The very first edition of Minecraft came out in 2009 under the name “Cave Game”. Since then, it has been developed into something much bigger than anyone could have expected. It started as a little survival sandbox game and turned into what is now the most sold video game in history. Obviously, this didn’t happen overnight, and wouldn’t have happened without the massive community that grew around the game.
With Minecraft being fully released in 2011, it deviated from other games being released around that time. Call of Duty, Halo and plenty of other shooter-style games dominated the gaming market at the time, and even with games like Skyrim, which allowed the same “open-world” feel as Minecraft, nothing could compare to the complete freedom it gave. In Minecraft, there was no goal, there was no quest, there was only whatever you wanted to do. This was a massive change from the “go here, do this, go here, do that” feel of many games coming out around the same time.
One of the things that likely made the game so popular was the fact it had such a wide range of options. The creative mode allowed people who were more artistic in nature to design, invent and build whatever their heart desired. The survival mode allowed players to experience a challenge, and hardcore gave players a real trial for those more confident in their abilities. When Redstone was added in 2013, a whole new area of the game began being explored. People were able to create games, within the game itself. This also allowed for traps to be made, turning the usual combat into something much more exciting.
The popularity of Minecraft wasn’t just down to the game itself. Minecraft YouTubers and content creators also played a massive part. Around 2013 - when 1.5 and 1.6 came out - Minecraft YouTubers started to grow. One of the biggest creators around that time was stampylonghead, who as of 2022 has over 700 videos on his “Lovely World” - a Let's Play series that he started in 2012. Another YouTuber was CaptainSparklez, who is famous for his Minecraft parodies such as “Revenge”, based on “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” by Usher and “Fallen Kingdom”, a parody of Viva la Vida by Coldplay. Some of these parodies are even more popular than the originals, causing the already popular game to grow even more.
The Combat Update
Debatably, the 1.9 Combat Update - released in 2016 - was the most controversial Minecraft update. It added an attack strength bar, which meant the player had to time their attacks to get the most damage. It also added shields and caused axes to do more damage than swords, but they swing slower. This meant you could no longer “spam click”, which is still a preferred method of fighting for a lot of players. A lot of servers support from the 1.8 edition, all the way up to the latest ones because of players who want to use the older combat system.
This new update also added elytra, allowed players to gracefully glide around their worlds but also added a huge new expansion to the End. This meant that even after killing the Ender Dragon and the Wither - the game’s two bosses - players still had more to explore.
In 2019, Fortnite was released. A free-to-play, third-person shooter game where you and three teammates try to be the last players standing as the map slowly grows smaller. Many people expected Minecraft’s fame to be overshadowed by this new game, and for a small while, it did. Minecraft was being looked at as “that cringy game you used to play as a kid”, with children growing into teens and wanting to play more mature games. But, that time didn’t last long, with both the Villager update and the Bee update being released that year (1.14 and 1.15), the game continued growing, introducing new players to the game, and also bringing back old ones. With every new update, there is always more to explore, with Cave’s and Cliff’s changing the way mining works.
The variety Minecraft offers to its players played a crucial part in its success, but was also helped by its immense fan base and the community built around it. Every single player, from the kind who use creative to construct colossal build, to the hardcore games, who have survived years in merciless worlds without a single death, each individual player has helped forge Minecraft into what it is today.