Sorry, Notch - Minecraft Is Actually Bigger And Better Than Ever
Yesterday, entirely unprompted, the ‘creator’ of Minecraft, Markus "Notch" Persson sounded out an opinion anyone who’s had any connection to online culture in the last five years could refute. “I’m not one to speak ill of the dead, but yeah”, he starts. “Minecraft’s a little bit dead”. It’s an interesting statement to make, primarily because nobody asked, but equally, it’s interesting to see a man who poured a lot into the creation of the cultural phenomenon denounce the game as potentially lacking in attention.
Of course, Minecraft’s cultural grasp has changed and shifted over its many years, but it’s never really gone away, even in its moments of production dormancy. It’s incredibly confusing to see the likes of Notch suggest that Minecraft could be on its way out, presuming he still stays up to date with the game - because he couldn’t be more wrong. Minecraft has never been better than right here, right now.
The Yog Years
For many, Minecraft began in its beta when it was picked up by the new wave of entertainers in the shape of Let’s Players on YouTube. Syndicate, DanTDM, and The Yogscast brought a world of new players to the game, and pushed Minecraft over the threshold of indie game to cultural phenomenon. The ultimate sandbox, Minecraft represented ultimate creativity and the limitlessness of thought. Adventure maps, mechanics mods, and endless jumping puzzles made the game the biggest deal on the internet. It buried Minecraft into the childhoods of the very-online of the time, and its popularity was indicative of the gaming market needing something that was truly limitless. Minecraft was that something - but it wasn’t done yet.
The official launch of Minecraft 1.0 brought a close to the era of beta and celebrated the game’s elevated status as a complete game. Of course, the updates would never stop, but the update introduced brewing potions, a hardcore mode, and most crucially the Ender Dragon, that brought a finality to the game that had never before been imagined.
Ever since, updates have rolled out, introducing new mobs, the ability to fire through the air with the help of the Elytra’s wings, and most recently, a complete overhaul to the caving system that had once defined Minecraft.
But interestingly, there was not once a moment where it felt like too much had changed. The game’s creativity options were exemplified by the creativity of the game’s developers, matching every bold step in building with more content to work with. This love of creation was echoed by fans of the game, and while some creators departed from Minecraft content online, there was barely a moment when the game felt it was lacking. And frankly, it hasn’t stopped.
The New Age
The retirement of many YouTube personalities from Minecraft content by many accounts should have doomed the game’s popularity. There’s no doubt the game would have its cult following, but without that active push, it very easily could have tanked. But in the titans’ place came newcomers who have helped to keep Minecraft in its deserved spot at the top. The likes of the members of HermitCraft, an SMP server populated by popular Minecraft YouTubers like Grian, MumboJumbo, and GoodTimesWithScar, have helped to foster a new community of fans who watch on as a whole host of different creators build to their heart’s content in an extended continuity of wholesomeness.
The server even brings together some creators who have been around since the very start of the game like BDoubleO100 and Etho, not only tying Minecraft to the stump at the top of the mountain but two different eras of the game’s communities together.
This new wave of content brought even the biggest online personalities to the game for the first time years after its release - YouTube's biggest personality PewDiePie finally played the game in an extended series that roped in tens of millions of views with every passing episode, turning legions of fans onto Minecraft in their hundreds of thousands.
Plus, with the rise of Twitch streamers, Minecraft has been defined for youngsters of the new internet age by the likes of Dream and TommyInnit. It’s hard to argue if this is a result of Twitch or simply indicative of the fact that Minecraft has struck a degree of timelessness - but either way, the numbers are all there like they never have been before.
Minecraft saw over 156 million average players last month, on a steep incline of between three and six million new players each month. Plus, the revenue of the game increased by almost $100 Million between 2016 and 2020, and vastly further after Notch left the Mojang team in 2014. The game dominates Twitch categories, still sells hugely in merchandise, and garnered 201 billion views on YouTube in 2020 alone. Plus, as the new update rolls out across Minecraft under the promise of even more to come, there’s once again no better time to be playing the game.
It’s hard to say whether Notch’s snide tweet is a result of bitterness or simple misinformation, but either way, he couldn’t be more wrong. The game has performed so well over the years and has seen so many surges in popularity, it’s hard to comprehend if Minecraft has peaked yet, and that certainly isn’t bad for a game that saw its first public release back in 2009. Minecraft is one of the most popular games of all time, and its success has been one of the longest in gaming history. Sorry, Notch, but just because you’re not attached to it any more, doesn’t mean that Minecraft is “dead”. Because as it seems, Minecraft is unkillable.