Minecraft Legends has just been releasedgiving players another chance to return to the charming and blocky world of Minecraft.
The original Minecraft was first released in 2011 and offers players a vast and open world made up of different types of cubes to explore and build. The eponymous mining is central to the game, with players acquiring resources to craft in buildings and goods. Other parts of the game offer combat, secrets and even constructions complex programming-like mechanisms.
Minecraft is widely regarded as one of the most successful computer games ever created. Originally created by a handful of independent game developers, it was sold to Microsoft for US$2.5 billion (A$3.7 billion) in 2014. Since then, the game has continued to have a huge influence on gaming.
Minecraft is especially popular with children And young peoplethough people of all ages enjoy the game.
It has also spawned massive amounts of video content on sites like YouTube And Twitch. The Minecraft players who make these videos of their own game are sometimes so successful that they make live on it full time.
Spinoffs of Minecraft
The new Minecraft Legends is not the first additional Minecraft game we’ve seen. It’s nothing new for hugely successful media assets to be “spun off” into others, and Minecraft is no exception.
Games like Minecraft: Story Mode And Minecraft dungeons have also entered the market in recent years. However, where the original game was critically acclaimed and considered to be hugely influential, these receive spin-offs mixed reviews. They are rarely panned, but never come close to the success or appreciation of the original.
Minecraft: Story Mode and Minecraft Dungeons sought to bring the Minecraft world and the Minecraft fandom to new types of gameplay (narrative and “dungeon crawl”).
Minecraft Legends is another entry in this wider program. It represents another attempt to take a stunningly successful game and find new ways to engage players – and of course profit – from a game world’s existing popularity.
The Minecraft universe gained such a strong following and culture because of its features fundamental ideas And what they offered players. Legends is trying to put this one in a different game altogether. There is no doubt that some will buy and play it purely because of the Minecraft label. Yet this is not the same as creating something as enduring and impactful as the original.
Different from the mines
These games struggle to capture great interest from Minecraft players precisely because they differ so greatly from the original game.
They also fail to attract new fans interested in the genre but not the setting precisely because of their Minecraft association. This is one of the difficult problems faced by a company trying to spin off games in this way. Neither the original audience nor an imagined future group of consumers is overly interested in the offering. It’s too different from the original Minecraft before many of his playersand too much like it it to bring new players on board.
This battle is not new. Many spin-off media properties that change significantly from the original find it difficult to find an audience.
Comparing the success of the 2004-2009 action-packed space opera Battlestar Galactica to the general lack of interest in Caprica, the 2010 city-based and intrigue-focused spin-off, is a classic example.
Prequels, sequels, “sidequels” and spin-offs are challenging things to deal with. Trying to bring back existing audiences and bring in new audiences can be conflicting desires. Thus trying to replicate a huge success without repeating the exact content of the original.
Beyond the mines
But none of this inherently means that Minecraft’s world, setting, and visuals can’t be usefully applied elsewhere.
I am a judge of the world Generative design in Minecraft competition. This is a computer programming contest that uses Minecraft to discover new species AI-driven worlds and spaces in digital gaming.
The competition’s success in recent years has shown that Minecraft is suitable for projects well beyond its original intentions, or even beyond the extensive scope of the game in more recent years. The open ‘sandbox’ world of Minecraft provides a fascinating area for exploring artificial intelligence techniques. This is especially true of the competition’s focus on building settlements and imagined societies.
Read more: Tapping into kids’ passion for Minecraft in the classroom
Minecraft Legends will not recapture the impact of Minecraft nor, most likely, anything close to it. What it does show is yet another iteration of a massive industrial and economic juggernaut trying, with varying degrees of success, to find new ways to turn a profit. from gamers who have already invested in the Minecraft world.
My own research And others’ have explored the increasingly profit-driven nature of the “blockbuster” games industry. A game like Minecraft Legends once again shows the increasing emphasis on trying safely repeat previous wins instead of innovating.
It’s possible that the impact of the original is so great that something like this could never be replicated by Microsoft’s game developers, but that doesn’t stop them from trying.