Last year, I wrote an editorial about the “Minecraft Generation“, explaining that the current generation will be known in the history books as the Minecraft Generation, due to the prevalence and huge growth of Minecraft. Since then, i’ve been thinking about the future of Minecraft. It’s already sold more than 100 million copies, and Microsoft’s acquisition last year shows that they don’t think it will die any time soon. I’m inclined to agree with them, so much so that I think Minecraft will be around in a century. Why? Because it’s the perfect game.
In the past, most games were story based, so you’d play through the story once, maybe twice if it was good, then hope for a sequel. There were mods, and when multiplayer was introduced, countless hours could be spent playing against other people. The games i’m talking about here are things like the original Half-Life, and Counter Strike. Another factor in their outdatedness was the graphics. Compare Half-Life 1 to any modern shooter, and you’ll see the graphics aren’t up to par. As computers became better, and cheaper, better graphics became viable. We now live in a world where we get a new CoD and Battlefield game every year or so.
Games without a linear storyline, such as RTS games (Real Time Strategy) such as Age of Empires and Starcraft didn’t have the same problems, mainly because you could play games over and over again and it would be a different battle each time. (Or at the very least you could improve your strategy). Turn based games like Civlization were similar in their replayabliliity. Yet many of these games fell by the wayside and were replaced by sequels with better graphics and new units.
Both of these situations are not a blanket rule, and there are numerous examples of games that have lasted a long time – Age of Empires II, World of Warcraft, The Sims & Civilisation francishes. THe point i’m illustrating however, is that games, in general, don’t last a long time.
Minecraft, on the other hand, is like an out of control freight-train, in that it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon, due to aforementioned perfectness.
I say it is the perfect game for a number of reasons.
1 – The Art-Style Won’t Become Outdated Any Time Soon
Notch’s choice of pixelated textures was, in hindsight, a great choice. Instead of going for realism, and being replaced by the latest and greatest, Minecraft simply looks like Minecraft. It’s not trying to compare to anything realistic, and that works because it looks good.
2 – The Game Is a Sandbox
While you could argue that the main purpose of Minecraft is survival, the mere existence of the creative gamemode has contributed hugely to Minecraft’s success. It allows players to turn Minecraft into whatever they want, from a floating PvP arena, to a cruise ship, a Church on a Tank, and just about anything else you can imagine. The huge number of custom maps available on the Minecraft Forums, PlanetMinecraft and a number of other sites confirms this.
3 – It Markets Itself
Minecraft is memorable. It doesn’t look like anything else, and it doesn’t play like anything else. It effectively markets itself. This is also aided by a large number of successful youtubers who exclusively play Minecraft.
4 – There’s a Large Modding Community
Mods will lengthen the life of any game. Minecraft’s modding community is almost as big as it’s mapping one (possibly even bigger). From total conversion mods that add electricity, machines, planes, guns, magic and more, to small tweaks like minimaps and HUDS, and even graphical enhancements like shaders; if it can be imagined, it’s a mod.
5 – It’s on Consoles
As much as it pains me to say this, Minecraft on consoles is a great thing. It’s introduced Minecraft to audiences that can’t, or don’t want to play it on PC. While they might miss out on key features like mods, resourcepacks and servers, they’re interested in, and playing the game.
6 – Multiplayer Servers
Why play by yourself if you can play with others? Minecraft servers are huge. The Hypixel Server, for example, has 20,000 player slots, and normally has around 10,000 on whenever I check. That’s one server out of thousands. While some donation models are certainly unethical, and the viability of a server often comes before player satisffaction, these communities are often what keep Minecrafters playing.
7 – It’s a Great Tech Demo
Microsoft’s “HoloLens” project, demoed earlier this year, relied heavily on Minecraft to show off the possibilities. I think this is just the beginning. Minecraft offers a unique way to demo things, because it’s a game we all know, but one that cool things can be done with. Rather than have to develop new demoes for each product, Microsoft can simply adapt Minecraft.
It’s undeniable that Minecraft is here to stay. I say this because of the reasons above, and simply because people won’t let it die. Even if Mojang stops releasing updates, the community will prevail, and the game will outlast us all.