The Minecraft logo
4J Studios ( Xbox 360)
Microsoft Studios (Xbox 360)
|Designer(s)|| Markus "Notch" Persson (2009-2011)
Jens "Jeb" Bergensten
Nathan "Dinnerbone" Adams
|Artist(s)|| Kristoffer Zetterstrand
Markus "Junkboy" Toivonen
|Composer(s)||Daniel "C418" Rosenfeld|
|Release date(s)||PC (Java)
|Media/ distribution||Download, in-browser|
Minecraft is a sandbox indie game originally created by Swedish programmer Markus "Notch" Persson and later developed and published by Mojang. It was publicly released for the PC on May 17, 2009, as a developmental alpha version and, after gradual updates, was published as a full release version on November 18, 2011. A version for Android was released a month earlier on October 7, and an iOS version was released on November 17, 2011. On May 9, 2012, the game was released on Xbox 360 as an Xbox Live Arcade game, co-developed by 4J Studios. All versions of Minecraft receive periodic updates.
The creative and building aspects of Minecraft allow players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, gathering resources, crafting, and combat. Gameplay in its commercial release has two principal modes: survival, which requires players to acquire resources and maintain their health and hunger; and creative, where players have an unlimited supply of resources, the ability to fly, and no health or hunger. A third gameplay mode named hardcore is the same as survival, differing only in difficulty; it is set to hardest setting and respawning is disabled, forcing players to delete their worlds upon death.
Minecraft received five awards from the 2011 Game Developers Conference: it was awarded the Innovation Award, Best Downloadable Game Award, and the Best Debut Game Award from the Game Developers Choice Awards; and the Audience Award, as well as the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, from the Independent Games Festival in 2011. In 2012, Minecraft was awarded a Golden Joystick Award in the category Best Downloadable Game. As of April 8, 2013, the game has sold over 10 million copies on PC and as of January 22, 2013, over 20 million copies across all platforms.
Minecraft is an open world game that has no specific goals for the player to accomplish, allowing players a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game. However, there is an optional achievement system. The gameplay by default is first person, but players have the option to play in third person mode. The core gameplay revolves around breaking and placing blocks. The game world is essentially composed of rough 3D objects—mainly cubes—that are arranged in a fixed grid pattern and represent different materials, such as dirt, stone, various ores, water, and tree trunks. While players can move freely across the world, objects and items can only be placed at fixed locations relative to the grid. Players can gather these material blocks and place them elsewhere, thus allowing for various constructions.
At the start of the game, the player is placed on the surface of a procedurally generated and virtually infinite game world. Players can walk across the terrain consisting of plains, mountains, forests, caves, and various water bodies. The world is divided into biomes ranging from deserts to jungles to snowfields. The in-game time system follows a day and night cycle, with one full cycle lasting 20 real time minutes. Throughout the course of the game, players encounter various non-player characters known as mobs, including animals, villagers and hostile creatures. During the daytime, non-hostile animals, such as cows, pigs, and chickens, spawn. They may be hunted for food and crafting materials. During nighttime and in dark areas, hostile mobs, such as large spiders, skeletons, and zombies, spawn. Some Minecraft-unique creatures have been noted by reviewers, such as the Creeper, an exploding creature that sneaks up on the player, and the Enderman, a creature with the ability to teleport and pick up blocks.
The game world is procedurally generated as players explore it, using a seed which is obtained from the system clock at the time of world creation unless manually specified by the player. Although limits exist on vertical movement both up and down, Minecraft allows for an infinitely large game world to be generated on the horizontal plane, only running into technical problems when extremely distant locations are reached. The game achieves this by splitting the game world data into smaller sections called "chunks", which are only created or loaded into memory when players are nearby.
The game's physics system, in which most solid blocks are unaffected by gravity, has often been described as unrealistic by commentators. Liquids in the game flow from a source, a liquid block which can be removed by placing a solid block in place of it. Complex systems can be built using primitive mechanical devices, electrical circuits, and logic gates built with an in-game material known as redstone.
Minecraft features two alternate dimensions besides the main world – the Nether and The End. The Nether is a hell-like dimension accessed via player-built portals that contain many unique resources and can be used to travel great distances in the overworld. The End is a barren land in which a boss dragon called the Ender Dragon dwells. Killing the dragon cues the game's ending credits, written by Irish author Julian Gough. Players are then allowed to teleport back to their original spawn point in the overworld, and will receive "The End" achievement.
The game primarily consists of two game modes: survival and creative. Unlike in survival mode, in creative mode, players have access to unlimited blocks, regenerate health when damaged, and can fly freely around the world. It also has a changeable difficulty system of four levels; the easiest difficulty (peaceful) removes any hostile creatures that spawn.
In this mode, players have to gather natural resources (such as wood, stone, etc.) found in the environment in order to craft certain blocks and items. Depending on the difficulty, monsters spawn at darker places on the map, necessitating that the player builds a shelter at night. The mode also features a health bar which is depleted by attacks from monsters, falls, drowning, falling into lava, suffocation, starvation, and other events. Players also have a hunger bar, which must be periodically refilled by eating food in-game. Health replenishes when players have a nearly full hunger bar, and also regenerates regardless of fullness if players play on the easiest difficulty.
There are a wide variety of items that players can craft in Minecraft. Players can craft armor, which can help mitigate damage from attacks, while weapons such as swords can be crafted to kill enemies and other animals. Players may acquire different resources to craft tools, such as weapons, armor, food, and various other items. By acquiring better resources, players can craft more effective items. For example, tools such as axes, shovels, or pickaxes, can be used to chop down trees, dig soil, and mine ores, respectively; and tools made out of better resources (such as iron in place of stone) perform their tasks more quickly and can be used more heavily before breaking. Players may also trade goods with villager mobs through a bartering system. Emerald ores are often the currency of the villagers, although some trade with wheat or other materials.
The game has an inventory system and players are limited to the number of items they can carry. Upon dying, items in the players' inventories are dropped, and players respawn at the current spawn point, which is set by default where players begin the game, but can be reset if players sleep in beds in-game. Dropped items can be recovered if players can reach them before they despawn. Players may acquire experience points by killing mobs and other players, mining, smelting ores, breeding animals, and cooking food. Experience can then be spent on enchanting tools, armor and weapons. Enchanted items are generally more powerful, last longer, or have other special effects.
Players may also play in hardcore mode, a variant of survival mode that differs primarily in the game being locked to the hardest gameplay setting as well as featuring permadeath; upon players' death, their world is deleted.
In creative mode, players have access to most of the resources and items in the game through the inventory menu, and can place or remove them instantly. Players, able to fly freely around the game world, do not take environmental or mob damage, and are not affected by hunger. The game mode helps players focus on building and creating large projects.
Adventure mode was added to Minecraft in version 1.3; it was designed specifically so that players could experience user crafted custom maps and adventures. Gameplay is similar to survival mode but introduces various player restrictions such as disabling the ability to place blocks and destroy blocks without the appropriate tools. This is so that players can obtain the required items and experience adventures in the way that the mapmaker intended. Another addition designed for custom maps is the command block; this block allows mapmakers to expand interactions with players through server commands.
Multiplayer on Minecraft is available through player-hosted servers and enables multiple players to interact and communicate with each other on a single world. Players can run their own servers or use a hosting provider. Single player worlds have local area network support, allowing players to join worlds on locally interconnected computers without a server setup. Minecraft multiplayer servers are guided by server operators, who have access to server commands such as setting the time of day and teleporting players around. Operators can also set up restrictions concerning which usernames or IP addresses are allowed to enter the server. Multiplayer servers offer players a wide range of activities, with some servers having their own unique rules and customs. Competitions are available in some servers, in which players can participate in a variety of games, including those resembling The Hunger Games. A gamemode, PvP ( player versus player), may be enabled to allow fighting between players. In 2013 Mojang announced Minecraft Realms, a server hosting service intended to enable children to run server multiplayer games easily and safely.
The developer of Minecraft, Markus "Notch" Persson, began developing the game as an independent project while working for King.com and later jAlbum. He was inspired to create Minecraft by several other games such as Dwarf Fortress, Dungeon Keeper, and later Infiniminer. At the time, he had visualized an isometric 3D building game that would be a cross between his inspirations and had made some early prototypes. Infiniminer heavily influenced the style of gameplay, including the first-person aspect of the game, the "blocky" visual style and the block-building fundamentals. However, unlike Infiniminer, Persson wanted Minecraft to have RPG elements.
Minecraft was released to the public on May 17, 2009, as a developmental "alpha" release. Although Persson maintained a day job with Jalbum.net at first, he later quit in order to work on Minecraft full-time as sales of the alpha version of the game expanded. Persson continued to update the game with releases distributed to users automatically. These updates included features such as new items, new blocks, new mobs, survival mode, and changes to the game's behaviour (e.g., how water flows).
To back the development of Minecraft, Persson set up a video game company, Mojang, with the money earned from the game. On December 11, 2010, Persson announced that Minecraft was entering its beta testing phase on December 20, 2010. He further stated that users who bought the game after this date would no longer be guaranteed to receive all future content free of charge as it "scared both the lawyers and the board." However, bug fixes and all updates leading up to and including the release would still be free. Over the course of the development, Mojang hired several new employees to work on the project.
Mojang moved the game out of beta and released the full version on November 18, 2011. The game has been continuously updated since the release, with changes ranging from new game content to new server hosts. On December 1, 2011, Jens "Jeb" Bergensten took full creative control over Minecraft, replacing Persson as lead developer.
Minecraft's music and sound effects are produced by German composer Daniel "C418" Rosenfeld. The background music in Minecraft is non-lyrical ambient music. On March 4, 2011, Rosenfeld released a soundtrack, titled Minecraft – Volume Alpha; it includes most of the tracks featured in Minecraft, as well as other music not featured in the game. The video game blog Kotaku chose the music in Minecraft as one of the best video game soundtracks of 2011.
|Minecraft – Volume Alpha|
|11.||"Mice on Venus"||4:41|
|23.||"Droopy likes ricochet"||1:36|
|24.||"Droopy likes your face"||1:56|
Personal computer versions
The PC was the original platform for Minecraft; the game runs on multiple operating systems including Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Apart from the main version, there are also other versions of Minecraft available for PC, including Minecraft Classic and Minecraft 4k.
Minecraft Classic is an older version of Minecraft, available online for players. Unlike newer versions of Minecraft, the classic version is free to play, though it is no longer updated. It functions much the same as creative mode, allowing players to build and destroy any and all parts of the world either alone or in a multiplayer server. There are no computer creatures in this mode, and environmental hazards such as lava will not damage players. Some blocks function differently since their behaviour was later changed during development.
Minecraft 4k is a simplified version of Minecraft similar to the classic version that was developed for the Java 4K game programming contest "in way less than 4 kilobytes". The map itself is finite—composed of 64×64×64 blocks—and the same world is generated every time. Players are restricted to placing or destroying blocks, which are randomly located and consist of grass, dirt, stone, wood, leaves, and brick.
Minecraft – Pocket Edition
On August 16, 2011, Minecraft – Pocket Edition was released for the Xperia Play on the Android Market as an early alpha version. It was then released for all other compatible devices on October 8, 2011. An iOS version of Minecraft was released on November 17, 2011. The port concentrates on the creative building and the primitive survival aspect of the game, and does not contain all the features of the PC release. On his Twitter account, Jens Bergensten noted that the Pocket Edition of Minecraft is written in C++ and not Java, due to iOS not being able to support Java. Gradual updates are periodically released to bring the port closer to the PC version.
Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
The Xbox 360 version of the game, developed by 4J Studios, was released on May 9, 2012. On March 22, 2012, it was announced that Minecraft would be the flagship game in a new Xbox Live promotion called Arcade NEXT. The game has some features that are exclusive to the Xbox 360 version, including the newly designed crafting system, the control interface, in-game tutorials, split-screen multiplayer, and the ability to play with friends via Xbox Live. The version's crafting interface does not require players to place items in the correct place in a crafting menu. The interface shows the blocks required to craft the selected item, and crafts it if the players have enough blocks. Also, the worlds in the version are not "infinite", and are essentially barricaded by invisible walls. The Xbox 360 version was originally similar in content to older PC versions, but is being gradually updated to bring it closer to the current PC version.
Minecraft: Pi Edition
A port of Minecraft for the Raspberry Pi was officially revealed at MineCon 2012. Mojang stated that the Pi Edition is similar to the Pocket Edition except that it is downgraded to an older version, and with the added ability of using text commands to edit the game world. Players can open the game code and use programming language to manipulate things in the game world. The game was leaked on December 20, 2012, but was quickly pulled off. It was officially released on February 11, 2013.
User-generated content and DLC
A wide variety of user-generated content for Minecraft, such as modifications, texture packs and custom maps, is available for download from the Internet. Modifications of the Minecraft code, called mods, add a variety of gameplay changes, ranging from new blocks, new items, new mobs to entire arrays of mechanisms to craft. The modding community is responsible for a substantial supply of mods, including ones that add to the game elements from Pokémon, Portal, and The Hunger Games. To make mods easier to create and install, Mojang announced in November 2012 that it plans to add an official modding API.
Texture packs that customize the game's graphics are also available. Custom maps have become popular as well. Players can create their own maps, which often contain rules, challenges, puzzles and quests, and share them for others to play. In version 1.4, Mojang added content specifically designed for playing custom maps, such as adventure mode and command blocks.
The Xbox 360 version supports DLC, which is available to purchase via the Xbox Live Marketplace; these content packs contain additional character costumes. Unlike the PC version, however, this version does not support player-made mods, texture packs or custom maps.
On January 12, 2011, Minecraft passed 1 million purchases, less than a month after entering its beta phase. At the same time, the game had no publisher backing and has never been commercially advertised except through word of mouth, and various unpaid references in popular media such as the Penny Arcade webcomic. By April 2011, Persson estimated that Minecraft had made €23 million (US$33 million) in revenue, with 800,000 sales of the alpha version of the game, and over 1 million sales of the beta version. In November 2011, prior to the game's full release, Minecraft beta surpassed 16 million registered users and 4 million purchases. By March 2012, Minecraft had become the 6th best-selling PC game of all time. At the beginning of April 2013, Minecraft broke 10 million sales for PC.
The Xbox 360 version of Minecraft became profitable within the first 24 hours of the game's release when the game broke the Xbox Live sales records with 400,000 players online. Within a week of being on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Minecraft sold upwards of 1 million copies. GameSpot announced in December 2012 that Minecraft sold over 4.48 million copies since the game debuted on Xbox LIVE Arcade in May 2012. In 2012, Minecraft was the most purchased title on Xbox Live Arcade; it was also the fourth most played title on Xbox Live based on average unique users per day. In addition, Minecraft: Pocket Edition has reached a figure of 7.3 million in sales bringing the total sales for Minecraft across all platforms to over 20 million.
83.63% (Xbox 360)
56.00% (Pocket Edition)
82/100 (Xbox 360)
53/100 (Pocket Edition)
9/10 (Xbox 360)
|Game Informer||9.25/10 (PC)
8.75/10 (Xbox 360)
7.0/10 (Xbox 360)
8.5/10 (Xbox 360)
Minecraft has received widespread critical acclaim. The game has been praised for the creative freedom it grants players in-game, as well as the ease of enabling emergent gameplay. Critics have praised Minecraft's complex crafting system, commenting that it is an important aspect of the game's open-ended gameplay. Most publications were impressed by the game's "blocky" graphics, with IGN describing them as "instantly memorable". Reviewers also liked the game's adventure elements, noting that the game creates a good balance between exploring and building. The game's multiplayer feature has been generally received favorably, with IGN commenting that "adventuring is always better with friends."
Many reviewers have criticized the game's lack of in-game tutorials and instructions, making it difficult for new players to learn how to play the game. IGN was disappointed about the troublesome steps needed to set up multiplayer servers, calling it a "hassle". Critics also noted visual glitches that occur periodically. GameSpot maintained that the game has an "unfinished feel", adding that "some game elements seem incomplete or thrown together in haste."
A review of the alpha version, by Scott Munro of the Daily Record, called it "already something special" and urged readers to buy it. Jim Rossignol of Rock, Paper, Shotgun also recommended the alpha of the game, calling it "a kind of generative 8-bit Lego Stalker". On September 17, 2010, gaming webcomic Penny Arcade began a series of comics and news posts about the addictiveness of the game.
The Xbox 360 version was generally received positively by critics, but did not receive as much praise as the PC version. Although reviewers were disappointed by the lack of features such as mod support and content from the PC version, they acclaimed the port's addition of a tutorial and in-game tips and crafting recipes, saying that they make the game more user-friendly.
Minecraft – Pocket Edition received mixed reviews from critics. Although reviewers appreciated the game’s intuitive controls, they were disappointed by the lack of content. The inability in the game to collect resources and craft items, as well as the game’s lack of hostile mobs and limited types of blocks, were especially criticized.
In July 2010, PC Gamer listed Minecraft as the fourth-best game to play at work. In December of that year, Good Game selected Minecraft as their choice for Best Downloadable Game of 2010, Gamasutra named it the eighth best game of the year as well as the eighth best indie game of the year, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun named it the "game of the year". Indie DB awarded the game the 2010 Indie of the Year award as chosen by voters, in addition to two out of five Editor's Choice awards for Most Innovative and Best Singleplayer Indie. It was also awarded Game of the Year by PC Gamer UK. The game was nominated for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, Technical Excellence, and Excellence in Design awards at the March 2011 Independent Games Festival and won the Grand Prize along with community-voted Audience Award. At Game Developers Choice Awards 2011, Minecraft won awards in the categories for Best Debut Game, Best Downloadable Game and Innovation Award, winning every award for which it was nominated. It has also won GameCity's videogame arts prize. On May 5, 2011, Minecraft was selected as one of the 80 games that would be displayed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of The Art of Video Games exhibit that opened on March 16, 2012. At the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards, Minecraft won the award for Best Independent Game and was nominated in the Best PC Game category. In 2012, at the British Academy Video Games Awards, Minecraft was nominated in the GAME Award of 2011 category and Notch received The Special Award. In 2012, Minecraft XBLA was awarded a Golden Joystick Award in the Best Downloadable Game category, and a TIGA Games Industry Award in the Best Arcade Game category.
MineCon is an official Minecraft convention held annually. The first one was held on November 18–19, 2011, at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. All 4,500 tickets for MineCon 2011 were sold out by October 31. The event included the official launch of Minecraft; keynote speeches, including one by Persson; building and costume contests; Minecraft-themed breakout classes; exhibits by leading gaming and Minecraft-related companies; commemorative merchandise; and autograph and picture times with Mojang employees and well-known contributors from the Minecraft community. After MineCon, there was an Into The Nether after-party with electronic musician deadmau5. Free codes were given to every attendee of MineCon that unlocked alpha versions of Mojang's other upcoming game, Scrolls, as well as an additional non-Mojang game, Cobalt, developed by Oxeye Game Studios. Similar events occurred in MineCon 2012, which took place in Disneyland Paris from November 24–25. The tickets for the 2012 event sold out in less than two hours.
A Lego set based on Minecraft called Lego Minecraft was released on June 6, 2012. The set, called "Micro World", centers around the game's default player character and a Creeper. Mojang submitted the concept of Minecraft merchandise to Lego in December 2011 for the Lego Cuusoo program, from which it quickly received 10,000 votes by users, prompting Lego to review the concept. Lego Cuusoo approved the concept in January 2012 and began developing sets based around Minecraft.
Mojang collaborates with Jinx, an online game merchandise store, to sell Minecraft merchandise, such as clothing, foam pickaxes, and toys of creatures in the game. By May 2012, over 1 million dollars were made from Minecraft merchandise sales. T-shirts and socks were the most popular products. In March 2013 Mojang signed a deal with the children's book publisher The Egmont Group to create Minecraft handbooks, annuals, poster books, and magazines.
The possible applications of Minecraft have been discussed extensively, especially in the fields of computer-aided design and education. In a panel at MineCon 2011, a Swedish developer discussed the possibility of using the game to redesign public buildings and parks, stating that rendering using Minecraft was much more user-friendly for the community, making it easier to envision the functionality of new buildings and parks. In 2012, a member of the Human Dynamics group at the MIT Media Lab, Cody Sumter, said that “Notch hasn't just built a game. He's tricked 40 million people into learning to use a CAD program.” Various software has been developed to allow virtual designs to be printed using professional 3D printers or personal printers such as MakerBot and RepRap.
In September 2012, Mojang began the Block By Block project in cooperation with UN Habitat to create real-world environments in Minecraft. The project allows young people who live in those environments to participate in designing the changes they would like to see. Using Minecraft, the community has helped reconstruct the areas of concern, and citizens are invited to enter the Minecraft servers and modify their own neighbourhood. Carl Manneh, Mojang's managing director, called the game "the perfect tool to facilitate this process," adding that “the three-year partnership will support UN-Habitat’s Sustainable Urban Development Network to upgrade 300 public spaces by 2016.” Mojang signed Minecraft building community, FyreUK, to help render the environments into Minecraft. The first pilot project began in Kibera, one of Nairobi’s informal settlements, and is in the planning phase. The Block By Block project is based on an earlier initiative started in October 2011, Mina Kvarter (My Block), which gave young people in Swedish communities a tool to visualize how they wanted to change their part of town. According to Manneh, the project was a helpful way to visualize urban planning ideas without necessarily having a training in architecture. The ideas presented by the citizens were a template for political decisions.
Minecraft has also been used in educational settings. In 2011, an educational organization named MinecraftEdu was formed with the goal of introducing the Minecraft into schools. The group works with Mojang to make the game affordable and accessible to schools. In September 2012, MinecraftEdu said that approximately 250,000 students around the world have access to Minecraft through the company. A wide variety of educational activities involving the game have been developed to teach students various subjects, including history, language arts and science. For an example, one teacher built a world consisting of various historical landmarks for students to learn and explore.