Mojang’s sandbox hit Minecraft is celebrating its 10-year anniversary today (May 17th, 2019) from the first time it was released to the public.
Though initially launched in 2009 before entering beta in 2010, the “official” release didn’t come until 2011. It was released across PC, Mac and Linux, as well as iOS and Android. It also later came to consoles.
Such was the game’s success, Microsoft eventually snapped up Swedish developer Mojang and the Minecraft IP for some $2.5 billion in September 2014.
One of the all-time best-selling games
Across platforms, Minecraft is now said to have sold more than 154 million copies worldwide and has picked up over 91 million monthly active users.
At the time the MAUs were reported, the figure was more than battle royale sensation’s approximate 78m MAUs.
On mobile, the game has consistently been a top grosser on the premium game charts throughout the years.
At this week’s Mobile Growth Summit in London, Newzoo head of analytics Jelle Kooistra said that in 2018 Minecraft was the only premium game among the top 250 grossing mobile titles. It’s an impressive feat in a market dominated by free-to-play.
Sensor Tower estimated that Minecraft mobile’s earnings on mobile in 2018 hit $110 million - its best year yet on the platform and up seven per cent from 2017 when it took $103 million across the App Store and Google Play.
The majority of sales, $52.8m (48 per cent), came from the US; while the UK was the second most popular, generating $7.3m (6.6 per cent); with Japan coming a close third at $5.5m (five per cent).
In total, since 2014 Minecraft is estimated to have grossed nearly $500 million worldwide as of February 2019.
Minecraft now has more than 200 million registered users in China.
The title has seen impressive results in China too. NetEase, which publishes a free-to-play version of the game in China, reported in its Q1 2019 financials that Minecraft now has more than 200 million registered users in the country.
Building an empire
Such is Minecraft’s success, it’s expanded outside of the core game and into other titles and media.
The Minecraft Education Edition has proven a valuable resource to schools around the world, providing a game-based learning platform to help teach subjects such as chemistry and maths. According to the game’s website, it’s been used to support thousands of educators in over 100 countries.
Now defunct narrative games specialist Telltale had developed an eight-part episodic game series called Minecraft: Story Mode, first released in 2015. A second five-episode season was later launched in 2017.
A streamable version of Minecraft: Story Mode was in the works for Netflix, but has seemingly faced hurdles from the closure of Telltale. Back in September 2018, a Netflix spokesperson said the project was “still moving forward as planned”, however.
A number of books about the game have also been published in partnership with the likes of the Egmont Group, while a movie is also in the works. The Minecraft movie has faced delays however after director Rob McElhenney (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) left the project last year.
Warner Bros, the studio behind the film, was reported to have picked up writer/director pair Aaron and Adam Nee (Band of Robbers, Masters of the Universe) to begin a total rework of the script.
As Microsoft sets out to expand the IP further in 2019, it's revealed a new mobile augmented reality game called Minecraft Earth. You can view the official reveal trailer below.
You can find out more details about the history of Minecraft over on the special anniversary website.
In 2012 I wrote an inside story with key members of the Mojang team about the early days of Minecraft and its subsequent success, which you can read right here.