This is from money coming from no other source than $14 per-person purchases of the Minecraft alpha. That is to say, he’s made more by selling the pre-pre-release version of his game than some studios make. With 273,437 registered users, he’s pulled in $3,828,118.
Apparently, first-person lego building has struck a deep nerve with the buying public. I’d love to get some statistics about who’s buying, though. I can’t tell if it’s just a few hundred thousand people who already play a lot of games deciding $14 isn’t much to pay for a decent time-sink game that’s got a unique premise or if it’s a lot of people particularly interested in this sort of exploration/building game who haven’t found much value in the standard game releases. It’s certainly a premise that lends itself to self-expression and individual storytelling, which is pretty rare in modern games. Partly, I’m sure, because “make your own fun” is considered an intensely risky proposition. I really dug the free weekend, so I’m happy to encourage you all to pick this up while it’s still cheap and make your own crazy block creations!
Notch has stated he’s going to drive most of this money into making a proper studio and developing other games, while at the same time making a push to really finish up Minecraft and polish it for a release version. He’s also going to save a lot and put some into his upcoming wedding because he loves his girlfriend (check the bottom of the page). Actually, that page is full of interesting little bits of programming he’s done in the past few years. It’s obvious he’s a dude with some interesting ideas and the wherewithal to express them. I can’t wait to see what he does with the new-found crazy riches he has!