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Image courtesy of Microsoft.

The Beginning of Minecraft

During early stages, the game that would become¬†Minecraft was code named “Cave Game.” Later, it was named “Minecraft: Order of the Stone,” before it simplified it’s name to just Minecraft.

Minecraft‘s first official release was May 17th, 2009. In June, multiplayer was available. By October, the first survival test was fully live. Minecraft as we know it was just starting to blossom and had infinite potential.

By August 2010 the first legend of Herobrine surfaces. The game is now in Alpha. In October the Nether is introduced in the “Halloween Update.” This same month Mojang AB is founded. December sees the game entering beta.

The Nether. Image courtesy of Mojang.

In no time at all, Minecraft reached 10 million users by July 2011. In the next year, the Pocket Edition is revealed and the Xbox 360 version released. The “Pretty Scary Update” brings new mobs and the “Redstone Update” (March 2013). Minecraft¬†began looking very much like the base game we see today.

Moving on, the introduction of horses in the “Horse Update” makes the game even better. The PlayStation comes out with versions of Minecraft as well. The end of 2013 had Minecraft Realms beta. Then, September 2014 was the last release of Minecraft under Notch: “The Bountiful Update,” adding many new biomes to the game.

That same month, Minecraft and Mojang were purchased by Microsoft for $2.5 billion.

The Modern of Minecraft

Microsoft had big shoes to fill. By September 2014 the game sold over 13 million copies. One of the first things Microsoft does, by long-standing popular demand, is allow username changes. By June 2015, Minecraft sells 20 million copies. July sees the introduction of the Windows 10 Edition Beta, as well as Telltale Games‘s Minecraft: Story Mode.

We don’t see a major update for Java Minecraft under Microsoft until February 2016 with the “Combat Update.” The rest of 2016 sees the “Frostburn Update,” the “Exploration Update,” and the major overhaul of the End with the “Ender Update.” Despite being slow on first releasing updates, Microsoft was suddenly pumping them out, hard.

The Ender Dragon. Image courtesy of Mojang.

Minecraft came to the Switch in 2017. The 3DS also gets it’s own version of Minecraft as well that year. Microsoft starts releasing Minecraft novels. Microsoft ends 2017 big with part one of the major upgrade, the “Aquatic Update.”

Sales under Microsoft explode with all the additional platforms the game supports. At the beginning of 2018, there are 74 million active players and 144 million total sales. By the end of 2018, the “Village and Pillage” updates begin, and at this time snapshots are still being released.

Indie vs Corporate

Now, the question is, was Minecraft better when it was being developed under Notch or Microsoft?

It’s no question that sales shot up like crazy under Microsoft, and a big part of that is with the multiple versions and consoles it could be played on. They released the “Education Edition” for schools. Microsoft was responsible for the first version of Minecraft on a Nintendo product. A big powerhouse like Microsoft can push the marketing and merchandising for Minecraft to a whole new level. But does that mean the game is getting better?

Minecraft: Story Mode. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

The addition of horses under Notch gave Minecraft a much needed transportation update. The various types and variations of mobs gave the game character. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been adding even more variety to the game, and I have to ask myself if it’s for the better.

Notch’s updates seemed like they were addressing real problems in the game that needed improvement. However, under Microsoft, most of the updates seem aesthetic and not necessary. However, Microsoft does listen well to feedback from the community on updates, such as casting votes for a new cat skin. But that’s not the same as addressing problems in the game.

Survival vs. Surviving

The thing that I notice the most under Microsoft’s version of Minecraft is that it significantly raises the difficulty of the game. The addition of multiple new types of aggressive mobs in the “Village and Pillage” update, and the addition of aggressive water mobs in “the Aquatic Update,” makes exploration cumbersome and dangerous.

The Aquatic Update. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

It’s next to impossible to get away from a drowned zombie after it breaks your boat in the middle of the ocean. Good luck getting your items back, even though they float now. The pillagers have waves of difficulty with the “bad omen” mechanic. Just want to build your house? Too bad, everything wants to kill you.

In addition, some of the added passive mobs seem like overkill. Llamas? Sure, they let you carry a lot of items, but so could horses or donkeys. It would have been fine to update horses and donkeys to caravan like llamas. I also feel like all these extra ways to craft in the latest snapshots are unnecessary.

However, survival is only one aspect of Minecraft.

Who Did it Better?

I honestly find myself having the most fun playing Minecraft when I focus on the Notch side of things. I don’t dual-wield, I don’t catch llamas, I stay out of the ocean except to cross it, and I don’t even go to the End. I enjoy Minecraft the most in just surviving and building a humble home. I avoid conflict with mobs when I can, and the addition of all these extra aggressive mobs just frustrates my ability to explore the world.

Now, I don’t hate everything that Microsoft has done. Turtles and pandas seem pretty useless in the grand scheme of things, but they are cute to stumble upon. I don’t hate the Phantom mob, because they aren’t really that threatening or out of place in the world.

Pandas in the “Village and Pillage” update. Image courtesy of Gamepedia.

The non-aggressive mob aspects of the Aquatic update are awesome, giving the ocean a much needed aesthetic makeover. Other void areas like The End now have things to do in them. And finally, adding multiple stairs and walls was amazing for us house-builders that need everything to match.

However, all in all, I feel like Microsoft has a much different perspective of success than Notch did. It’s not a bad thing, but it makes the vanilla experience feel more modded and less original.

Then again, Notch has gotten a little loud since leaving Mojang, so maybe Minecraft is better off in Microsoft’s hands.

Who do you think did it better: Notch or Microsoft? Or do modders do it even better than both of them? Let us know in the comments below!