it. The roots of a real community are embedded in an organization's DNA, not added on top of "the way we've always done things."

Organizations like Mojang who recognize this and devote themselves to their fanbase are rewarded with loyal brand advocates. The Minecraft community helped this game grow from a small idea into an enterprise. We see a convention, t-shirts, a Lego set, and a soundtrack available because the community wanted it.

Getting to this point is not easy, but it is possible. Mojang made Minecraft into the product its community wanted. And it maintains an intimate relationship with its gamers by encouraging reciprocity. Mojang may have developed Minecraft, but at this point, the fans own the brand just as much as the company.

What do you think of Minecraft? Have you seen another passionate community build up around a brand?