As Minecraft’s tenth anniversary dawns, its owner Microsoft has revealed that the game has sold 176 million copies.
Minecraft is no doubt a bona fide cultural phenomenon. It’s star may have faded a little compared to the high of a few years ago, but it can truly stand along household names like Tetris, Pong and Fortnite as a giant of the medium. And at 176 million copies sold, it is probably the best selling game of all time.
Why ‘probably’? The simple reason is that is near impossible to track the sales of Tetris in all its variants. And it’s fair to consider all the base Tetris games, as Microsoft’s 176 million figure includes all versions of the main Minecraft game, from the PC original and Switch port to the likes of the mobile-only Minecraft: Pocket Edition.
As PC Gamer points out, over time Tetris may have sold anything from 170 million to 425 million copies. There is no definitive figure; particularly as it’s so hard to separate official releases and clones. Minecraft can certainly boast of the highest known sales figures for any game.
It’s also worth noting here that traditional sales don’t carry the clout they used to. Fortnite has 250 million players, but being a free-to-play game, there are no ‘sales’ to speak of. Of course, the original game Fortnite: Save the World began as a paid for early access title, but that is now a distinct title from the free Battle Royale version that has become the standout success.
Still, Minecraft’s 176 million sales – and the associated merchandise and licensing empire – is not bad for a game initially developed by one person as a side project while they worked at a small tech company providing online photo gallery back-ends. Indeed, the first release of Minecraft came quietly, landing on a developer forum.
In 2014 Microsoft acquired Mojang – the game studio behind Minecraft – for USD$2.4bn (£1.9bn)
The yet-to-be released AR game Minecraft Earth lets players build Minecraft environments within the real world using technology comparable to that seen in another sensationally popular video game of late, Pokemon Go.
̶The game’s mechanics are simple: explore your neighbourhood to find blocks and unique mobs for your builds,” wrote Saxs Persson, creative director of Minecraft for Microsoft, describing Minecraft Earth. ̶Once you have them, any flat surface is an opportunity to build. Team up with friends to create amazing builds on Build Plates, and then place them in the real world to explore at life-size. You can even put your survival skills to the test and battle mobs IRL! Craft new items, breed mobs, grow crops –it’s Minecraft as you know it in a way you’ve never seen before. There’s endless fun to be had and it’s even better with friends.”
Below you can see an early trailer of Minecraft Earth.