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How Minecraft re-shaped the gaming industry

Friday, 18 November 2011 12:11 GMT By Nathan Grayson

Ahead of the full game’s release today, Nathan Grayson takes look at how Minecraft changed the games industry whilst still in its infancy, and how it will further continue to revolutionise it in the future.

Minecraft

First started public Alpha testing back in May 2009.

It then went beta in December 2010

Full version launches today after two-and-a-half years of work.

An Xbox 360 version is due in 2012, with iOS and Android versions already out.

Mojang’s next game is Scrolls, something it says will go down the Minecraft development route.

The scene: GDC 2011. Notch barely said two words. No big speech. He just snatched his award and walked off the spotlight-illuminated stage. He was not, however, being a Hollywood-caliber asshole. His head hadn’t grown too large for his snazzy hat in the slightest. Rather, he’d already claimed so many awards that night that he simply ran out of things to say. It was almost comical by that point. “And the winner is… Minecraft. Again.”

Really, though, what else do you do with a game like Minecraft? It’s already very nearly a landmark in gaming history, so of course it won by a landslide. Here’s the crazy part, though: Minecraft made a tidal-wave-sized splash, but I don’t think we’ve even begun to see ensuing the ripples that’ll affect the gaming industry for years to come. You can’t well copy the idea of pixelated building blocks, after all. Then you’re just a “Minecraft clone.” And you can’t just copy the idea of Creepers, because then I will cry.

So, on this, the day of Minecraft’s official launch, let’s remember the game not for what it was, but what it will be.

In it for the long haul

Actually, that may well end up being the biggest thing Minecraft contributes to the gaming industry at large: the idea that it’s OK to ask people to spend money on an unfinished game. Yes, that’s right: That thing you complain about all the time? When Big Game X arrives in your living room in pieces with a set of instructions that reads “Umm, oops”? Yeah, Minecraft basically did that. And everybody was fine with it. Why?

Simple: Notch was upfront about it. He never claimed that his game was complete. It’s a beta. It’s far from finished. There will be problems. Since that first humble build, Minecraft has improved by leaps and bounds, and the fans have been along for the whole ride. Minecraft, then, exemplifies the idea that there’s no such thing as a “finished” game anymore. And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

When you’re building the same game from the ground-up for years on end, it’s easy to lose perspective. A particular mechanic or idea devoured months of your life, after all. It has to be fun. Why wouldn’t it be? That’s where a constant stream of fan feedback comes in handy. It keeps developers honest. For better or worse, fans aren’t afraid to hop on the forums and caps-lock-vomit a 2000-word diatribe that essentially boils down to “This fucking sucks.”

Minecraft made a tidal-wave-sized splash, but I don’t think we’ve even begun to see ensuing the ripples that’ll affect the gaming industry for years to come.

Therein lies the potential of open development. Sure, some developers will abuse it, but – frankly – plenty already do, so why not fully embrace the positives as well as the negatives? Minecraft proudly bears that torch. Naysayers may think it’s going to burn down the whole house, but just wait a few years. In the age of MMOs, free-to-play, and constant connectedness, “finished” games are on their deathbed anyway. That antiquated expectation’s only putting a limit on how much games can improve. Fortunately, Minecraft has now laid down an excellent blueprint, and – more importantly – it’s shown that it works.

Play, create, share

When LittleBigPlanet was first announced, it was supposed to set the world on fire. (Not literally, of course – as incredible as adorable little Sackamajigs grinning wildly and saying, “The voice tells me to burn things” would be…) But it hasn’t. It’s seen decent success, yeah, but the number of gamers who love to destroy still far outweighs the contingent that looks to constantly create.

Part of that, I think, lies in the division between playstyles in games like LBP, Modnation Racers, and Microsoft’s Kodu. You create and then you play. Sure, the interfaces for creation are far more intuitive than, say, cracking a textbook and then cracking yourself right in the brain until – tah-dah! – you know how to code, but they’re not quite the game. That is to say, it’s still a means to an end. For many players, the appeal isn’t in painstakingly constructing some labyrinthine maze of hop and boppery. It’s about experiencing the finished products of the relatively small percentage of folks who do dig that stuff.

Enter Minecraft. In short, it filled in that abyssal canyon between playing and creating. The two are always one-in-the-same. While, say, LBP is a platformer/racer/puzzler/etc in which you can also create levels, Minecraft puts creation front-and-center. Of course, that may be changing with the arrival of dragons that sound like the end result of a night of passion between Skyrim and a bulldozer (don’t think about it), but there’s no doubting what gave the game its initial appeal.

Lol, PC gaming

No two ways about: Big-budget triple-A gaming on PC is in shambles. Pirates plunder everything that’s not bolted down, in a safe, and wired to explode if someone so much as thinks about plucking a cookie from the cookie jar, and many publishers aren’t even trying anymore. Inexplicable delays, glitch-ridden ports, infuriating interfaces, obnoxious DRM – the writing’s on the wall.

A couple years ago, I would have told you that PC was circling the drain as a gaming platform. It wasn’t “dead” – as many people like to say – but the future certainly wasn’t looking too bright. PC needed something. Anything. Its old identity as hottest hotrod on the block wasn’t cutting it anymore. The PC gaming master race was in danger of ending up in one of those overly sentimental wildlife preserve commercials.

Minecraft, in part, helped provide PC with a renewed sense of identity. Granted, it definitely didn’t do it single-handedly. Hundreds – maybe even thousands – of other indies shouldered their own portion of the weight. But those games were the arms, legs, and sexy, sexy clavicles. Minecraft was the face. It forced people to pay attention. It carried the widespread appeal needed to validate the indie movement not only in the eyes of hardcore PC fanatics, but with people who barely touched games at all.

Minecraft, in part, helped provide PC with a renewed sense of identity. It forced people to pay attention.

The PC scene and the indie scene, of course, are not intrinsically linked. There is, however, tons of overlap, and both sides had a new success story to rally behind in Minecraft. Did it overshadow a few other equally deserving indies? Probably. But in the long run, that level of explosure will prove more gift and less curse.

And odds are, Minecraft will be there to see the day when it does. Sure, Mojang’s just about to rip off the “beta” Band-Aid and reveal a tattoo that says “Done! And also dragons for some reason,” but it’s not even close to stopping. As Notch himself put it: “It’s a bit tricky to really do a release for Minecraft as we keep updating it all the time… We’ll keep adding features after the release as well, so it’s really more of a milestone when we finally get rid of the Beta label, and some kind of goal for us to work towards.”

Where will it end up? Who knows? But winning a truckload of awards and revolutionizing the gaming industry as we know it before officially launching, I’d say, is a pretty decent place to start.

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12 Comments

  1. Mineral4r7s

    Its not true. In MineCraft you never had the feeling it is an unfinished game. You had the feeling that you get shitloads of updates for free after paying 15 bucks to a game you spent way more time on than lets say call of duty.

    Thats it. Its not the part where you think oh wow its an unfinished games lets support the makers! NO! Its because of the low price, the shitload of updates. by the way the game crashes were even scarcer then some so called AAA++++++++++++ titles.

    Rage *cough*

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Mike

    If I want to build stuff I’ll get some LEGO.

    I can’t think of anything I’ve got less motivation to play. The dictionary definition of the word mundane. It’s a completely retarded concept: LOOK! I build something in low-res, blocky, crude design and you can look around in it!!

    #sofuckingwhat

    #2 3 years ago
  3. YoungZer0

    Minecraft is nothing more than Sims for Men.

    With less depth.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Patashnik

    @2 if you want to build something out of Lego on the same kind of scale as Minecraft will allow, it would cost you small fortune.

    I can’t say I’m a huge Minecraft fan as such – but you can’t deny it’s a simple concept, wonderfully executed.

    Respect where respect is due.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. mongbatstar

    Minecraft is great if you’re not lacking in imagination.

    @3 Can’t even begin to find the chain from Minecraft to the sims, Skyrim has more in common with the Sims than Minecraft.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Mike

    Just shows that gamers are passive obsessives. Maybe without the passive.

    I respect notch for the scope of the software (it’s not a game) and the idea, but I will ever use it.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Mineral4r7s

    I love minecraft. its a great game. A game where your imagination makes the fun and not the scripts of so called AAA titles.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. sg1974

    VG247′s editorial how-to guide:

    1. Start with the title “How [X] changed*/reshaped* the gaming industry”
    2. Choose value for X.
    3. Delete * to taste.
    4. Now think of some things to say.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Lounds

    Minecraft for me is about the communit, I play with my work friends on a server at my mates house and we love it. “just one more block”.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. DarkElfa

    @8, Back under your bridge asshat, that way we can blow the bitch up on top of you.

    You don’t like VG247 or the way it does articles, STFU or GTFO.

    Preferably both.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. voguevoguevogue

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    #11 3 years ago
  12. DrDamn

    From what I can see the article is a little premature. Minecraft has done so well largely because of the game it is and not the approach it has taken. I think we need to see other major titles work well with the same sort of approach before the re-shaping of the games industry is really applicable.

    #12 3 years ago

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    Oxenfree is a supernatural teen thriller from some of the team behind Telltale Games’ award-winning adventures. New indie Night School Studios unveiled Oxenfree at GDC 2015. It tells the story of a group of friends who accidentally open a “ghostly rift” at an overnight party on the coast. Night School, which is made up of […]

  • PS4 global sales now stand at over 20.2 million

    The PS4 has sold 20.2 million units worldwide. Sony announced the new PS4 sales milestone at GDC 2015 today. It’s a hell of an achievement and salt in the wounds for Microsoft, which hasn’t updated us on Xbox One sales since it shipped “almost” 10 million back in November last year, and has fallen back […]

  • PS4 VR headset Morpheus out in 2016, capable of 120 FPS – video

    Sony’s VR headset Project Morpheus has some impressive grunt. Virtual reality and Morpheus were the heart of Sony’s GDC 2015 presentation today, ahead of its newly announced first-half 2016 comemrcial launch. SCE Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida detailed the headset’s impressive capabilities, notably the fact that it can handle 120 FPS VR games. The PS4 […]

  • Papo & Yo developer making a VR game about dinosaurs

    Some days you write a headline and it makes you so happy that that you have to do a little chair dance, you know what I mean? Papo & Yo developer Minority Media, whom I would personally go to the wall for after they cut out my heart and stomped on it via the medium […]

  • Wasteland 2, Shovel Knight and more in big ole bunch of indies coming to Xbox One

    Xbox One owners are about to receive a pile of great new indie games. At GDC 2015, Microsoft revealed a list of new indie games headed to Xbox One. Some of these titles have already released on other platforms, so it looks like Microsoft has really relaxed the parity clause of ID@Xbox – or perhaps […]

  • Here’s an indie VR game made with Unreal Engine 4

    GDC 2015 is blowing up with indie games, VR and Unreal Engine 4, so here’s a video combining all three. Loading Human is a virtual reality adventure from indie developer Untold Games. It’s in the works for Mac and PC, and Sony has given an early green light for Project Morpheus, too, so expect it […]

  • GTA Online: Daily Objectives and Adversary Mode coming next week

    Heists aren’t the only thing coming to GTA Online next week: players can also expect Adversary Modes, new Daily Objectives and other Freemode activities. GTA Online’s Adversary Modes are new PvP modes which feature a range of competitive challenges and will unlock as players progress through Heists. Here’s a rundown straight from Rockstar: Come Out […]

  • Syndicate is the latest free game download on Origin

    The latest free title to be added to EA’s Origin service is 1993′s Syndicate. For a limited time, you can download the game for free and keep it, much like previous titles such as Theme Hospital. The isometric, real-time, tactical-action game was developed by Bullfrog Productions and released in June 1993. It is a favorite […]

  • Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen now available

    The Ancient Labyrinth DLC for Lords of the Fallen is now available for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It will run you $7.99 and builds upon the existing lore, characters, and storyline. Have a look at some new screenshots in the gallery below.

  • Shadowrun Online gets a name change and release date

    Shadowrun Online developer Cliffhanger Productions has announced the game’s name has been changed to Shadowrun Chronicles: Boston Lockdown and a release date for April has been set. The new title was formed via the developer and its Kickstarter backers, with the goal being to let those unfamiliar with the game know by the title alone […]

  • Amazon hosting Rockstar and 2K Games sale

    Amazon is hosting a Rockstar Games and 2K Games sale with discounts Max Payne titles, Bully and more. Here’s just some of the offerings listed: Manhunt 2 PC Download $3.00 Max Payne 3 PC Download $4.00 Bully: Scholarship Edition PC Download $3.00 LA Noire Xbox 360 $2.95 L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition PC Download $6.00 […]

  • Destiny weekly reset video shows off Inferno Crucible gameplay

    We have a gameplay video featuring Inferno Crucible gameplay featured in the Destiny weekly reset for you. In it, Arekkz Gaming gives you a look at Inferno Crucible and goes over the various intricacies. You can read up on the weekly reset through the links.

  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2 Episode 2 available from today

    Episode 2 for Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is now available. If you’ve purchased the Complete Season, you’ll be able to download Episode 2 on PS3, PS4 and Xbox One. Steam players should see the episode go live around 9-10pm PST, and Xbox 360 owners should be able to download very early tomorrow morning, per Capcom […]

  • Here’s a sneak peek video for Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide

    Fatshark Games has released a sneak peek video for its upcoming Games Workshop title, Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide. Vermintide is a FPS, co-op action title coming to PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and its set during the End Times of the Warhammer universe in the city of Ubersreik. Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare video shows Ascendance DLC early access weapon

    As you know, Xbox Season Pass holders now have early access to the Ascendance DLC Pack bonus weapons for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Now you can watch a trailer for the weapon. The OHM directed energy hybrid weapon can switch between an LMG and Shotgun “on the fly,” and it also includes the OHM-Werewolf […]

  • March PS Plus games include OlliOlli 2, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, more

    March PlayStation Plus titles have popped up on the PS Plus page. Noticed by NeoGAF user skynidas, the titles include: OlliOlli2 (PS4/VITA) Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PS4) Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty (PS4) Counterspy (PS4/PS3) Papo & Yo (PS3) Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment (PS3) A notice has also been posted on the EU PS […]

  • Sci-fi horror game Caffeine will release on Xbox One, PS4 alongside PC – new trailer

    Caffeine creator Dylan Browne has announced the Unreal Engine 4 game will be released on Xbox One. The game will be published through Microsoft’s Indie Program. As previously announced, it is also coming to PC and and now PlayStation 4. Caffeine is a sci-fi horror game which stars a young boy who has been abandoned […]

  • Xbox 360 Preview program invites going out this month

    Much like the Xbox One Preview program, starting early this month, invites for the Xbox 360 Preview program will start rolling out. Select invitees will be able to join program directly from their Xbox 360. A special Xbox Live message will be sent, directing users to head over to their Settings page. Further instructions are […]

  • Tron: Legacy director in negotiations for Gran Turismo film

    Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski is said to be in early negotiations to direct the Gran Turismo film. This is according to the Hollywood Reporter, which states Michael De Luca is still slated as one of the producers alongside Matt Milam, Dana Brunetti, Josh Bratman, DeVon Franklin and Elizabeth Cantillon. Plot details are still unknown […]

  • Fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation is available for download

    The Trigger, which is is the fifth add-on pack for Alien: Isolation, is available to download from today. In it, players will “compete against the clock” across three new maps in Survivor Mode. Set before the events of the main game, players step into the shoes of Sevastopol Station’s Ricardo who will do what he […]

  • HBO Go app now available on PlayStation 4

    Sony has announced the HBO Go app will be made available for download later today for PlayStation 4. The app works just like the PS version. Now you can watch True Detective, Game of Thrones, Veep and more through your console. Information on installation is available through the PS Blog.

  • Skyrim mods no longer restricted to 100MB in size

    Bethesda has announced a beta for Creation Kit update 1.9.33, lifts the 100MB size restriction for Skyrim mod makers. The beta is for both Skyrim’s PC launcher and the Creation Kit which will allow for unlimited file sizes. Here are the notes: Creation Kit 1.9.33 Update Creation Kit now supports unlimited file sizes for mods […]

  • Mad Max release date set for September, PS3 and Xbox 360 versions canned

    Mad Max from Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios has been given a September release date, along with the new of a last-gen cancellation. The axing of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions were announced via Game Informer. Mad Max is the magazine’s featured game for the April issue. Avalanche, according GI, nixed development on […]

  • MGS 5: The Phantom Pain out in September, Kojima “closing the loop” on saga

    Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain will be released in September, according to an IGN Italy video, which also features Hideo Kojima discussing “With Metal Gear Solid 5, I’m finally “closing the loop” on the Metal Gear saga. The video has since been removed, but an image cap of the date is posted above. […]

  • Forza Horizon 2 Rockstar Energy Car Pack now available

    The Rockstar Energy Car Pack for Forza Horizon 2 for Xbox One is available now, alongside the free car for March. The free car is the Acura Integra Type-R, and the Rockstar pack included the following vehicles: 2014 Volkswagen Beetle GRC 2015 Subaru WRX STI 1996 BMW 850CSi 2015 Jaguar XFR-S 1970 Volkswagen #1107 Desert […]

  • 3DS firmware update kills web browser exploit

    Nintendo has issued a 3DS firmware update which fixes a web browser exploit that was being used to run pirated Game Boy Color ROMs since January as well as inject code within downloadable games. Another piece of code, per Eurogamer, changed the setting on the handheld to make it region-free. The exploit was only available […]

  • Unreal Tournament video shows updated textures on Outpost 23

    The latest footage from Epic’s new Unreal Tournament has surfaced, and it shows off the game’s first high-textured map which is called Outpost 23. As you can see from Zaccubus’ video, its the same are which Epic showed in the flythrough video from last year, only with updated textures and some new areas outside. The […]

  • Final add-on for Sunset Overdrive arrives in April

    The final add-on for Sunset Overdrive, Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machines, will be released in April. On April 1 to be exact. No, that’s not an April Fool’s joke from Insomniac Games either. Below, you can watch a fist-look at the new story, area, and traversal mechanic.

  • Heroes of the Storm playable at EGX Rezzed

    Heroes of the Storm will be playable at EGX Rezzed. This will be the first UK public hands-on with the online team brawler. Blizzard will also host giveaways and friendly tournaments at its stand. Tickets for all three days of Rezzed are still available, and you can purchase a pass through the official website. EGX […]

  • PES 2015 Data Pack 4 coming next week with Winter Transfers, new faces

    Data Pack 4 for Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 has been dated, and it updates the game with Winter Transfers, new player faces, and additional stadiums. The latest free update contains real-time player transfers made within the January window, and player ratings have also been updated. Additionally, a number of improved likenesses to key players will […]

  • Here’s the changelog for Dragon Age: Inquisition Patch 5

    Notes for upcoming Patch 5 for Dragon Age: Inquisition have been posted, noting improvements to gameplay and stability, and the new features outlined back in early February. Along with the new party storage system added to the Undercroft at Skyhold, players also have the ability to adjust the size of subtitles. Below you will find […]

  • Game of Thrones, Mortal Kombat X, Batman mobile games on the way

    Warner Bros. has announced free-to-play mobile titles spanning its DC Comics, Mortal Kombat and Game of Thrones properties. The following five new games under development are: Mortal Kombat X from NetherRealm Studios: The game blends fighting and card collection with cinematic gameplay and Fatalities. Play as both classic and fighters, and if you own the […]

  • Win! Beta access to new MMORPG Skyforge and DLC worth $70

    We have ten Wrath of the Gods Founders Packs to giveaway for new RPG Skyforge, worth over $70. All you need to do to win a Wrath of the Gods pack is enter your details in the form below and we’ll pick 10 winners at random on Thursday, March 5, after 3pm GMT. Skyforge is […]

  • PC gaming expected to be worth $35 billion by 2018

    PC gaming is alive and well. In fact, it’s expected to be worth $35 billion by 2018. According to game-business group Open Gaming Alliance, the PC gaming industry is expected to grow beyond its current $26 billion worth and to a massive $35 billion by the year 2018. The information is based on data collected […]