"We just have 10 fun years, and then, the last year, we'd say to our employees, 'If we don't make any money this year, Mojang is going to be dead. So you might want to look for new jobs,'" Persson tells Rolling Stone.
Mojang is estimated to be worth $2 billion. Scrolls, Mojang's collectible card adventure, is profitable, but it makes "peanuts" next to Minecraft, Persson says.
In 2013, Persson halted work on his epic space game, 0x10c, citing a creative block that wouldn't budge. He works in waves – some weeks he'll program consistently, and others he'll play Borderlands 2 all day, he tells the magazine. Persson is concerned about these patterns, since they mimic habits he saw in his father, who took medication for manic depression and committed suicide in 2011.
"The depression, I'm worried about," Persson says. "With the creative stuff, I have highs of being very productive and lows of being not productive. I have that in my moods as well."
Now, Persson is trying to distance himself from the pressure to create another hit game, and simply have fun developing something. His devil-may-care attitude regarding money and success is mostly a facade, he says: "I think the only way I could make something fun and big is if I don't expect it to be."