Minecraft creator attacks Microsoft's Windows 8 plan

Image caption,
Minecraft's success led Mr Persson to be described as "the poster-boy of digital distribution" by Bafta

Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson has become the latest developer to attack Microsoft's Windows 8 games strategy.

He claimed that the software firm risked ruining its gaming ecosystem.

His comments follow similar criticism from executives at the video games company Valve and publisher Activision Blizzard.

However, others in the industry said the new operating system could be beneficial.

Mr Persson revealed his views in two tweets.

"Got an email from Microsoft, wanting to help 'certify' minecraft for win 8. I told them to stop trying to ruin the PC as an open platform," he wrote.

"I'd rather have minecraft not run on win 8 at all than to play along. Maybe we can convince a few people not to switch to win 8 that way," he added in the second message.

The success of Minecraft - a game in which users use blocks to create their environment - has made Mr Persson one of the sector's most closely watched players.

More than 7.5 million copies of the title have been sold, and earlier this year Mr Persson was singled out for a special award by Bafta (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), which described the 33-year-old as "an inspiration for all games developers".

Rules and regulations

The certification scheme that Mr Persson has taken issue with is designed to illustrate that Microsoft has reviewed a program to confirm the code is "completely finished" and reliable when run on a Windows 8-powered PC.

Stated requirements include a need to conform to Microsoft's gesture "touch language" and an avoidance of adult content if a title is to qualify to appear in the app store for the Windows 8 touchscreen interface.

That means games that are rated PEGI 18 - only suitable for adults over the age of 18 - would not qualify for the store.

Image caption,
The Windows 8 stores are designed to encourage users to download more programs

In addition Microsoft will offer a separate desktop app store with a different set of rules focused on security and compatibility requirements.

As is the case on Apple and Google's app stores, Microsoft will take a 30% cut of sales made through its marketplace.

Developers can still sell titles outside Microsoft's stores without certification on computers powered by the full Windows 8 system. This will run on x86-based systems using chips made by Intel and AMD.

However, on the Windows RT variant of the system - which will power cheaper tablets running on ARM-based chips - app publishers will only be able to sell their products through the Windows 8 store designed for the touchscreen interface, with all its associated restrictions.

Catastrophe claim

Valve's chief executive, Gabe Newell, has previously expressed concern that Windows 8 would be a "catastrophe for everyone in the PC space".

He said he preferred a fully open platform and also expressed concern that Microsoft's cut of sales might drive some firms out of business because of the pressure on their sales margins.

Valve runs Steam - an alternative games store marketplace - as well as developing its own titles.

Following this declaration, Rob Pardo, an executive at Blizzard - the firm behind Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft - said that Windows 8 was "not awesome for Blizzard either".

'Greater visibility'

However, other developers are more positive about the opportunities the Windows stores offer to showcase their products, and believe the design of the touchscreen interface will encourage users to install more apps.

"Microsoft get a lot of things right," said Jason Kingsley, founder of Rebellion Studios, which currently sells games on Valve's Steam platform.

"One of the problems at the moment is that while we can get games out to a worldwide audience the issue is visibility. I think this is a potential route to greater visibility for the independent sector... though the jury is still out about whether it's the right way to go."

Mr Kingsley added that his company was "likely" to sign up to Microsoft's certification schemes.

Image caption,
Mr Persson suggested his critics should take a "chill pill" in one of his tweets

Hypocrisy attack

Microsoft declined to comment on Mr Persson's comments, however it highlighted an editorial featured on the Neowin tech site that accused the developer of being a "hypocrite".

"You have a very successful version of Minecraft on the Mac and iOS platforms. You didn't have a problem with Apple's closed systems policy when you launched the iOS or Mac versions," wrote Neowin's John Callaham.

"And let's not forget the Xbox 360 version... Microsoft controls everything on the Xbox dashboard."

Mr Persson addressed this point in a tweet: "Microsoft owns the Xbox. Apple owns the iOS. The charm of the PC is that nobody owns it... Microsoft is free to do whatever they want with their OS. I won't support all of what they do, however."

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