I like learning about new jobs that didn’t exist a generation ago (or even a year ago). Part of that is because I have anxiety about people getting paid, but we don’t have to dwell on that other than to say that Minecraft is helping to alleviate some of my concerns. As with YouTube, Roblox, and Steam’s workshop, community members are making a living building content for the Minecraft platform. I spoke with one of the leaders of Blockception, a successful group of community creators for the blockbuster builder, to better understand this trend and to kick off our Minecraft Marketplace Stories series.
Alex Bellavita is the creative director of Blockception. This collective design content for the block-building game’s Marketplace, and it has found a lot of success. Bellavita is 24 years old and lives in London, and designing content for Minecraft is his primary source of income.
“I am lucky to say that this is my full-time job,” Bellavita said in an email to GamesBeat. “I have several other ventures outside of Minecraft that I am working on, but this is where most of my time is focused.”
And that is time well spent considering that Blockception had the No. 1 and No. 2 best-selling pieces of content on the Minecraft Marketplace last month. The group builds complete worlds like the medieval fantasy setting of Whiterock Castle that other players can acquire with premium Minecoin currency. Whiterock Castle goes for 160 Minecoins, which is the equivalent of $1, but other pieces of content sell for as much as $5. When a player spends their Minecoins on something from Blockception, Microsoft gives an undisclosed percentage of the revenue to the development group.
Most of Blockception’s worlds cost about a buck, which makes them more affordable than other add-ons. That helps Whiterock Castle or The Crater sell well — although the high ratings from user reviews also contributes to that success.
I asked Bellavita if he had any additional insight into why Blockception’s content does so well.
“Honestly, we aren’t really sure,” he said. “We love that people are downloading and enjoying our content. Everyone in the team works hard on making sure that the content they make is to their best ability at the time of it being conceived.”
Bellavita and the rest of Blockception didn’t come to Minecraft from nowhere. The crew met while playing the game, and they worked on projects together over time.
“After several years of making content in Minecraft on and off, I was approached by Microsoft to join the Marketplace,” Bellavita explained. “Myself and Blockception’s cofounder Jonathan Black quickly embraced this opportunity that had been given to us and started creating maps for the Minecraft Marketplace becoming one of the ‘Pioneer Partners.’”
If you’re wondering how something like Blockception works, it’s a developer mashed together with a utopian commune. The group comes up with ideas and works together to execute on those concepts. Bellavita said that, as creative director, he was responsible for deciding what the team should work on. That has started to change, though.
“As of a few months ago, anyone in the team is able to build whatever they want,” said Bellavita. “When an idea is presented we try to figure out if that member’s vision is possible. They then select several members of the team they wish to work with and the project begins. I try to have very little involvement in the vision of the project when it doesn’t come from myself. I suggest a few small things but largely the person who had the idea has most of the say of where the project will end up.”
When it comes time to make those ideas into a reality, Blockception faces many of the same problems as any studio.
“Bugs and time are the biggest constraints,” said Blockception. “Sometimes something doesn’t work as intended and when trying to stick to a schedule, this becomes tough to try and achieve the same desired result. This challenge forces us to be creative in terms of finding a solution to the problem.”
But as a pioneer partner, Blockception is making the Minecraft Marketplace work. And Bellavita thinks the game has a strong future as a platform for the kind of content his crew wants to make.
“Minecraft is unique in the fact that everyone interprets the game in a different way,” he said. “The ways to play Minecraft depends purely on what you are trying to get out of it. If you want to play minigames or PVP you can jump on a server and play. If you want to create something artistic you can. If you want to create a massive adventure map with a story, voice acting, and bosses you are able to. Minecraft can be whatever you personally want it to be, and that’s why I see Minecraft still being around for years to come. The game is constantly evolving based on what type of experience the players want out of it and that to me is something amazing.”