Minecraft: Stages of Development of the Game's Popularity

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For the Interactive Media sector, I have chosen to write about the massively successful game “Minecraft”. It has swept the globe in popularity since its official release and has had a recent resurgence in popularity among the community. This is a screenshot of the first stage of development the game experienced. As you can see, the graphics are extremely basic, and the game mechanics were very simple; break blocks, put them back again. It was initially developed by Mojang and led by Markus ‘Notch’ Perrson and Jens Bergsten. Gameplay can be found here. This version was released on the 17th of May 2009 and was later dubbed as the ‘classic’ build. This game was initially designed for people who are creative and want a sense of adventure. The trailer can be found here.

As development continued, the game began to receive a lot of attention. In 2011 they released a ‘Lite’ version for mobile devices which was free to download and play. Of course, the majority of the playerbase were on mobile devices and so because it was so easy to play, many people did so, specifically those of a younger demographic. In the game you can mine for resources and it is very rewarding when you find the rarest resource in the game; Diamonds. They allow you to ‘craft’ the best items in the game. Most players immediately recognise the signature blue ore that contains diamonds due to the unique graphics that they have adapted to make players remember them.

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Recently, they have been doing collaborations with different franchises such as Toy Story, Adventure Time, Fallout, LittleBigPlanet, etc. By doing this, they are reaching out to the fanbases of other games and shows by releasing ‘skins’ which are virtual outfits that you can equip. It is clear that they have a wide appeal to many people, predominantly male 7 - 15 year olds, however they are aware of their mature audience and offer things for teenagers and adults, but are more orientated towards the younger audience. This is seen on their website. There is a creative mode for people who want to be free to express themselves, and a survival mode for people who want an adventure.

Mojang has been pushing the idea of “it’s better together” for a long time. Multiplayer was released soon after its release. Ever since Mojang and Minecraft were sold to Microsoft, the use of Xbox Live accounts are used in the “Bedrock” versions of the game which include iOS, Android, Windows 10, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and very recently, Playstation 4. Sony, the company that owns the Playstation, has been very reluctant for a long time allowing cross-platform multiplayer with their competitors, however they finally made an agreement with Microsoft and Nintendo to allow third-party access to Xbox Live. The trailer for the “Better Together” update announces the arrival of bedrock edition to the Playstation which allows people to play with their friends who they couldn’t originally play with, which makes more people enjoy it. Minecraft has a paid subscription service called “Realms” which allows up to 10 players on one Minecraft World at once to play, even when the owner isn’t online. Additionally, every player has a 30 day free-trial which great because 1 month of Realms costs £7.99, which, again, promotes the primary motive of the game; multiplayer.

Minecraft has reached out to people through the players themselves via social media platforms, specifically YouTube. Either they already had a large fanbase and gathered lots of attraction to the game or they built their career off of it. A popular game within Minecraft is ‘Hunger Games’ which, as the name implies, practices the same methods of the film ‘The Hunger Games’. This became so popular that searching ‘The Hunger Games’ resulted in you getting bombarded with Minecraft videos, which shows the massive impact Minecraft had on the internet which boosted its popularity. There is a video that talks about this in depth here. Young people watched YouTube more than they did terrestrial media such as TV and radio, which meant Minecraft gained more traction.

In contrast to this, in 2015, it saw a downfall, as lots of players fell shy of the game and stopped playing. There was a large hatred for the game for a long time until its’ ten year anniversary, which was on the 17th of May 2019. This was due to players feeling nostalgic playing again and remembering the memories they had. The genre of this game is no doubt Adventure, however it is also commonly referenced to as a sandbox game in which there are “infinite wonders, endless possibilities” in the words of Mojang. This means that you can do anything that you want to, like build a skyscraper or mansion, which gives the audience freedom and makes them feel unbounded and, as said by Mojang, the only limit is your imagination.

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