Minecraft, or “Cave Game” as it was originally named, has been around in various forms since May, 2009. It has grown at an unprecedented rate ever since. Notch’s success keeps evolving and has branched out to practically every platform you can think of.
But how does it continue to sell? And what keeps it so popular to gamers of all ages?
Something For Everyone
At first glance, Minecraft looks like a game for children. The graphics, are soft and cartoonish. The gameplay is simple, kill mobs and build a house. There doesn’t appear to be much else to it, but scratch the surface and you open up the heart of what this game has to offer.
As Minecraft has grown, so too has the playerbase. Players like myself, in their early teens when they started playing are in their twenties now. As you grow, your interests change. No longer interested in building simple houses, I eventually expanded the way I approached the game.
I dabbled in the mechanical side of the game, with Redstone wiring. This pseudo-electrical system allows you to create machines that automate all manner of mundane tasks in the game. For the more advanced, it allows for the creation things like complex input/output minigames and even building your own 8-bit computer within the game!
Although I find that building a house and decorating no longer scratches my Minecraft itch anymore, there are plenty of people who love it just for that reason. They’ll hop on with their friends after school and build to their hearts content, either gathering resources in survival, or skipping that, in creative mode.
Minecraft has also become a widely used tool in schools to bolster childrens creativity, and make them problem solve in ways they might not have thought about had they not been engaged in a fun activity.
As it’s such a simple and small game, Minecraft is extremely widely available. While gathering a large portion of its popularity on the Java edition on PC, in 2012 it came to consoles. This is where the game truly became available to all.
Since it was brought to consoles, Minecraft has appeared on almost any device that has some sort of CPU. It’s so lightweight that it doesn’t take a meaty PC to run it, so bringing it along to mobile phones and tablets seemed inevitable.
As Minecraft comes to more and more devices, they open up their install base to gamers who might not have been able to play before, or those who like to play on-the-go. Additionally, with the Bedrock edition, you can move through any device and keep the same world, which is an attractive proposition for any game.
The games developers, Mojang, have a fairly robust update schedule. Every 6 months or so, they produce content packs that can include a fairly decent chunk of content. New content can include a mixture of new features, blocks, locations, enemies and bug fixes.
The content provided is all 100% free, meaning no one loses access to playing with their friends because they can’t afford the new features. It gives players reasons to return, as past content updates have changed the way the game plays completely, breathing new life into a familiar experience.
Becoming a Household Name
Over the past few years, “Minecraft” has become something of a household name. Since the acquisition of the title by Microsoft, gone are the days where the game is just punching trees, killing mobs and building a house. Mojang, with a lot of help from Microsoft, have created an empire out of Minecraft.
Minecraft Dungeons is the most recent example of this, where players team up and play through missions, finding new and powerful weapons, in pursuit of the Arch Illager boss. But this top down action RPG is only one of the many additions to Minecraft’s repertoire.
Along with Dungeons you’ve got Telltale’s Story Mode. Story mode is the classic Telltale story and consequence game, with a Minecraft twist. Although this game wasn’t a blockbuster for most, it found a home with its younger audience who loved the interactive move style.
Then there’s the mobile, augmented reality, Minecraft Earth. Earth seems to be similar to the demo we saw from Microsoft’s Hololens, which allows players to build a world around them, using hand motions and touch screens to build persistent towns and cities in the places you visit.
Some of these games were bigger and more successful than others, but undoubtedly all contributed to the awareness of the brand, and money in the pockets of the developers who create these games.
We can’t talk about the success and longevity of Minecraft without talking about mods and modpacks.
It’s a fact, most games that provide an open approach to modding and additional content survive and thrive for longer than those that don’t. Minecraft is no exception to this rule, and the way that Minecraft stores its game files makes it incredibly easy for users to add new chunks of player-generated content, right into their directory.
Some of the most successful Minecraft mods come in the form of modpacks, most of which have their own launchers. These modpacks, like Tekkit and Feed The Beast, often take the basic foundation of Minecraft and overhaul them significantly. Usually this includes new and more challenging mobs, additional ores and materials that can be crafted into different items, factories and processing plants that can be built from the ground up and even new dimensions such as the Aether.
Streamers on Twitch.TV often use these modpacks as it adds a lot of variety to the game, and helps the streamers stand out from those who are just playing the vanilla version of the game. Let’s face it, we’ve all played vanilla a whole lot.
There are also standalone mods that you can pick and choose between. Things like auto-feeding helmets so you’ll never have to worry about going hungry again, as long as you have food with you and culinary combination mods, adding more food and advanced cooking recipes.
If you’ve ever played Minecraft and thought, I wish I could do X or Y, there’s a mod for that, and it’s a huge reason that the game remains popular today.
How Long Will Minecraft’s Success Last?
It’s an interesting question. For a game that so many have played for hours on end, shouldn’t it be dying down, at least a little bit?
Honestly, no. Mojang are as hard at work as they ever have been. Their new Nether Update is set to release on 23rd June, and it’s one of the biggest content packs we’ve seen in a while. There is no sign of them slowing up, and every indication that they will continue to push Minecraft to every platform that will allow it.
I’ve played Minecraft for around half of my life, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
It just keeps getting better!