‘Minecraft’ has been quietly dominating for over 10 years, and now has 112 million players every month

A child plays

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A child plays “Minecraft.”
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REUTERS/Matthew Tostevin

  • Sorry, “Fortnite” fans – “Minecraft” continues to quietly dominate, as it has for years.
  • The game now has over 112 million players every month, “Minecraft” studio head Helen Chiang told Business Insider in a phone interview this week. “Over the past five years since the acquisition, ‘Minecraft’ is continuing to grow,” she said.
  • “Minecraft” is a rare case of a game with “long legs” – it continues to sell for years – in the hit-driven video game industry where sales charts often look like a hockey stick.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For over 10 years, the wildly popular game “Minecraft” has been a cultural juggernaut.

Despite other major games sweeping up millions of players, like “Fortnite” and “Roblox,” “Minecraft” continues to quietly dominate.

As of this week, the game now has over 112 million players every month.

That represents a jump of over over 20 million players since the last time Microsoft announced as much, back in October 2018 – an absolutely massive increase in players, considering the game has been available for over 10 years. The number includes players across game consoles, computers, mobile devices, and the education-focused version of the game.

Notably, “Minecraft” isn’t free on the many platforms it’s available on.

The tens of millions of new players “Minecraft” added in the last year all bought the game in one form or another, whether it was a direct purchase of a physical copy in a store or as part of Microsoft’s popular Game Pass subscription service or a digital purchase.

Read more: Why there won’t be a ‘Minecraft 2,’ according to the people in charge of ‘Minecraft’

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“Minecraft” is getting a major graphics overhaul on PC which employs a burgeoning graphics technology called “Ray Tracing.” Microsoft is working with NVIDIA on the update, using NVIDIA’s RTX graphics cards.
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Nvidia/Microsoft

Early success has persisted

The game has been a famously explosive phenomenon since early in its life; “Minecraft” started as a work-in-progress game, made by a single man (Markus “Notch” Persson). It had rudimentary graphics and controls. It was only available on PC. It was prone to breaking, because it was an unfinished game being made by a single person.

And yet, millions of people bought and played that early version of “Minecraft.”

When Microsoft bought the game back in 2014 for $2.5 billion, the tech world was surprised and confused by the purchase.

But clearly that early success has persisted under Microsoft’s care across the past five years.

“What we find is that it’s a game that players keep coming back to,” Helen Chiang, “Minecraft” studio head, told Business Insider in a phone interview this week. “It may not always be the one that’s in the forefront, because there are a lot of great games that continue to come out, but it’s one that they love to return to.”

Why ‘Minecraft’ has been such a hit

So, why is “Minecraft” so popular?

We’re talking about a game that looks like this:

Minecraft

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Microsoft/Mojang

Think of “Minecraft” as virtual LEGO.

It’s a system for fitting pieces together to create something – sometimes amazing somethings – from nothing. “Minecraft” provides endless building blocks and a blank canvas; it’s up to you to create something incredible, or silly, or referential, or whatever else using the tools it provides. The tools are blessedly user-friendly, as are the systems for employing those tools.

With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why “Minecraft” has been such a hit.

That it’s graphically rudimentary and simple to play just makes it all the more accessible to a massive audience – over 112 million people every month, apparently.