I’ve been playing Minecraft since a year ago. Before that, I used to think that the game is only about building stuff out of pixelated blocks. Like Lego. That’s how most people describe Minecraft, especially the one who just knew the game from screenshots or occasional minecraft-related news where people seem to constantly build ridiculous things in it.1
But as it turns out, after just a week of gameplay i realised Minecraft is more than that. It’s a lot more than just building stuff out of pixelated blocks, it’s a lot more than just a game made for kids, it’s a lot more than lego.
In fact, Minecraft, specifically the survival gameplay mode, represents the best thing about gaming; it brings you to another dimension, an immersive and challenging world, where possibilities (and the dangers) are endless, yet it doesn’t need to utilise snazzy graphics or well-developed plot, or linear gameplay where you do one thing and you proceed to the next stage of the game. It’s all up to you to proceed the game, and it teaches you several good principles of life. Hard work, creativity, and personality.
It’s no surprise, then, that the game is so popular. Millions and millions of copies of Minecraft are sold every month, although the game itself is quite old, and updates by Mojang, although free, are usually slow and very careful in adding new things (or even fix bugs) to the game. It’s a very unique game, in that perspective.
And last week, it got acquired by Microsoft. Suddenly, for millions of vocal players of the game, Minecraft is dead (or soon to be). The fear of a big company acquiring things that they might not fully understand, that ends in the destruction of values that makes the thing valuable in the first place might be a cliche, but to some extend, probably holds some accuracy. Microsoft in the past has acquired several game studios that doesn’t end well, and while we all know there’s new regime at Redmond, the thought that they acquired a piece of software that is doing really well, brings the fear that Microsoft will change or instill new values in Mojang that doesn’t correspond well to the current values that Minecraft holds for millions of its gamers.
What are these values? Well, let’s just mention one by one here. Although i’m not exactly a heavy gamer, i recognise several key values of Minecraft that is different from other game, and these are some:
1. Developer as a Facilitator
Although 3rd party mods are not a new thing in game overall, but i think most of us who are familiar with minecraft will agree that the amount and variety of mods compatible with Minecraft is minid-blowingly large. Some of them even create new game inside the game, and this might conflict with Microsoft core interest as owner of Minecraft. For example, there are launchers like FTB Launcher & ATLauncher that pretty much allows you to play a pack of mods that make minecraft an entirely new game for free. Mojang until now apparently sees this as a healthy thing for the community and didn’t make a single dime off of it. Will Microsoft think the same?
2. As little update as possible
This one might be quite controversial, but i’d argue it’s actually one of the key values of Minecraft in its current form. The lack of manpower working for Mojang to develop new feature for the game might be what causing this instead of values that they actually realised and believed, but, hear me on this, this is what makes Minecraft trully amazing. It’s like old Apple in this regard. They didn’t put a bunch of new blocks, or introduce a bunch of new mobs in a single update. In fact, they only introduce, from my quick observation playing the game, a single new mob for every major new update. How can this be, when game developers are trying to make as much money as possible by making as many DLCs as they could to add more new things to the game? Will Microsoft understand this dynamic in play? I don’t know.
3. True cross-platform compatibility
This is one of the worries i’ve seen people have when reacting to the acquisition news. Will Minecraft still use Java, which facilitates its cross-platform compatibility across 3 different OS? From what i know as a mac user, a game might have some cross-platform compatibility, but not all parts of it. For example, GTA might be mac-compatible but some of the mods are not. Well, in Minecraft, since it runs on Java, all mods are compatible across platform. And about Java in general, i am quite torn about this. I’ve been reading a lot of people saying Java is actually the reason why Minecraft is so unoptimized. Moving to native programming language might mean the game runs faster, but again, read point 1. The mods are one of the key things that make this game great.
Those three are what i think is the core values that make Minecraft the game so unique in current gaming landscape. Whether or not Microsoft will be able to run Mojang without messing it up, i don’t know. But i’m hopeful. At the very least, having been alive to see one of the best game of this generation being born and maintained very well while the developer remained independent is truly great.
Do you think there are other values of Minecraft that Microsoft needs to note or you have an opinion regarding this acquisition? Fill up the comment with your thoughts