To mark the end of the 2010s, we’re celebrating 30 games that defined the last 10 years. You can find all the articles as they’re published in the Games of the Decade archive, and read about our thinking about it in an editor’s blog.
Minecraft is the definition of a decade-defining game. While it initially came out in 2009, its full release wasn’t until 2011, and in the years that followed it became the most successful indie game of all time. I sometimes forget that Minecraft started out life as an indie game, and while I don’t think it could be considered one anymore, it essentially started an indie boom that we still see the benefits of today.
Not only did Minecraft prove how incredible indies could be, it showed how games didn’t need to rely on the hottest new graphics to be good – the true irony in that is Minecraft has become one of the poster games for ray tracing. It certainly doesn’t need the best graphics, but it looks damn good when you use them.
The game’s long lifespan has also proved games don’t need sequels to show their success. Minecraft is being constantly refined and updated, though never changing the way you need to play. Sure, there are spin-offs and Minecraft titles with all new genres, but these are very much inspired by how accessible the base game is – one of the key aspects the developers want to hold onto in the future.
Mojang doesn’t keeps fans hanging on every update either, it’s not like the many live service games we’ve become accustomed to – where each update needs to be bigger and better to keep the players’ interest. Instead, Minecraft keeps chugging along with a quality of life change here, a new mob there, some extra block types perhaps – it’s all stuff that players are happy to come across when they find it. We get bigger updates too, of course, and they’re always these wholesome exciting things that you create a new world for and go off exploring to find. I remember the first time I came across a shipwreck, I had no idea they even existed in Minecraft! I proceeded to spend hours looking for more, creating lag for everyone else I was playing with because I had gone miles away from our camp in a little boat. Eventually, I stumbled across a sea temple (the original goal of my exploration) and was killed by guardians, thus ending my treasure hunting field trip. Even in a game like Sea of Thieves (which I love with all my heart) I’ve never quite felt that same sense of adventure.
Minecraft has grown well beyond the game that came out in 2009. On the more corporate side, we see how the game has become a franchise – spin-off titles, books, a movie, and more show the potential this world has. But when I write “grown beyond” what I’m really talking about is its community. Minecraft would be nothing without the huge player base it’s attracted – it’s made the careers of so many YouTubers and streamers, it’s brought parents and their children closer together, and it’s even used as a teaching tool in schools to help kids learn in a way they understand.
This game has one of the most creative, passionate, and genuinely good communities I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with. One look at the Minecraft subreddit will show you how incredible these fans are, from phenomenal builds to hilarious mods. I’m a firm believer that the best games are made by the communities they create, and there couldn’t be a better example. Almost every post on any of the forums dedicated to the game are met with praise and positivity – from a kid building their very first castle, to a seasoned player building a full replica of Buckingham Palace, the support is truly lovely to see, and it’s made the Minecraft subreddit one of my favourite places to lurk when I’m feeling a bit down.
Minecraft doesn’t have the largest player base in the world, nor has it made the most money. What it does have is unparalleled accessibility that’s kept it popular for years, and will no doubt keep it popular for years to come.