Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Minecraft's PC share shrinks as users stampede to cheaper console and mobile versions

Mark Hachman | June 3, 2016
Microsoft's simply offering too much value in its console and mobile versions for the average consumer to wrestle with the PC edition.

If you still think Minecraft is a PC game—well, you’re flat wrong. According to new numbers released by Mojang and Microsoft, the original version for the PC is the least popular platform, in almost every region worldwide.

Microsoft said Thursday that Minecraft has sold more than 106,859,714 copies to date across all platforms—which would represent the twelfth most populous nation in the world, right behind Japan. Four copies have even been sold into Antarctica. 

But if you dig into Microsoft’s numbers, they reveal that far, far more users are buying Minecraft on platforms other than the PC. In fact, in the United States, the number of traditional copies of Minecraft sold on the PC is just 19 percent. Console sales represent 41 percent, just topping the 40 percent of users who have bought the Pocket Edition for mobile and the UWP version of the game. That’s much the same worldwide, too.

minecraft infographic crop 
Minecraft simply isn’t a PC game any more, according to Microsoft’s latest numbers. Credit: Mojang

Why this matters: For many years, Minecraft offered elements of the game on the PC that simply weren’t available elsewhere, with mods and shared servers being the chief appeal. Mojang and Microsoft also prioritized the PC, launching new features (special “redstone” blocks, potions, new enemies and skins) on the PC first, and then later porting them over to other platforms. Over time, some of these key PC-centric features have been pushed to other platforms. Today, Minecraft’s console and mobile versions might not offer quite the same flexibility, but they’re a good compromise.

The PC as just another device

This all might come as a surprise to PC gamers, given that Minecraft was one of the games that, for a while, was synonymous with the PC. From 2009 to 2011, Minecraft existed solely on the PC as pre-release software, gaining an audience by word of mouth. Creator Markus “Notch” Persson also committed to offering the full version of the game to those who purchased it while in its beta state.

In 2011, however, Persson released an early alpha of the game to the Google Play app store, and in 2012 he ported the game to the Microsoft Xbox 360.  Today, you can find Minecraft everywhere: as a PC game written in Java, but also for OS X and Linux; for Android and iOS; the PlayStation 3, 4, and PlayStation Vita; and the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Microsoft also has rewritten Minecraft in C++ as a so-called UWP app, capable of being run on the PC as well as Windows phones. (Minecraft for the PC exists in two versions: the traditional Win32 Java app, and the more limited beta of the Pocket Edition UWP app.)


1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.