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Indie sandbox building game Minecraft is one of the hottest games on the PC, with over 3 million copies sold since late 2010. Why isn’t it on Steam or any other digital retailer, then?

“Being on Steam limits a lot of what we’re allowed to do with the game, and how we’re allowed to talk to our users,” says Minecraft designer Markus "Notch" Persson. “ We (probably?) wouldn’t be able to, say, sell capes or have a map market place on minecraft.net that works with Steam customers in a way that keeps Valve happy. It would effectively split the Minecraft community into two parts, where only some of the players can access all of the weird content we want to add to the game.”

“We are talking to Valve about this, but I definitely understand their reasons for wanting to control their platform. There’s a certain inherent incompatibility between what we want to do and what they want to do.”

Persson also points out that he actually likes Steam. He mentions elsewhere in the note that Steam is the “best digital distribution platform” he’s ever seen and he’s spent “incredible amounts of money on it.”

“So there’s no big argument, we just don’t want to limit what we can do with Minecraft. Also, Steam is awesome. Much more awesome than certain other digital distribution platforms that we would NOT want to release Minecraft on.”

The beta for the PC version of Minecraft was released in December 2010. The full version of the game is supposed to be released later this year.