Lets be honest, this doesn’t really need a review; but having recently rediscovered my copy of the game, I decided I might as well review it.
Minecraft started out as an indie game (independently developed), released in May 2009, but didn’t really pick up any substantial traction until 2012 (when YouTube changed their algorithms from views-based to total watch-time-based). Now, bear in mind that this was back when gaming videos were still a tiny niche market on YouTube; but when the algorithm became watch-time-based, that all changed: gaming videos are often long, at least fifteen minutes long (with some gaming videos hitting the two or three hour mark), this coupled with the fact that walkthroughs and playthroughs more often than not keep viewers entertained for the entire video, meant that gaming videos suddenly became YouTube’s favourite kind of video.
Pile on top of that Minecraft’s already rapidly growing fanbase, and, as Game Theory’s Matpat put it, “YouTube created an unstoppable storm”
“YouTube created Minecraft, Minecraft created YouTube; YouTube tried to kill Minecraft… Minecraft tried to kill YouTube in return”
The majority of Minecraft’s popularity is based upon it’s fast learning curve; pair that with funny commentary over the video (Captain Sparkles, AntVenom, SkythekidRS (once upon a time), Bajan Canadian and Yogscast). Minecraft dominated the internet and, for a time, the majority of gaming videos on the YouTube Homepage were Minecraft related; Minecraft grew the YouTube gaming community, with the help of YouTube’s algorithm change (bet they wish they hadn’t changed it now).
Minecraft is a pretty basic survival and building game, but unless you’re playing on Hardcore Mode it’s less about surviving and more about seeing what you can build. In Hardcore Mode, everything you build is functional and meant to keep you safe; in Survival, once you’ve built yourself a little home with lots of storage space and a farm, you’re pretty much set to build whatever you want; in Creative, you can forget about food and a safe place, you can build whatever you want with unlimited resources at your fingertips.
Oh, and did I mention that everything is in block form? Everything in Minecraft is made up of perfectly visible (and very large) pixels – but it’s not bad graphics, it’s a graphical style.
But Minecraft’s popularity was also due in part to the control players had. All manner of mods have been created for Minecraft; and, if you know how, you can even create a story-driven adventure game within Minecraft.
Sure, it isn’t Skyrim or any of the other open-world masterpieces on the market today, but with a randomly generated world seed on every save (you are even presented with the option to put in your own seed); a map with no actual size limit (the map generates as you go, based on the seed of course); with all manner of minerals and crafting materials and even more crafting options, Minecraft is a game that lets you do just about anything – as long as what you want to do includes some sort of structure that requires building.
From indie game success to gaming icon, Minecraft ranks with some of the gaming greats.
Image courtesy of Mojang (no copyright infringement intended).