Video game development has never been more widespread and available to newcomers than before; in the modern age, it always seems like there is somebody with a brilliant idea and humble beginnings. Due to the influx of developers, keeping track of which titles show the most promise is difficult and the signs aren’t always clear. Despite this, there are a few titles that manage to forge a path for themselves onward and upward and “Minecraft” is absolutely no exception. Beginning development over 11 years ago yesterday, creator Markuss “Notch” Peerson began experimenting with a randomly generating cave type game. While the footage displays the game in its infancy, the title certainly showed promise for a bigger and better game. It was from these humble beginnings that spawned a whole phenomenon that would permeate cultures and boundaries throughout the world. “Minecraft”’s impact cannot be understated as it was instrumental in a multitude of ways that facilitated great online connectivity, collaboration and even computer labs in schools. It is culturally iconic with its addicting repetitive flow of mining, crafting and building. In fact, some of Minecraft’s most basic functions have been in the game longer than many people think; with over a decade of decorated history, “Minecraft” has remained the same great game it always was.
“Minecraft” is often classified into many distinct phases in its lifespan ranging from its early testing phases to the modern sophisticated versions. In these stages there is not a feeling of urgency in the game. While the same argument can be made today, back then the game had yet to implement a survival mode and it was all mainly centered around building and landscaping. Even the early multiplayer tests in this age in “Minecraft” history are fun to revisit sometimes. These simple versions before alpha development laid the building blocks for a greater game. “Minecraft: Classic” will always be remembered as a fun way to mess around and it helped lead to what the game is today. After some more experimental versions, the addition of an infinite world and finally introducing a survival element to the gameplay; Notch was comfortable moving forward. Named Alpha, this version would hallmark many of the game’s innovations.
During the lifecycle of this phase, many more mainstays of the “Minecraft” experience were created such as other dimensions like the Nether. Notch certainly had a vision going into developing this part of the game but he worked in secret and teased fans often. This period showcased the visions of players experiencing the game. These versions are marked by the creativity and boundless imagination of countless players at the time. The tools given to players allowed them to flex their imaginations to an infinite degree. Notch would usually give surprises with secret Friday updates to include new items and features, but largely the game has remained the same since early development. While the title was certainly popular, it had yet to reach the heights the game is known for until December 20, 2010 when Notch finally moved the project into beta.
Finally in a new release, Notch brought the title into a whole new era of hype and excitement as the game was finally able to fully showcase how great of a game it actually is. The biggest addition to the game in this time was mainly centered around multiplayer as this phase in development is often recognized for the sheer volume of interactivity and community solidarity. “Minecraft” was finally getting real recognition and had begun to ride the early waves of social media. Twitter, Youtube and all other platforms were flooded with videos, screenshots and even music utilizing note blocks to make actual songs playable.The title had finally found its stride and was selling insane numbers with the title crossing 10 million purchases during this period. The title was synonymous with YouTube gameplays and populated so much space on Twitch. It was this time period that left a mark on gaming history, all coalescing with the official release of the game on Sept. 22, 2011. While it was a great release for one of the all time influential games in history, it also signified the end of hype for many players as the community had begun decreasing in popularity and population.
Nevertheless, Mojang Studios was still committed to transforming the title into something much more than just the building game it was. While the age of hype and interest may have been quelled for the time being, Mojang Studios would continue to further the title in any way possible. Whether it was simple updates to redstone or new mobs in the Nether, it seemed like there was always something new in the game to keep fans wanting more and wishing for better. For the next several years, the team behind the game would add features fans have been wishing for, improvements to the world generation and populating that world with various other mobs to hunt and items to craft. For these next five years, “Minecraft” was becoming much more than just the basic mine and craft game it once was. During this time, Mojang Studios approached Microsoft for a possible buyout which resulted in a $2.5 billion sale and a new direction for the company. Yet, business ran as usual with more development being done on larger updates to showcase new experiences like never before.
Sometime in early 2017, and for whatever reason, many had felt the need to revisit a classic title that was fresh with new things to do and sights to explore. The advent of “Minecraft”’s resurgence of interest was inevitable but not expected. For many who loved the game and continued to support it, this reintroduction was again thanks to social media and the allure of revisiting a game from one’s past. It was gradual at first, but eventually “Minecraft” has been able to retain its status as one of the most popular games. Finally adding so much content in annual updates had given the title more things to do than ever before; only further adding to the new hype it was just receiving. Thus we find ourselves in the new age of Minecraft with even more on the cube horizon.
Minecraft has become a cultural and generational phenomenon for all ages to enjoy in so many countless forms. The team has even branched out further with more games to bring the “Minecraft” brand to. In a few weeks, the brand will venture into the dungeon crawling genre with “Minecraft: Dungeons.” Even for the main game, Mojang Studios is giving a new update to the Nether with new biomes, piglin creatures and Netherite armor and tools. While Microsoft’s buyout of Mojang Studios has certainly paid off, they still have quite a lot of work to do in order to keep this momentum going. Yet, what is undeniable about the game is the impact it has had on players lost in the Lego-like world.
Mojang Studios is of course always striving to release something exciting that could be the next stepping stone to a better, square world. From the beginning, the core values have largely stayed the same, inciting creativity and exploration every step of the way. What remains to be seen now is how Mojang Studios can transform this excitement and joy to other experiences and even more players. “Minecraft” is just as influential and important now as it was a decade ago, it has and always will remain a monolithic representation of both game development and community unity.