Earlier this year Microsoft acquired indie developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. It was a big move, and it left many fans wondering how it might effect Mojang’s hit game Minecraft. In a recent interview with IGN, Xbox head Phil Spencer talked about the desire to meet the needs of the game’s community. He said that Minecraft 2 may not make the most sense, and his words were followed by every fan of the game breathing a sigh of relief. Minecraft already does what it was created to do perfectly, why would it ever need a sequel?
Why it works so well
From the beginning, Minecraft was a game all about building. Not only was the gameplay about letting you create whatever you wanted, but the game itself was designed to be built up into something better. If you look at its original release and look at it now, it’s a very different game. Thanks to Mojang’s constant support with free updates, the game was able to constantly grow into something more grand. Content is constantly being added, and bugs are always being squashed. A sequel could never improve on the Minecraft formula, because its formula is all about improvement. A sequel would be a radical shift away from the pre-established normal of the game, changing it from a single evolving entity to a standard game series with annual static sequels.
Now that Microsoft owns the game, the company’s best course of action to keep customers happy would just be to keep the updates rolling. Minecraft is now on more platforms than ever, catering to millions of players. Everyone who has purchased the game bought it knowing it would receive updates, that the developers would be adding more fun content. It’s essentially an Everlasting Gobbstopper: for a one-time price you get something you can never finish and that will remain good for years to come. If a sequel comes along it will make the original go stale, forever stopping progress in your old worlds. It’d be like a new Skylanders game that wasn’t compatible with last year’s figures, or a new box of Legos that didn’t fit your old pieces. New content shouldn’t intend to be a rigid standalone package; it should be an addition to the big Minecraft toy box.
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When Microsoft announced in September that it would acquire Minecraft developer Mojang for the price of $2.5 billion, no one outside the company seemed to be able to agree on what it should do with its new asset. Many gamers, journalists and analysts did agree on one thing, however: a sequel probably isn’t a good idea. Microsoft apparently isn’t ready to prove them wrong.
Speaking in an IGN podcast, Xbox head Phil Spencer insisted that his company knows it must first satisfy the needs of the current Minecraft community before expanding the franchise. That means that a sequel to the almost inconceivably popular world-building game may not be in the plans.
“I don’t know if Minecraft 2, if that’s the thing that makes the most sense,” said Spencer. “The community around Minecraft is as strong as any community out there. We need to meet the needs and the desires of what the community has before we get permission to go off and do something else. It doesn’t mean that everything we’re going to do is going to map to 100 percent of their acceptance, because I don’t know if there is any topic where 100 percent of people agree. But we look at Job 1 is to go out and meet the needs of the Minecraft community first, and then we can think about ways that we can actually help grow it. That’s our sole focus.”
Get ready, Whovians! As of Friday you can now take the form of over 50 of your favorite Doctor Who characters while playing Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. The skin pack has been in the works for a while, and is available for $2.99 from the Xbox Marketplace. Minecraft is certainly fond of releasing new skin packs, and we can hardly wait to see what fanbase they’ll appease next.
Check out the trailer after the break.
Minecraft: Xbox One Edition was developed by Mojang and 4J Studios and published by Microsoft Studios. It was released on Friday, September 5 2014 for $20 and is also available to owners of the Xbox 360 Edition for $4.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.
Well, someone had to do it. And that someone is me. Drawing the review for Minecraft: Xbox One Edition may have been the most challenging assignment of my XBLA Fans writing career, simply because there isn’t much left to write which hasn’t been written a million times before. When he reviewed the Xbox 360 version of this seminal mining/crafting/adventure game over two years ago, our reviewer opened with the throwaway line that even the most casual of weekend gamers must already have heard of Minecraft – and he was absolutely right.
So where does that leave us? Well, my review of the recently released Xbox One version will reinforce Minecraft‘s core elements for those already familiar with giving newcomers an introduction to those same elements. At the same time, I’m going to lay out some of the changes, no matter how subtle they may be, that differentiate this version from that of the last generation of consoles. Let’s dig in.
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