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1. It Normalized Paying for Unfinished Games
Not every aspect of Minecraft’s influence and legacy is necessarily positive. For example, one of the more annoying things that Minecraft helped normalize is gamers paying for unfinished games.
Back before it officially launched, Notch was very transparent that Minecraft was an unfinished game. Nonetheless, good word-of-mouth and the sheer fun factor caused millions of gamers to check it out early.
Fast forward to today and we have plenty of gamers trying to urge the community to stop pre-ordering games and paying for Early Access to shitty titles. Unfortunately, asking gamers for money in exchange for an unfinished title has become normalized thanks to Minecraft.
2. Playing and Creating, Rolled Into One
There are countless theories about what made Minecraft so popular and so revolutionary. One of the best theories, though, is that this game effortlessly bridged the gap between creating virtual worlds and interacting with them.
Obviously, there were plenty of games making use of user-generated content. One of the most popular was Little Big Planet. But it was tough to create in that game space, so we ended up with a lopsided community where a few people created content and everyone else enjoyed their labor.
Minecraft has some very ambitious creators, and it’s very easy to join various servers to experience what they have made. But Minecraft is also the digital equivalent of playing with Lego blocks: anyone can shift from exploration to creation to combat instantly, creating a real sense of community.
3. Breathing New Life Into the Mod Scene
Speaking of community, one of the communities that Minecraft breathed new life into was the modding community.
Obviously, gaming mods have been around for a long time. Back in 1993, Doom helped to normalize our expectations for customizable games. But for the longest time, modders were a very small subset of gamers, and methods of installing mods were both abstruse and obtuse.
Then Minecraft came along. The game was made easy to mod from the very beginning, and Mojang encouraged modders to share their new code freely. This, combined with various launchers making it easy to play these mods, helped make modding mainstream.
4. Collaborative Multiplayer
Have you ever tried to explain what Minecraft is about to someone who doesn’t know? It’s harder than it sounds. That is because Minecraft lacks the traditional gaming goals like “get to the end of this level.” Instead, players mostly make their own goals, usually with the cooperation of fellow gamers.
In other words, most games fall into two camps: competitive games where you defeat your opponents and collaborative games where you work together towards set goals. But Minecraft presented a third option: collaborative gaming, in which players developed their own goals together and created a genuine sense of freedom and play.
You can see the influence of this approach in many successful games, including the insanely successful title Roblox.
5. A Youtube Community Is Born
The gaming industry enjoys an uncomfortable and symbiotic relationship with the streaming community. Gaming streamers obviously rely on new games in order to create videos and get clicks. But wary game devs know full well that the approval or disapproval of streamers can help make a game either sink or swim.
For better or for worse, Minecraft helped launch plenty of streaming careers. The game became the focus of countless Let’s Play videos, launched the careers of people like DanTDM, and created entire Youtube communities. And as Twitch became popular, Minecraft became the game of choice for many of its biggest streamers such as tommyinnit, Quackity, and Dream.
Game devs took note, and many devs began actively courting streamers as a way of keeping their games relevant.
6. A Video Game Marketing Revolution
If you could go back in time and describe Minecraft to someone before it came out, they’d likely think you were pulling their leg. Especially when you got to this part: one of the most popular games in the world achieved its initial success with almost no marketing.
The secret to the game’s success, on many different levels, was that Notch openly collaborated with players willing to playtest his game for many hours each day. Sure, Notch benefited from free labor, and the success of Minecraft eventually transformed him into a crazy person. But in those early days, he understood the value of free labor helping him perfect the game.
What Notch may or may not have understood was the power of word-of-mouth marketing. All of these early testers told their friends, and more people jumped on board the Minecraft wagon. This led to early publicity that was better than any traditional marketing campaign, and this is the kind of lightning-in-a-bottle magic modern devs keep trying to recreate with alpha tests, beta tests, and Early Access games.
7. Minecraft In the Classroom
One of the biggest ways that Minecraft influences the gaming industry is kind of insidious. That’s because it all starts within the classroom.
If you don’t already know, there is a Minecraft Education Edition intended for use by teachers. With it, they help students learn skills ranging from coding to physics. And there is a lot of value here, especially as more teachers embrace hands-on learning via video games.
However, the other side of this coin is that Minecraft has now inserted itself into classrooms all around the world. When the youth of today become the game devs of tomorrow, they will have grown up with Minecraft as a fundamental part of their early education. And that means we’ll be seeing the impact of Minecraft long, long after Notch has transformed his mansion into a doomsday bunker because he saw a black dude outside.