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Mojang on Minecraft: Pocket Edition's evolution into a mobile juggernaut

Andrew Hayward | Aug. 14, 2014
Minecraft is an absolute sensation of a game, having sold more than 54 million copies across platforms and spawning all sorts of officially licensed doodads--like branded LEGO sets, foam swords, and a seemingly endless array of t-shirts. Leading the pack in sales isn't the original PC version, nor any of the home console ports, which have collectively moved past the computer edition in total copies sold.

"I think players know by now that they can trust us to add more content to the game, over time; plus, they also know the price will not go down, and that once you have the game, you get all of it. Probably this allows players to make a 'premium' investment in the first place, because hey, what would be the point of waiting?" notes Checchi. "I would say our strategy is that you pay money and get Minecraft. Simple as that!"

And they've found that the people paying for Pocket Edition might not be who you think they are. Namely, most players aren't PC version owners seeking an on-the-go version of Minecraft for a mobile fix away from home. "For most of our players, Pocket Edition is not the PC's plan B," says Checchi.

Pocket Edition players also skew younger than on other platforms — something I've seen with my own teenage and pre-teen nephews, who are crazy about it — and large numbers come from countries like Korea and Japan that increasingly prefer mobile devices to traditional computers. "Being on a platform so accessible and intuitive for kids is pretty great to cement the 'LEGO of our generation' reputation that the game has," adds Checchi, "removing all of the (admittedly not so much) complex setup and care that playing on a PC still requires." 

And that initial decision to start small on mobile and expand over time has clearly panned out in the sales numbers. "It was fun seeing Pocket Edition surpass the PC version. We have put a lot of effort into making Pocket Edition as good as possible, but I think it is a bit unfair to compare it with the PC and console versions," asserts Bernhardsson. "We are just happy that so many people are having fun playing the game, and are now also starting to build up a community around the Pocket Edition. I [always thought] that Minecraft is Minecraft, but all the versions have different ways of playing, which makes it a lot more fun." 

A bigger Pocket

Even with the huge recent update, Pocket Edition isn't done growing — but the way that enhancements arrive is changing. It took seven months for 0.9.0 to launch with its big heap of additions, but the planned 0.10, 0.11, and 0.12 updates will likely come faster and with just one big feature anchoring each set of tweaks. Checchi couldn't specify the order at which features will be added, but says he wants to redo the touch controls to add sprinting and crouching, as well as add boats for improved exploration. Bernhardsson has also mentioned on Twitter that 0.10 will add player skins, a much-requested perk.

 

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