Why Aren’t You Playing Minecraft?

A lot of people are:

As noted in the Reddit thread where I first heard of this, the nigh-million concurrent players is only counting “PC (win/osx/linux) only, versions 1.3 and higher, modded or vanilla it doesn’t matter.” So not only is that number not even close to peak time, it does not count anyone playing on consoles or mobile devices. Or, you know, anyone playing offline.

For the record, as of June 2014 the sales broke down like this:

  • PC/Mac: 15 Million
  • 360: 12 Million
  • PS3: 3 Million
  • iOS/Android (Pocket Edition): 16.5 Million

It’s probably not a stretch to say Minecraft achieves concurrency numbers of 3 million or more any given day.

So the question I have to ask everyone – especially those constantly pining for “virtual worlds” – is why aren’t you playing Minecraft? Is this not everything you want in game? Crafting? Check. Small communities where name recognition matters? Check. No LFR/LFD? Check. Customization options? Check. Freedom to progress at your own pace? Check. A virtual world where things that matter happen around you? Check and check. And hey, it’s also a Buy-2-Play box model without a cash shop or other F2P shenanigans (as far as I know). If this isn’t a Jesus game, it’s at least a Moses.

I’m only being somewhat facetious here.

Minecraft isn’t for everyone (although it is for a lot of people), of course, but I always find it somewhat interesting in the reasons people give for why it isn’t good enough. Maybe there aren’t enough people per server? Maybe it’s the graphics? Or perhaps you are a little more attached to the traditional WoW content structure than you would have everyone else believe. After all, with the notable exception of Star Wars Galaxies and perhaps City of Heroes, many of the Jesus games are still around. Here is Dark Age of Camelot. Here is Ultima Online. Or if you prefer, Ultima Online Forever. EVE continues to be a thing. Hell, even EverQuest is still churning away. Is… there a reason you are not playing them instead of complaining about the “sorry state” of current MMOs?

I mean, I get it. A remade FF7 would be the ultimate exercise in nostalgerbation for me. There is no particular shame in saying you want an MMO to look like Wildstar but play like something that came out a decade (or more) ago. But I think it safe to say that it is a bit unrealistic. The original EverQuest and Dark Age of Camelot had budgets around $3 million back in 1999 and 2001. By the time the original Guild Wars came out in 2005, that went up to $20-30 million. RIFT was $60-70 million. SWTOR was around $200 million. I don’t think you often get green-lit for budgets of that size for game-types that clearly weren’t profitable enough to save the original title (in the case of SWG/CoH).

Still, there may yet be hope for… well, if not for you, perhaps your kids. Minecraft is the third-best selling videogame of all time, behind Wii Sports and Tetris. Microsoft bought it for $2 billion. This type of game will very clearly continue to be serious business. Then again, I’m not entirely sure that (F2P?) copies of EQN: Landmark are flying off the digital shelf, nor that ArchAge is doing particularly well, nor that virtual world supporters are supporting (supposed) virtual worlds like The Repopulation.

Camelot Unchained got funded, although the release date appears to be mid-summer 2016. Star Citizen will also (maybe) come out in 2016, with it’s $68 million in crowdfunding. So there’s a horizon out there at least, even if the actual long-term profitability of virtual worlds remains to be seen.

In the meantime… you could always play Minecraft.

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Posted on January 12, 2015, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. dachengsgravatar

    I _am_ playing a lot of Minecraft at the moment, and Don’t Starve. I love these games! I love them for their crafting, and I love the dangerous elements of Don’t Starve. They are the antithesis of many traditional MMOs where your immortality makes “death” a thirty-second setback. Last night, after a mere 50 game days, my character (Wilson) in Don’t Starve died. At 8 real minutes per game day, it should take me over six hours to get back there, if I don’t die in the meantime. This is a world where I actively avoid combat.

    In both of them, though, I am playing alone.

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  2. Why am I not playing Minecraft? Graphics is the #1 reason. I lived through that 8-bit period and I hoped never to see anything like it again. I have anti-nostalgic feelings about it.

    Gameplay is the second. The older I get the more clearly I understand that I want to be entertained, not to make my own entertainment. I have a house and garden that need a million things doing to them. If I’m going to spend hours and hours on building/crafting projects it would be pretty ridiculous to do them in a video game when I could do them in real life. Preferably I’ll do them in neither.

    And as for the “Jesus games” I’m still playing mine. All I ever wanted was another Everquest with updated graphics but if I can’t have that the one with the old graphics will do nicely still.

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  3. I am cheerfully playing a ton of modded Minecraft, juggling between an established Agrarian Skies which is mainly about controlled, incremental progress through industry and learning various mods, and newer Wanderlust Reloaded / Impact Flux worlds, which actually have a pregenerated world to explore.

    Except I am -not- playing Minecraft when I’ve decided to prioritize my main MMO or some game on my Steam list ahead of it that night, because variety of experience.

    The good news is that I play singleplayer, so my Minecraft worlds will happily wait for me to have time again for them.

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  4. A lot of themepark MMO players are not your typical MC demography; they’re not into creating their own content or defining their own achievements. So from that POV the question why they’re whining instead of playing a sandbox crafting game is redundant.
    Then, there’s those who simply cannot abide the graphics of MC and those who think they love sandboxes when they really do not. That leaves us with a much smaller bunch of MMO players interested in MC which doesn’t mean they wouldn’t also remain interested in a typical AAA-MMO; MC cannot replace everything that WoW does.

    That said, one of the troubles of MC in my humble opinion, is that it was never marketed to its full potential (or marketed much at all), other than that everyone knows it’s a sandbox building game. The fact that there are tons of ‘MMO servers’ nowadays with dungeon content, quests, NPCs, world story and whatnot – this is not common knowledge outside the primary demography that is already playing MC and modding the heck out of it.

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    • I have no problem with themepark players complaining about themeparks. I just roll my eyes a bit at the “virtual worlds” criticisms from certain corners, especially from those no longer playing the “better” games (which are totally still around). Minecraft is the most successful sandbox of all time, probably including actual sandboxes. So when sandboxers complain, I wonder what they’re looking for exactly.

      We all already know, I just want them to come out and say “better graphics.”

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      • From my brief experience with minecraft – it has no real persistence. And has no real gameplay elements aside of building virtual legos. It is fun to build your virtual house , r cave, tower or maybe even a castle. Once. But I have no desire repeating the experience

        From virtual world I want variety of interactions. Not limited to crafting cubes. I am mildly interested in EQ next( or whatever) – if they get other parts right(on top of what minecraft does already)

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  5. I like the questing aspect of MMOs with light dungeoning thrown in. Minecraft is virtual Lego. The possibilities are limitless, but only if you want to build stuff. Exploring is minimal, there are no goals or objectives besides those you define yourself.

    IMO it’s like writing a book vs reading a book. Both valid pursuits, but one is entertainment and the other is work.

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  6. Because i’m busy being a n00b.

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  7. I love MMOs and I love Minecraft. I’ve learned that these two loves do not usually go hand in hand. I have lots of MMO friends and I have a Minecraft Realms multiplayer server available to friends, and it is not easy to find people who are interested in playing on it. I only like vanilla multiplayer survival servers in Minecraft. I’ve never been interested in the solo play.

    I love creating things for people to find. I love leaving boxes of treasure, building mazes, or creating a cavern underground full of chickens, just in the hope that someone finds it someday. I like going discovering other people’s creations. I don’t really get that out of solo play. My only complaint about Minecraft is the lack of population. I’ve tried seeking out an already populated server but they don’t always last very long.

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