Minecraft is a sandbox video game developed by Mojang Studios. Created by Markus "Notch" Persson in the Java programming language and released as a public alpha for personal computers in 2009, the game was officially released in November 2011, with Jens Bergensten taking over development around then. Minecraft has since been ported to various platforms and become the best-selling video game of all time, with 200 million copies sold across all platforms and 126 million monthly active users as of 2020.
In Minecraft, players explore a blocky, procedurally-generated 3D world with infinite terrain, and may discover and extract raw materials, craft tools and items, and build structures or earthworks. Depending on game mode, players can fight computer-controlled "mobs", as well as cooperate with or compete against other players in the same world. Game modes include a survival mode, in which players must acquire resources to build the world and maintain health, and a creative mode, where players have unlimited resources. Players can modify the game to create new gameplay mechanics, items, and assets.
Minecraft has been critically acclaimed, winning several awards and being cited as one of the greatest and most influential video games of all time, being inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in June 2020. Social media, parodies, adaptations, merchandise, and the annual MineCon conventions played large roles in popularizing the game. It has also been used in educational environments, especially in the realm of computing systems, as virtual computers and hardware devices have been built in it. In 2014, Mojang and the Minecraft intellectual property were purchased by Microsoft for US$2.5 billion. A number of spin-off games have also been produced, such as Minecraft: Story Mode, Minecraft Dungeons, and Minecraft Earth.
Minecraft is a 3D sandbox game that has no specific goals to accomplish, allowing players a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game. However, there is an achievement system, known as "advancements" in the Java Edition of the game. Gameplay is in the first-person perspective by default, but players have the option for third-person perspective. The game world is composed of rough 3D objects—mainly cubes and fluids, and commonly called "blocks"—representing various materials, such as dirt, stone, ores, tree trunks, water, and lava. The core gameplay revolves around picking up and placing these objects. These blocks are arranged in a 3D grid, while players can move freely around the world. Players can "mine" blocks and then place them elsewhere, enabling them to build things. Many commentators have described the game's physics system as unrealistic; liquids continuously flow for a limited horizontal distance from source blocks, which can be removed by placing a solid block in its place or by scooping it into a bucket. The game also contains a material known as redstone, which can be used to make primitive mechanical devices, electrical circuits, and logic gates, allowing for the construction of many complex systems.
The game world is virtually infinite and procedurally generated as players explore it, using a map seed that is obtained from the system clock at the time of world creation (or manually specified by the player). There are limits on vertical movement, but Minecraft allows an infinitely large game world to be generated on the horizontal plane. Due to technical problems when extremely distant locations are reached, however, there is a barrier preventing players from traversing to locations beyond 30,000,000 blocks from the center.[g] The game achieves this by splitting the world data into smaller sections called "chunks" that are only created or loaded when players are nearby. The world is divided into biomes ranging from deserts to jungles to snowfields; the terrain includes plains, mountains, forests, caves, and various lava/water bodies. The in-game time system follows a day and night cycle, and one full cycle lasts 20 real-time minutes.
When starting a new world, players must choose one of five game modes, as well as one of four difficulties, ranging from peaceful to hard. Increasing the difficulty of the game causes the player to take more damage from mobs, as well as having other difficulty-specific effects. For example, the peaceful difficulty prevents hostile mobs from spawning, and the hard difficulty allows players to starve to death if their hunger bar is depleted. Once selected, the difficulty can be changed, but the game mode is locked and can only be changed with cheats.
New players have a randomly selected default character skin of either Steve or Alex, but the option to create custom skins was made available in 2010. Players encounter various non-player characters known as mobs, such as animals, villagers, and hostile creatures. Passive mobs, such as cows, pigs, and chickens, can be hunted for food and crafting materials. They spawn in the daytime, while hostile mobs—including large spiders, skeletons, and zombies—spawn during nighttime or in dark places such as caves. Some hostile mobs, such as zombies, skeletons and drowned (underwater versions of zombies), burn under the sun if they have no headgear. Other creatures unique to Minecraft include the creeper (an exploding creature that sneaks up on the player) and the enderman (a creature with the ability to teleport as well as pick up and place blocks). There are also variants of mobs that spawn in different conditions; for example, zombies have husk variants that spawn in deserts.
Minecraft has two alternative dimensions besides the overworld (the main world): the Nether and the End. The Nether is a hell-like dimension accessed via player-built portals; it contains many unique resources and can be used to travel great distances in the overworld, due to every block traveled in the Nether being equivalent to 8 blocks traveled in the overworld. The player can build an optional boss mob called the Wither out of materials found in the Nether. The End is a barren land consisting of many islands. A boss dragon called the Ender Dragon dwells on the main island. Killing the dragon opens access to an exit portal, which upon entering cues the game's ending credits and a poem written by Irish novelist Julian Gough. Players are then teleported back to their spawn point and may continue the game indefinitely.
In survival mode, players have to gather natural resources such as wood and stone found in the environment in order to craft certain blocks and items. Depending on the difficulty, monsters spawn in darker areas outside a certain radius of the character, requiring players to build a shelter at night. The mode also has a health bar which is depleted by attacks from mobs, falls, drowning, falling into lava, suffocation, starvation, and other events. Players also have a hunger bar, which must be periodically refilled by eating food in-game, except in peaceful difficulty. If the hunger bar is depleted, automatic healing will stop and eventually health will deplete. Health replenishes when players have a nearly full hunger bar or continuously on peaceful difficulty.
Players can craft a wide variety of items in Minecraft. Craftable items include armor, which mitigates damage from attacks; weapons (such as swords), which allows monsters and animals to be killed more easily; and tools, which break certain types of blocks more quickly. Some items have multiple tiers depending on the material used to craft them, with higher-tier items being more effective and durable. Players can construct furnaces, which can cook food, process ores, and convert materials into other materials. Players may also exchange goods with a villager (NPC) through a trading system, which involves trading emeralds for different goods and vice versa.
The game has an inventory system, allowing players to carry a limited number of items. Upon dying, items in the players' inventories are dropped, and players re-spawn at their spawn point, which by default is where players first spawn in the game, and can be reset by sleeping in a bed or using a respawn anchor. Dropped items can be recovered if players can reach them before they disappear or despawn after 5 minutes. Players may acquire experience points by killing mobs and other players, mining, smelting ores, breeding animals, and cooking food. Experience can then be spent on enchanting tools, armor and weapons. Enchanted items are generally more powerful, last longer, or have other special effects.
Hardcore mode is a survival mode variant that is locked to the hardest setting and has permadeath. If a player dies in a hardcore world, they are no longer allowed to interact with it, so they can either be put into spectator mode and explore the world or delete it entirely. This game mode can only be accessed within the Java Edition.
In creative mode, players have access to all resources and items in the game through the inventory menu, and can place or remove them instantly. Players can toggle the ability to fly freely around the game world at will, and their characters do not take any damage and are not affected by hunger. The game mode helps players focus on building and creating projects of any size without disturbance.
Adventure mode was designed specifically so that players could experience user-crafted custom maps and adventures. Gameplay is similar to survival mode but with various restrictions, which can be applied to the game world by the creator of the map. This forces players to obtain the required items and experience adventures in the way that the map maker intended. Another addition designed for custom maps is the command block; this block allows map makers to expand interactions with players through scripted server commands.
Spectator mode allows players to fly through blocks and watch gameplay without directly interacting. Players do not have an inventory, but can teleport to other players and view from the perspective of another player or creature. This game mode can only be accessed within the Java or PC edition.
Multiplayer in Minecraft is available through direct game-to-game multiplayer, LAN play, local split screen, and servers (player-hosted and business-hosted). It enables multiple players to interact and communicate with each other on a single world. Players can run their own servers, use a hosting provider, or connect directly to another player's game via Xbox Live. Single-player worlds have local area network support, allowing players to join a world on locally interconnected computers without a server setup.Minecraft multiplayer servers are guided by server operators, who have access to server commands such as setting the time of day and teleporting players. Operators can also set up restrictions concerning which usernames or IP addresses are allowed or disallowed to enter the server. Multiplayer servers have a wide range of activities, with some servers having their own unique rules and customs. One of the largest and most popular servers is Hypixel, which has been visited by over 14 million unique players.Player versus player combat (PvP) can be enabled to allow fighting between players. Many servers have custom plugins that allow actions that are not normally possible.
In 2013, Mojang announced Minecraft Realms, a server hosting service intended to enable players to run server multiplayer games easily and safely without having to set up their own. Unlike a standard server, only invited players can join Realms servers, and these servers do not use IP addresses. Minecraft: Java Edition Realms server owners can invite up to twenty people to play on their server, with up to ten players online at a time. Minecraft Realms server owners can invite up to 3000 people to play on their server, with up to ten players online at one time. The Minecraft: Java Edition Realms servers do not support user-made plugins, but players can play custom Minecraft maps. Minecraft Realms servers support user-made add-ons, resource packs, behavior packs, and custom Minecraft maps. At Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016, support for cross-platform play between Windows 10, iOS, and Android platforms was added through Realms starting in June 2016, with Xbox One and Nintendo Switch support to come later in 2017, and support for virtual reality devices. On 31 July 2017, Mojang released the beta version of the update allowing cross-platform play. Nintendo Switch support for Realms was released in July 2018.
A wide variety of user-generated downloadable content for Minecraft, such as modifications, texture packs and custom maps, exists and is available on the Internet. Modifications of the Minecraft code, called mods, add a variety of gameplay changes, ranging from new blocks, new items, new mobs to entire arrays of mechanisms to craft. The modding community is responsible for a substantial supply of mods from ones that enhance gameplay, such as minimaps, waypoints, and durability counters, to ones that add to the game elements from other video games and media.
While mod framework is fan-made, vanilla Minecraft contains intended frameworks for modification, such as community-created resource packs, which alter certain game elements including textures and sounds. Players can also create their own "maps" (custom world save files) which often contain specific rules, challenges, puzzles and quests, and share them for others to play. Mojang added an adventure mode in August 2012 and "command blocks" in October 2012, which were created specially for custom maps in Java Edition. Data packs, introduced in version 1.13 of the Java Edition, allow further customization, including the ability to add new advancements, dimensions, functions, loot tables, predicates, recipes, structures, tags, world generation settings, and biomes.
The Xbox 360 Edition supports downloadable content, which is available to purchase via the Xbox Games Store; these content packs usually contain additional character skins. It later received support for texture packs in its twelfth title update while introducing "mash-up packs", which combines texture packs with skin packs and changes to the game's sounds, music and user interface. The first mash-up pack (and by extension, the first texture pack) for the Xbox 360 Edition was released on 4 September 2013, and was themed after the Mass Effect franchise. Unlike Java Edition, however, the Xbox 360 Edition does not support player-made mods or custom maps. A cross-promotional resource pack based on the Super Mario franchise by Nintendo was released for the Wii U Edition worldwide on 17 May 2016. A mash-up pack based on Fallout was announced for release on the Wii U Edition.
In June 2017, Mojang released an update known as the "Discovery Update" to the Bedrock version of the game. The update includes a new map, a new game mode, the "Marketplace", a catalogue of user-generated content that gives Minecraft creators "another way to make a living from the game", and more.
Before he came up with Minecraft, Markus "Notch" Persson was a game developer with King through March 2009, at the time serving mostly browser games, during which he learnt a number of different programming languages. He would prototype his own games during his off-hours at home, often based on inspiration he found from other games, and participated frequently on the TIGSource forums for independent developers. One of these personal projects was called "RubyDung", a base-building game inspired by Dwarf Fortress, but as an isometric three dimensional game like Roller Coaster Tycoon. He had already made a 3D texture mapper for another zombie game prototype he had started to try to emulate the style of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Among the features in "RubyDung" he explored was a first-person view similar to Dungeon Keeper but at the time, felt the graphics were too pixelated and omitted this mode. Around March 2009, Persson left King and joined jAlbum, but otherwise kept working on his prototypes.
Infiniminer, a block-based open-ended mining game first released in April 2009, sparked Persson's inspiration for how to take "RubyDung" forward. Infiniminer heavily influenced the visual style of gameplay, including bringing back the first-person mode, the "blocky" visual style and the block-building fundamentals. However, unlike Infiniminer, Persson wanted Minecraft to have RPG elements.
The original edition of Minecraft, now known as the Java Edition, was first developed in May 2009. The base program of Minecraft was completed by Persson over a weekend in that month, and was first released to the public on 17 May 2009 as a developmental release on TIGSource forums. Persson continued to update the game based on feedback from the forums. This version later become known as the Classic version. Further developmental phases dubbed as Survival Test, Indev and Infdev were released between September 2009 and June 2010. The first major update, dubbed Alpha, was released on 30 June 2010. Although Persson maintained a day job with Jalbum.net at first, he later quit in order to work on Minecraft full-time as sales of the alpha version of the game expanded. Persson continued to update the game with releases distributed to users automatically. These updates included new items, new blocks, new mobs, survival mode, and changes to the game's behavior (e.g. how water flows).
To back the development of Minecraft, Persson set up a video game company, Mojang, with the money earned from the game. Mojang co-founders included Jakob Porser, one of Persson's coworkers from King, and Carl Manneh, jAlbum's CEO.
On 11 December 2010, Persson announced that Minecraft was entering its beta testing phase on 20 December 2010. He further stated that bug fixes and all updates leading up to and including the release would still be free. Over the course of the development, Mojang hired several new employees to work on the project.
Mojang moved the game out of beta and released the full version on 18 November 2011. On 1 December 2011, Jens "Jeb" Bergensten took full creative control over Minecraft, replacing Persson as lead designer. On 28 February 2012, Mojang announced that they had hired the developers of the popular server platform "Bukkit" to improve Minecraft's support of server modifications. This acquisition also included Mojang apparently taking full ownership of the CraftBukkit modification, although the validity of this claim was questioned due to its status as an open-source project with many contributors, licensed under the GNU General Public License and Lesser General Public License. On 15 September 2014, Microsoft announced a $2.5 billion deal to buy Mojang, along with the ownership of the Minecraft intellectual property. The deal was suggested by Persson when he posted a tweet asking a corporation to buy his share of the game after receiving criticism for "trying to do the right thing". It was arbitrated on 6 November 2014, and led to Persson becoming one of Forbes' "World's Billionaires". The original version of the game was renamed to Minecraft: Java Edition on 18 September 2017 to separate it from Bedrock Edition, which was renamed to just Minecraft by the Better Together Update.
Since the first full release of Minecraft, dubbed the "Adventure Update", the game has been continuously updated with many major updates, available for free to users who have already purchased the game. The latest update is 1.16, the "Nether Update", which overhauls the Nether dimension, adding new biomes and mobs, and was released on 23 June 2020. The Bedrock Edition has also been regularly updated, with these updates now matching the themes of Java Edition updates. Other versions of the game such as the various console editions and Pocket Edition were either merged into Bedrock and/or discontinued and as such have not received further updates.
Minecraft's music and sound effects were produced by German musician Daniel Rosenfeld, better known as C418. The background music in Minecraft is instrumental ambient music. On 4 March 2011, Rosenfeld released a soundtrack titled Minecraft – Volume Alpha; it includes most of the tracks featured in Minecraft, as well as other music not featured in the game. Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku chose the music in Minecraft as one of the best video game soundtracks of 2011. On 9 November 2013, Rosenfeld released the second official soundtrack, titled Minecraft – Volume Beta, which includes the music that was added in later versions of the game. A physical release of Volume Alpha, consisting of CDs, black vinyl, and limited-edition transparent green vinyl LPs, was issued by indie electronic label Ghostly International on 21 August 2015. In addition to Rosenfeld's work, other composers have contributed tracks to the game since release, including Samuel Åberg, Gareth Coker, and Lena Raine. Raine's work was included in a separate album titled Minecraft: Nether Update (Original Game Soundtrack).
Minecraft 4K is a simplified version of Minecraft similar to the Classic version that was developed for the 2011 Java 4K game programming contest "in way less than 4 kilobytes". The map itself is finite—composed of 64×64×64 blocks—and the same world is generated every time. Players are restricted to placing or destroying blocks, which consist of grass, dirt, stone, wood, leaves, and brick.
On 16 August 2011, Minecraft: Pocket Edition was released for the Xperia Play on the Android Market as an early alpha version. It was then released for several other compatible devices on 8 October 2011. An iOS version of Minecraft was released on 17 November 2011. A port was made available for Windows Phones shortly after Microsoft acquired Mojang. The port concentrates on the creative building and the primitive survival aspect of the game, and does not contain all the features of the PC release. On his Twitter account, Jens Bergensten said that the Pocket Edition of Minecraft is written in C++ and not Java, due to iOS not being able to support Java. Gradual updates are periodically released to bring the port closer to the PC version.
On 10 December 2014, in observance of Mojang's acquisition by Microsoft, a port of Pocket Edition was released for Windows Phone 8.1. On 18 January 2017, Microsoft announced that it would no longer maintain the Windows Phone versions of Pocket Edition. On 19 December 2016, the full version of Minecraft: Pocket Edition was released on iOS, Android and Windows Phone. On 31 July 2017, the Pocket Edition portion of the name was dropped and the apps were renamed simply as Minecraft. The Pocket Edition's engine, known as "Bedrock", was ported to non-mobile platforms Windows 10, Xbox One, Gear VR, Apple TV, Fire TV, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. Versions of the game on the Bedrock engine are collectively referred to as the Bedrock Edition.
Minecraft for Windows 10 is a version of Bedrock Edition is currently exclusive to Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system. The beta for it launched on the Windows Store on 29 July 2015. This version has the ability to play with Xbox Live friends, and to play local multiplayer with owners of Minecraft on other Bedrock platforms. Other features include the ability to use multiple control schemes, such as a gamepad, keyboard, or touchscreen (for Microsoft Surface and other touchscreen-enabled devices), virtual reality support, and to record and take screenshots in-game via the built-in GameDVR.
On 16 April 2020, a beta version of Minecraft implementing physically based rendering, ray tracing and DLSS was released by Nvidia on RTX-enabled GPUs. The final version is expected to be released later in 2020.
Minecraft: Education Edition is an educational version of base game, designed specifically for used in educational establishments such as schools, and built off of the Bedrock codebase. It is available on Windows 10, MacOS, iPadOS and Chrome OS. It includes a Chemistry Resource Pack, free lesson plans on the Minecraft: Education Edition website, and two free companion applications: Code Connection and Classroom Mode.
An initial beta test was carried out between June 9 and November 1, 2016. The full game was then released on Windows 10 and MacOS on November 1, 2016. On August 20, 2018, Mojang Studios announced that it would bring Education Edition to iPadOS in Autumn 2018. It was released to the App Store on September 6, 2018. On March 27, 2019, it was announced that the Education Edition would be operated by JD.com in China. On June 26, 2020, an Education Edition Public Beta was made available to Google Play Store compatible Chromebooks. The full game was released to the Google Play Store for Chromebooks on August 7, 2020.
An Xbox 360 version of the game, developed by 4J Studios, was released on 9 May 2012. On 22 March 2012, it was announced that Minecraft would be the flagship game in a new Xbox Live promotion called Arcade NEXT. The game differs from the home computer versions in a number of ways, including a newly designed crafting system, the control interface, in-game tutorials, split-screen multiplayer, and the ability to play with friends via Xbox Live. The worlds in the Xbox 360 version are also not "infinite", and are essentially barricaded by invisible walls. The Xbox 360 version was originally similar in content to older PC versions, but was gradually updated to bring it closer to the current PC version prior to its discontinuation. An Xbox One version featuring larger worlds among other enhancements was released on 5 September 2014.
Versions of the game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 were released on 17 December 2013 and 4 September 2014 respectively. The PlayStation 4 version was announced as a launch title, though it was eventually delayed. A version for PlayStation Vita was also released in October 2014. Like the Xbox versions, the PlayStation versions were developed by 4J Studios.
On 17 December 2015, Minecraft: Wii U Edition was released. The Wii U version received a physical release on 17 June 2016 in North America, in Japan on 23 June 2016, and in Europe on 30 June 2016. A Nintendo Switch version of the game was released on the Nintendo eShop on 11 May 2017, along with a physical retail version set for a later date. During a Nintendo Direct presentation on 13 September 2017, Nintendo announced that Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition would be available for download immediately after the livestream, and a physical copy available on a later date. The game is only compatible with the "New" versions of the 3DS and 2DS systems, and does not work with the original 3DS, 3DS XL, or 2DS models.
On 18 December 2018, the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, and the Wii U versions of Minecraft received their final update.
The PlayStation 4 version of Minecraft was updated in December 2019 to support cross-platform play with all other Bedrock editions, though users are required to have a free Xbox Live account to play.
A version of Minecraft for the Raspberry Pi was officially revealed at MineCon 2012. Mojang stated that the Pi Edition is similar to the Pocket Edition, except that it is downgraded to an older version, and with the added ability of using text commands to edit the game world. Players can open the game code and use the Python programming language to manipulate things in the game world. The game was leaked on 20 December 2012, but was quickly pulled off. It was officially released on 11 February 2013.
Minecraft in China:
On 20 May 2016, Minecraft China was announced as a localized edition for China, where it was released under a licensing agreement between NetEase and Mojang. The PC edition was released for public testing on 8 August 2017. The iOS version was released on 15 September 2017, and the Android version was released on 12 October 2017. The PC edition is based on the original Java Edition, while the iOS and Android mobile version is based on the Bedrock Edition. The edition is free-to-play, and had over 300 million players by November 2019.
Early on, Persson planned to support the Oculus Rift with a port of Minecraft. However, after Facebook acquired Oculus in 2013, he abruptly canceled plans noting "Facebook creeps me out." A community-made modification known as Minecraft VR was developed in 2016 to provide virtual reality support to Minecraft: Java Edition oriented towards Oculus Rift hardware. A fork of the Minecraft VR modification known as Vivecraft ported the mod to OpenVR, and is oriented towards supporting HTC Vive hardware. On 15 August 2016, Microsoft launched official Oculus Rift support for Minecraft on Windows 10. Upon its release, the Minecraft VR mod was discontinued by its developer due to trademark complaints issued by Microsoft, and Vivecraft was endorsed by the community makers of the Minecraft VR modification due to its Rift support and being superior to the original Minecraft VR mod. Also available is a Gear VR version, titled Minecraft: Gear VR Edition. Windows Mixed Reality support was added in 2017. The only officially supported VR versions of Minecraft are Minecraft: Gear VR Edition and Minecraft for Windows 10 for Oculus Rift and Windows Mixed Reality headsets.
Minecraft: Story Mode, an episodic spin-off game developed by Telltale Games in collaboration with Mojang, was announced in December 2014. Consisting of five episodes plus three additional downloadable episodes, the standalone game is a narrative and player choice-driven, and it was released on Windows, OS X, iOS, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One via download on 13 October 2015. A physical disc that grants access to all episodes was released for the aforementioned four consoles on 27 October. Wii U  and Nintendo Switch version were also later released  The first trailer for the game was shown at MineCon on 4 July 2015, revealing some of the game's features. In Minecraft: Story Mode, players control Jesse (voiced by Patton Oswalt and Catherine Taber), who sets out on a journey with his or her friends to find The Order of the Stone—four adventurers who slayed an Ender Dragon—in order to save their world. Brian Posehn, Ashley Johnson, Scott Porter, Martha Plimpton, Dave Fennoy, Corey Feldman, Billy West and Paul Reubens portray the rest of the cast.
Minecraft Classic is a browser remake of the 2009 Classic version of Minecraft. The game was released on 7 May 2019, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Minecraft. Minecraft Classic recreates the game as it was in 2009, including the bugs present in the 2009 version of Minecraft. The game has a total of 32 block types that players can place. The game also supports multiplayer with up to a total of 10 players.
Minecraft Earth is an upcoming augmented reality game that was announced by Microsoft in May 2019. The game will allow players to interact with the world and build Minecraft-style structures and objects that will persist and can be modified by other players. The game will implement the resource-gathering and many of other features of the original game in an augmented-reality setting. The game had a beta release in July 2019.
Minecraft Dungeons is a dungeon crawler game that was announced at MineCon 2018 and released on 26 May 2020. Set in the Minecraft universe, the game can be played alone or in a party of up to four people. It was released for Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 in 2020.
Minecraft received critical acclaim, praising the creative freedom it grants players in-game, as well as the ease of enabling emergent gameplay. Critics have praised Minecraft's complex crafting system, commenting that it is an important aspect of the game's open-ended gameplay. Most publications were impressed by the game's "blocky" graphics, with IGN describing them as "instantly memorable". Reviewers also liked the game's adventure elements, noting that the game creates a good balance between exploring and building. The game's multiplayer feature has been generally received favorably, with IGN commenting that "adventuring is always better with friends". Jaz McDougall of PC Gamer said Minecraft is "intuitively interesting and contagiously fun, with an unparalleled scope for creativity and memorable experiences". It has been regarded as having introduced millions of children to the digital world, insofar as its basic game mechanics are logically analogous to computer commands. 
IGN was disappointed about the troublesome steps needed to set up multiplayer servers, calling it a "hassle". Critics also said that visual glitches occur periodically. Despite its release out of beta in 2011, GameSpot said the game had an "unfinished feel", adding that some game elements seem "incomplete or thrown together in haste".
A review of the alpha version, by Scott Munro of the Daily Record, called it "already something special" and urged readers to buy it. Jim Rossignol of Rock, Paper, Shotgun also recommended the alpha of the game, calling it "a kind of generative 8-bit Lego Stalker". On 17 September 2010, gaming webcomic Penny Arcade began a series of comics and news posts about the addictiveness of the game. The Xbox 360 version was generally received positively by critics, but did not receive as much praise as the PC version. Although reviewers were disappointed by the lack of features such as mod support and content from the PC version, they acclaimed the port's addition of a tutorial and in-game tips and crafting recipes, saying that they make the game more user-friendly.
Minecraft: Pocket Edition initially received mixed reviews from critics. Although reviewers appreciated the game's intuitive controls, they were disappointed by the lack of content. The inability to collect resources and craft items, as well as the limited types of blocks and lack of hostile mobs, were especially criticized. After updates added more content, Pocket Edition started receiving more positive reviews. Reviewers complimented the controls and the graphics, but still noted a lack of content.
Minecraft surpassed over a million purchases less than a month after entering its beta phase in early 2011. At the same time, the game had no publisher backing and has never been commercially advertised except through word of mouth, and various unpaid references in popular media such as the Penny Arcade webcomic. By April 2011, Persson estimated that Minecraft had made €23 million (US$33 million) in revenue, with 800,000 sales of the alpha version of the game, and over 1 million sales of the beta version. In November 2011, prior to the game's full release, Minecraft beta surpassed 16 million registered users and 4 million purchases. By March 2012, Minecraft had become the 6th best-selling PC game of all time. As of 10 October 2014, the game has sold 17 million copies on PC, becoming the best-selling PC game of all time. As of 10 October 2014, the game has sold approximately 60 million copies across all platforms, making it one of the best-selling video games of all time. On 25 February 2014, the game reached 100 million registered users. By May 2019, 180 million copies had been sold across all platforms, making it the single best-selling video game of all time. The free-to-play Minecraft China version had over 300 million players by November 2019.
The Xbox 360 version of Minecraft became profitable within the first day of the game's release in 2012, when the game broke the Xbox Live sales records with 400,000 players online. Within a week of being on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Minecraft sold upwards of a million copies. GameSpot announced in December 2012 that Minecraft sold over 4.48 million copies since the game debuted on Xbox Live Arcade in May 2012. In 2012, Minecraft was the most purchased title on Xbox Live Arcade; it was also the fourth most played title on Xbox Live based on average unique users per day. As of 4 April 2014, the Xbox 360 version has sold 12 million copies. In addition, Minecraft: Pocket Edition has reached a figure of 21 million in sales. The PlayStation 3 version sold one million copies in five weeks. The release of the game's PlayStation Vita version boosted Minecraft sales by 79%, outselling both PS3 and PS4 debut releases and becoming the largest Minecraft launch on a PlayStation console. The PS Vita version sold 100,000 digital copies in Japan within the first two months of release, according to an announcement by SCE Japan Asia. By January 2015, 500,000 digital copies of Minecraft were sold in Japan across all PlayStation platforms, with a surge in primary school children purchasing the PS Vita version. Minecraft helped improve Microsoft's total first-party revenue by $63 million for the 2015 second quarter. The game, including all of its versions, had over 112 million monthly active players by September 2019.
On its 11th anniversary in May 2020, the company announced that Minecraft had reached over 200 million copies sold across platforms with over 126 million monthly active players.
In July 2010, PC Gamer listed Minecraft as the fourth-best game to play at work. In December of that year, Good Game selected Minecraft as their choice for Best Downloadable Game of 2010, Gamasutra named it the eighth best game of the year as well as the eighth best indie game of the year, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun named it the "game of the year". Indie DB awarded the game the 2010 Indie of the Year award as chosen by voters, in addition to two out of five Editor's Choice awards for Most Innovative and Best Singleplayer Indie. It was also awarded Game of the Year by PC Gamer UK. The game was nominated for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, Technical Excellence, and Excellence in Design awards at the March 2011 Independent Games Festival and won the Grand Prize and the community-voted Audience Award. At Game Developers Choice Awards 2011, Minecraft won awards in the categories for Best Debut Game, Best Downloadable Game and Innovation Award, winning every award for which it was nominated. It also won GameCity's video game arts award. On 5 May 2011, Minecraft was selected as one of the 80 games that would be displayed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum as part of The Art of Video Games exhibit that opened on 16 March 2012. At the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards, Minecraft won the award for Best Independent Game and was nominated in the Best PC Game category. In 2012, at the British Academy Video Games Awards, Minecraft was nominated in the GAME Award of 2011 category and Persson received The Special Award. In 2012, Minecraft XBLA was awarded a Golden Joystick Award in the Best Downloadable Game category, and a TIGA Games Industry Award in the Best Arcade Game category. In 2013 it was nominated as the family game of the year at the British Academy Video Games Awards. Minecraft Console Edition won the award for TIGA Game Of The Year in 2014. In 2015, the game placed 6th on USgamer's The 15 Best Games Since 2000 list. In 2016, Minecraft placed 6th on Time's The 50 Best Video Games of All Time list.
Minecraft was nominated for the 2013 Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite App, but lost to Temple Run. It was nominated for the 2014 Kids' Choice Awards for Favorite Video Game, but lost to Just Dance 2014. The game later won the award for the Most Addicting Game at the 2015 Kids' Choice Awards. In addition, the Java Edition was nominated for "Favorite Video Game" at the 2018 Kids' Choice Awards, while the game itself won the "Still Playing" award at the 2019 Golden Joystick Awards, as well as the "Favorite Video Game" award at the 2020 Kids' Choice Awards.
In September 2019, The Guardian classified Minecraft as the best video game of (the first two decades of) the 21st century, and in November 2019 Polygon called the game the "most important game of the decade" in its 2010s "decade in review". In December 2019, Forbes gave Minecraft a special mention in a list of the best video games of the 2010s, stating that the game is "without a doubt one of the most important games of the last ten years." In June 2020, Minecraft was inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
Social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Reddit played a significant role in popularizing Minecraft. Research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communication showed that one-third of Minecraft players learned about the game via Internet videos. In 2010, Minecraft-related videos began to gain influence on YouTube, often made by commentators. The videos usually contain screen-capture footage of the game and voice-overs. Common coverage in the videos includes creations made by players, walkthroughs of various tasks, and parodies of works in popular culture. By May 2012, over four million Minecraft-related YouTube videos had been uploaded. Some popular commentators have received employment at Machinima, a gaming video company that owns a highly watched entertainment channel on YouTube. The Yogscast is a British company that regularly produces Minecraft videos; their YouTube channel has attained billions of views, and their panel at MineCon 2011 had the highest attendance. Other well known YouTube personnel include Jordan Maron, who has created many Minecraft parodies, including "Minecraft Style", a parody of the internationally successful single "Gangnam Style" by South Korean rapper Psy. In 2019, YouTube again popularized Minecraft.
Herobrine is a major community icon of Minecraft, who first appeared as a single image on 4chan's /v/ board. According to rumors, Herobrine appears in players' worlds and builds strange constructions. However, Mojang has confirmed that Herobrine has never existed in Minecraft, and there are no plans to add Herobrine.
Minecraft has been referenced by other video games, such as Torchlight II, Borderlands 2, Choplifter HD, Super Meat Boy, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Binding of Isaac, The Stanley Parable, FTL: Faster Than Light, and Geometry Dash. It was also referenced by electronic music artist deadmau5 in his performances. A simulation of the game was featured in Lady Gaga's "G.U.Y." music video. The game is also referenced heavily in "Informative Murder Porn", the second episode of the seventeenth season of the animated television series South Park. "Luca$", the seventeenth episode of the 25th season of the animated sitcom The Simpsons and "Minecraft is for Everyone" by Starbomb was inspired by Minecraft.
The possible applications of Minecraft have been discussed extensively, especially in the fields of computer-aided design and education. In a panel at MineCon 2011, a Swedish developer discussed the possibility of using the game to redesign public buildings and parks, stating that rendering using Minecraft was much more user-friendly for the community, making it easier to envision the functionality of new buildings and parks. In 2012, a member of the Human Dynamics group at the MIT Media Lab, Cody Sumter, said: "Notch hasn't just built a game. He's tricked 40 million people into learning to use a CAD program." Various software has been developed to allow virtual designs to be printed using professional 3D printers or personal printers such as MakerBot and RepRap.
In September 2012, Mojang began the Block By Block project in cooperation with UN Habitat to create real-world environments in Minecraft. The project allows young people who live in those environments to participate in designing the changes they would like to see. Using Minecraft, the community has helped reconstruct the areas of concern, and citizens are invited to enter the Minecraft servers and modify their own neighborhood. Carl Manneh, Mojang's managing director, called the game "the perfect tool to facilitate this process", adding "The three-year partnership will support UN-Habitat's Sustainable Urban Development Network to upgrade 300 public spaces by 2016." Mojang signed Minecraft building community, FyreUK, to help render the environments into Minecraft. The first pilot project began in Kibera, one of Nairobi's informal settlements, and is in the planning phase. The Block By Block project is based on an earlier initiative started in October 2011, Mina Kvarter (My Block), which gave young people in Swedish communities a tool to visualize how they wanted to change their part of town. According to Manneh, the project was a helpful way to visualize urban planning ideas without necessarily having a training in architecture. The ideas presented by the citizens were a template for political decisions.
In 2013, Stuart Duncan, known online as AutismFather, started a server for children with autism and their families, called Autcraft. The server was created because the public servers had many bullies and trolls that made the autistic kids angry and feel hurt. It was constantly monitored to help players and prevent bullying. The server had a whitelist that only allowed approved players, of which there are 8,000 players worldwide in 2017. The server had an unique ranking system based on the attributes of the player, such as "Player of the Week" and "Caught Being Awesome". The server was called "one of the best places on the Internet" and was a subject of a research paper.
In April 2014, the Danish Geodata Agency generated all of Denmark in fullscale in Minecraft based on their own geodata. This is possible because Denmark is one of the flattest countries with the highest point at 171 metres (561 ft) (ranking as the country with the 30th smallest elevation span), where the limit in default Minecraft is around 192 metres (630 ft) above in-game sea level.
Taking advantage of the game's accessibility where other websites are censored, the non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders have used an open Minecraft server to create the Uncensored Library, a repository within the game of journalism by authors from countries (including Egypt, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam) who have been censored and arrested, such as Jamal Khashoggi. The neoclassical virtual building was created over about 250 hours by an international team of 24 people.
Minecraft has also been used in educational settings. In 2011, an educational organization named MinecraftEdu was formed with the goal of introducing Minecraft into schools. The group works with Mojang to make the game affordable and accessible to schools. The version of Minecraft through MinecraftEDU includes unique features to allow teachers to monitor the students' progress within the virtual world, such as receiving screenshots from students to show completion of a lesson. In September 2012, MinecraftEdu said that approximately 250,000 students around the world have access to Minecraft through the company. A wide variety of educational activities involving the game have been developed to teach students various subjects, including history, language arts and science. For an example, one teacher built a world consisting of various historical landmarks for students to learn and explore. Another teacher created a large-scale representation of an animal cell within Minecraft that student could explore and learn how the cell functions work. Great Ormond Street Hospital has been recreated in Minecraft, and it proposed that patients can use it to virtually explore the hospital before they actually visit. Minecraft may also prove as an innovation in Computer Aided Design (CAD). Minecraft offers an outlet of collaboration in design and could have an impact on the industry.
With the introduction of redstone blocks to represent electrical circuits, users have been able to build functional virtual computers within Minecraft. Such virtual creations include a working hard drive, an 8-bit virtual computer, and emulators for the Atari 2600 (including one by YouTube personality SethBling) and Game Boy Advance. In at least one instance, a mod has been created to use this feature to teach younger players how to program within a language set by the virtual computer within a Minecraft world.
Microsoft and non-profit Code.org had teamed up to offer Minecraft-based games, puzzles, and tutorials aimed to help teach children how to program; by March 2018, Microsoft and Code.org reported that more than 85 million children have used their tutorials. In September 2014, the British Museum in London announced plans to recreate its building along with all exhibits in Minecraft in conjunction with members of the public.
After the release of Minecraft, some video games were released with various similarities with Minecraft, and some were called "clones" of the game. Examples include Ace of Spades, CastleMiner, CraftWorld, FortressCraft, Terraria, and Total Miner. David Frampton, designer of The Blockheads, reported that one failure of his 2D game was the "low resolution pixel art" that too closely resembled the art in Minecraft which resulted in "some resistance" from fans. A homebrew adaptation of the alpha version of Minecraft for the Nintendo DS, titled DScraft, has been released; it has been noted for its similarity to the original game considering the technical limitations of the system.
In response to Microsoft's acquisition of Mojang and their Minecraft IP, various developers announced further clone titles developed specifically for Nintendo's consoles, as they were the only major platforms to not officially receive Minecraft at the time. These clone titles include UCraft (Nexis Games), Cube Life: Island Survival (Cypronia), Discovery (Noowanda), Battleminer (Wobbly Tooth Games), Cube Creator 3D (Big John Games), and Stone Shire (Finger Gun Games). Despite this the fears were unfounded with official Minecraft releases on Nintendo consoles eventually resuming. Persson made a similar game, Minicraft, for a Ludum Dare competition in 2011.
A documentary about the development of Mojang and Minecraft was released in December 2012. Titled Minecraft: The Story of Mojang, the film was produced by 2 Player Productions. In 2014, an attempt to crowdfund a fan film through Kickstarter was shut down after Persson refused to let the filmmakers use the license.
In 2012, Mojang received offers from Hollywood producers who wanted to produce Minecraft-related TV shows; however, Mojang stated that they would only engage in such projects when "the right idea comes along". By February 2014, Persson revealed that Mojang was in talks with Warner Bros. Pictures regarding a Minecraft film and, by that October, it was "in its early days of development". The film was scheduled for release on 24 May 2019, and was going to be directed by Shawn Levy and written by Jason Fuchs. Levy later dropped out and was replaced by Rob McElhenney. In August 2018, McElhenney left the film and Fuchs was replaced with Aaron and Adam Nee, resulting in its release date getting delayed. According to McElhenney, he had been drawn to the film based on the open world nature of the game, an idea Warner Bros. had initially been in agreement with and provided him with a preliminary US$150 million budget for. In 2016, early production had started on the film, including having Steve Carell on contract for starring. At that time, Warner Bros. Pictures CEO Greg Silverman stepped down and was replaced by Toby Emmerich who had a different vision for the studio. McElhenney's Minecraft movie "slowly died on the vine", and he eventually departed the film.
In January 2019, Peter Sollett was announced to write and direct the film, featuring a wholly different story from McElhenney's version. The film is expected to be released in theaters on 4 March 2022.
The game has inspired several officially licensed novels:
A Lego set based on Minecraft called Lego Minecraft was released on 6 June 2012. The set, called "Micro World", centres around the game's default player character and a creeper. Mojang submitted the concept of Minecraft merchandise to Lego in December 2011 for the Lego Cuusoo program, from which it quickly received 10,000 votes by users, prompting Lego to review the concept. Lego Cuusoo approved the concept in January 2012 and began developing sets based on Minecraft. Two more sets based on the Nether and village areas of the game were released on 1 September 2013. A fourth Micro World set, the End, was released in June 2014. Six more, larger Lego minifigure scale, sets became available November 2014.
Mojang often collaborates with Jinx, an online game merchandise store, to sell Minecraft merchandise, such as clothing, foam pickaxes, and toys of creatures in the game. By May 2012, over 1 million dollars were made from Minecraft merchandise sales. T-shirts and socks were the most popular products. In March 2013 Mojang signed a deal with the Egmont Group, a children's book publisher, to create Minecraft handbooks, annuals, poster books, and magazines.
MINECON (alternatively capitalized "MineCon") is an official convention dedicated to Minecraft. The first one was held in November 2011 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. All 4,500 tickets for MineCon 2011 were sold out by 31 October. The event included the official launch of Minecraft; keynote speeches, including one by Persson; building and costume contests; Minecraft-themed breakout classes; exhibits by leading gaming and Minecraft-related companies; commemorative merchandise; and autograph and picture times with Mojang employees and well-known contributors from the Minecraft community. After MineCon, there was an Into The Nether after-party with deadmau5. Free codes were given to every attendee of MineCon that unlocked alpha versions of Mojang's Scrolls, as well as an additional non-Mojang game, Cobalt, developed by Oxeye Game Studios. Similar events occurred in MineCon 2012, which took place in Disneyland Paris from in November. The tickets for the 2012 event sold out in less than two hours. MineCon 2013 was held in Orlando in November as well. MineCon 2015 was held in London in July. MineCon 2016 was held in Anaheim in September. MineCon 2017 was held as a livestream instead of being held at a show floor. Titled "MINECON Earth", it was streamed live in November. MineCon Earth 2018 followed the same format as the 2017 event, but was renamed in 2019 to "MINECON Live" to avoid confusion with Mojang's augmented-reality game, Minecraft Earth.
In MineCon Live 2019, Mojang announced that the Minecraft Festival would be an in-person event to be held September 25–27, 2020, in Orlando, Florida. The event has been postponed to late 2021 due to coronavirus fears.