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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

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    A new video for Dying Light has been released, which allows you to hit the Z key to change between day and night. Titles Life and Death in the Quarantine Zone, the interactive story video showcases how the game changes between day and night. Daytime and nighttime are shown side-by-side but the z key allows […]

  • Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare out on PS3, PS4; PC delayed

    The Havoc DLC for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is now available for PlayStation 3 and PS4. Havoc contains the four multiplayer maps Core, Drift, Sideshow, and Urban along with the AE4 directed energy assault rifle, its custom variant, and the Exo Zombies cooperative mode. You can purchase the DLC separately or pick up the […]

  • Here’s a teaser for Resident Evil Revelations 2: Episode 2

    A teaser video for the second episode of Resident Evil Revelations 2 is available, so if you’ve yet to play the first episode, you may want to skip this. Resident Evil Revelations 2′s first episode is out now. Thanks, GamesHQMedia.

  • North American eShop update is full of Donkey Kong games

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with Titan Attacks, Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Country and more. eShop on 3DS Ironfall Invasion Titan Attacks! Donkey Kong Land – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 2 – Virtual Console Donkey Kong Land 3 – Virtual Console Luv Me Buddies Wonderland Around the World […]

  • Venture into the Valley of the Yetis next week in Far Cry 4

    The next batch of Far Cry 4 DLC, Valley of the Yetis, releases in March and Ajay Ghale will be tasked with surviving violent cultists and the mythical Yeti. Apparently the cult is looking for a secret hidden in the valley, and Ajay has discovered their motives. The DLC features co-op with a friend taking […]

  • The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack out for Payday 2, has dino masks

    The 19th DLC pack for Payday 2 title The Butcher’s AK/CAR Mod Pack is available on Steam from today. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and features: 11 new weapon modifications for the AK rifles in the game 11 new weapon modifications for the CAR rifles in the game Four new masks together with their […]

  • Battle Chasers slated for PC, consoles; comic picks up where 2001 storyline left off

    Darksiders creator Joe Madureira and Vigil co-founder Ryan Stefanelli have confirmed a Battle Chasers game and a new comic are in the works at their new studio Airship Syndicate. Speaking to Polygon, Madureira and Stefanelli wouldn’t provide details on the the game, but did divulge it will be an adventure RPG with player-controlled Battle Chasers […]

  • Shovel Knight, Hotline Miami 2 discounted for Sony’s annual Spring Fever Sale

    Sony is hosting its annual Spring Fever Sale which runs for eight weeks and features a new title each week. The sale starts next week on March 3 with the launch of Helldivers. Here’s just a few items included in the sale: HELLDIVERS (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March 3 Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PS4/PS3/PS Vita) March […]

  • The gold Super Mario amiibo is a Walmart exclusive

    The Super Mario Gold amiibo which surfaced via a CPSIA certificate earlier this month will be a Walmart-exclusive, Nintendo has announced. The gold-colored Mario amiibo will be released the same day as the Mario Party 10 game for Wii U and will run you $12,96 at 3,000 participating Walmart stores in the US. Along with […]

  • Here’s an overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

    As new gameplay overview trailer for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, culled from the Active Time Report, stream has been sent over by Square Enix. The video provides a look at the history and environments of the Kingdom of Orience; the 14 memebers of Class Zero; the battle system with customizable magic spells; and the ability […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 video gives you a look at the game’s wildlife

    A new video shown by Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata during the latest Active Time Report, contains a look at the game’s wildlife and ecology. You can watch the full stream two hour stream through here, or a smaller clip courtesy of GamesHQMedia below.

  • Lionhead ventures into the free-to-play space with Fable Legends

    Fable Legends will be free-to-play when it launches on PC and Xbox One. According to Lionhead, the one versus four cross-platform title borrows from MOBA games such as Dota 2 and League of Legends as it will contain free, rotating heroes which will be added to a roster for a two week period. Once the […]

  • Win! 5 pairs of tickets to the Call of Duty European Championships

    We have five pairs of tickets to giveaway for the Call of Duty European Championships, taking place in London this weekend. The event takes place this Saturday February 28 and Sunday March 1 at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Winners can watch teams will go head to head for a $10,000 prize pot […]

  • Republique Remastered has released on Mac and PC

    Republique Remastered, which was announced earlier this month, is now available for Mac and PC. The game is 20% off through Steam, GOG and the Humble Store for $19.99 until March 4. Thereafter, it will run you $24.99. The Remastered edition contains all five episodes of the game, with 1-3 available now and the remaining […]

  • LA Cops coming to Xbox One in March

    Isometric shooter LA Cops is coming to Xbox One on March 13. Already on Steam Early Access, the game looks like it’s been heavily inspired by Hotline Miami. Walk into a room, open fire, leave bloody puddles in your wake. It’s being published by Team 17. Check out the video below for some 70s cop […]

  • We have $500 of Steam Wallet funds to giveaway!

    We’re giving away 10 Steam Wallet prizes worth $50 each to VG247 readers, courtesy of Bundle Stars. All you need to do to be in with a chance of winning $50 Steam credit is to enter your details below. Join the Bundle Stars Steam group for entry in the sweepstake, and gain extra entries for […]

  • Lapsed Final Fantasy 14 players tempted back with 10 day freebie

    Square is offering lapsed FF 14: A Realm Reborn players a chance to come back to the game for 10 days worth of free adventuring. Provided you’ve already bought and registered an account you’ll be able to play free of charge from Feb 27 to March 9. Square wants you to sample the new content […]

  • Advanced Warfare: Sledgehammer looking at “opportunities” to recreate classic Call of Duty maps

    Sledgehammer Games has told VG247 it’s looking at opportunities to recreate classic Call of Duty maps in Advanced Warfare. According to co-founder Michael Condrey, players of the latest Havoc DLC are asking how Exo abilities and verticality can be added to classic franchise maps. “We’re taking a look at some opportunities to really highlight the […]

  • GTA Online reader playlist week 7: and the winner is…

    Stuff was shot. But only one player emerged victorious. GTA Online player e031271 won last night’s VG247 reader playlist, beating myself, Matt and regulars solidorwot and Revolting. Congratulations, Mr e031271. A deserved victory. We play a GTA Online playlist in an open session every Wednesday on PS4, because it’s both funny and fun. Anyone’s welcome […]

  • Leaked screens reveal The Reef as Destiny’s new “social space”

    A handful of leaked Destiny screens seem to confirm that The Reef location will be the new social space in Destiny. The new addition is likely to be revealed as part of the upcoming House of Wolves expansion. Reddit user Megamanexe4 dropped the screens on the site earlier this morning, along with grabs that reveal […]

  • Darksiders creator teases Battle Chasers game

    Joe Madureira, creator of Darksiders, has released art that strongly suggests a Battle Chasers game is in the works. Battle Chasers was a comic book from the late 1990s that suffered notorious production problems between issues and was never finished. Madureira formed Airship Syndicate after the collapse of THQ, where he co-created Darksiders. His latest […]

  • Infamous video nasty Axe recreated in GTA 5

    The trailer for notorious horror movie Axe has been recreated in GTA 5. The shot for shot remake is the work of gigerbrick who has previously recreated exploitation flicks like Machete and Hostel using Lego. The original Axe movie was banned in 1984 in the UK but passed with cuts in the late 1990s. Movie […]

  • Payday 2 for PS4 and Xbox One includes “a year’s worth of paid DLC” for free

    Payday 2: Crimewave Edition will include a year’s worth of paid DLC from the PC version of the game for free. The new-gen version of the game will be available June 2015, and includes almost all of the paid and free DLC released so far for Overkill’s popular first-person shooter. That DLC includes The Big […]

  • Yes, Mortal Kombat X will require Xbox Live Gold or PS Plus

    Mortal Kombat X won’t bypass Microsoft and Sony’s premium online play requirements. Reports that Mortal Kombat X wouldn’t require PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold started circling earlier this week thanks to a communications error. Answering fan questions on Twitter, producer Shaun Himmerick accidentally gave the impression that premium console subs would not be required […]

  • This is what Destiny players most want next

    Destiny patch 1.1.1 has resolved or at least addressed a number of complaints voiced by the community, but there are plenty more. des Destiny community manage David “Deej” Dague has put out a call for Guardians to share their concerns – or rather, what they think the community is most concerned about. “Set aside your […]

  • Google AI can play games now, so we’re probably all going to die

    Google has brought us one step closer to our inevitable slaughter or enslavement by machine overlords. Google has developed an AI that can learn to play video games and devise brand new strategies. Let me just rephrase that: Google has created an AI that can teach itself new skills, including how to play video games. […]

  • First footage of Renowned Explorers: International Society surfaces

    Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game from the team behind Reus, and it looks great. Renowned Explorers was announced almost a full year ago, but has been pretty quiet since then. Developer Abbey games has now announced that the game has hit alpha, and will be open to select testers soon. You […]

  • Cities: Skylines developer commits to mod support

    Cities: Skylines will fully support the modding community. Hailing from famously mod-friendly publisher Paradox, Cities: Skylines is a no-brainer for mod support – especially as a lack of mod support is one of the things SimCity was so heavily criticised for when it firts launched. In the developer diary below, Paradox’s Jakob Munthe is joined […]

  • Nosgoth update adds Vanguard, many fixes

    Nosgoth, the free-to-play multiplayer brawler set in the Legacy of Kain universe, has been given a significant makeover. The major feature of the latest Nosogth game update is a new playable human character called the Vanguard. “Equipped with mighty throwing axes and a shield, the Vanguard can take more punishment than any human class that […]

  • Xbox Live Gold 12 month sub $40 on Microsoft store

    Microsoft is offering $20 off 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions at the moment. An Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription will normally set you back $60, but a Microsoft Store promotion has it on offer for $40. The offer is restricted to the US store. Although you can opt to grab your sub as […]

  • Tomb Raider movie script to be penned by TMNT writer

    Tomb Raider will be Evan Daugherty’s second reboot of an established universe. The Tomb Raider movie reboot has signed on a writer and a distributor. Deadline reports Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent, Snow White And The Huntsman and G.I. Joe 3 writer Daugherty will write the film. Additionally, Warner Bros. has signed on to distribute, […]

  • Shelter 2 pre-orders open, launch trailer debuts early

    Shelter 2 is a game in which you are a mother lynx and must protect a den of kittens. Yes, it’s delightful. Shelter 2 is coming to Mac and PC on March 9. Pre-orders are now available on Steam at 10% off or on GOG.com with a free skin and soundtrack, or 20% off if […]

  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]