Microsoft says “comments and opinions” from Minecraft creator Markus Persson, better known as Notch, have led the company to exclude him from an upcoming event celebrating the game’s 10th anniversary. Microsoft told Variety, “His comments and opinions do not reflect those of Microsoft or Mojang and are not representative of Minecraft.”
As Microsoft has worked to make Minecraft into a universal, family-friendly game, Persson has been something of a thorn in its side. The game’s creator is better known today as an online troll, peddling transphobic, sexist, and otherwise problematic language. He also recently endorsed the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Microsoft has never been particularly close to Persson, but it hasn’t actively rebuked him like this in the past. Persson left Mojang, Minecraft’s developer, when he sold the company to Microsoft in 2014, and he hadn’t been actively developing the game for several years at that point. After some of Persson’s more recent comments, Microsoft updated Minecraft to remove a few references to him that sometimes popped up on the game’s main screen. At the time, though, Microsoft didn’t say why.
Distancing itself from Persson should have been an easy decision. It also comes at a time when Microsoft is trying to prove that it takes diversity and representation seriously. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella recently emailed staff saying that if they didn’t support building a more inclusive culture, “your rewards, your career trajectory, and possibly even your employment will be impacted.”
At the same time, Microsoft has taken flack from some employees who believe it’s more eager to talk about its pro-diversity stance than to take action. The company was recently criticized for allowing anti-diversity messages to be posted on an internal message board.