Minecraft Needs to Make the Jump to Next-Gen

Microsoft built its Xbox brand on Halo: Combat Evolved, but the range of Microsoft-owned titles has become incredibly diverse with time. The Xbox Game Studios umbrella grows with acquisitions like ZeniMax Media and its subsidiary Bethesda Softworks last year, but few have arguably made as much of an impact as Microsoft purchasing Mojang and its popular sandbox title Minecraft for $2.5 billion USD in 2014.

Many people might not think about Minecraft as an Xbox property considering it's still available on competing Sony and Nintendo consoles, but it has become a cornerstone of Microsoft's brand recognition over the last seven years. In fact, Minecraft was prominantly featured in matketing material for the Xbox's 20th anniversary in 2021. It's the best-selling video game of all time and continues to implement new content every few months, so it's strange Minecraft doesn't have PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S versions over a year into the latest console generation.

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Minecraft Grows Bigger All the Time

Minecraft was an international sensation years before Microsoft acquired Mojang, having hosted its first dedicated convention in 2010 prior to the game's official 1.0 launch during MineCon 2011. What began as a barebones building game with voxel-based graphics had evolved with a myriad of additional mechanics, inspiring copycat games and launching untold numbers of careers on social media. Minecraft videos on YouTube collectively passed a trillion views in December 2021, and the franchise is nowhere near the end of its life.

Major updates have changed the face of Minecraft since Microsoft's acquisition, including The Nether Update in 2020 and most recently its two-part Caves and Cliffs update. The Wild Update was announced at Minecraft Live 2021, set to revamp swamps and other overworld biomes, as well as introduce the "Deep Dark" underground. Multiple different Minecraft games have also expanded its reach, from an augmented Minecraft: Education Edition to experimental spin-offs like the now-defunct AR mobile game Minecraft Earth and the Diablo-like dungeon crawler Minecraft Dungeons.

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The Benefits of a Next-Gen Minecraft Release

While Mojang has focused on growing its IP under Microsoft, the original game has also released on various devices during each new console generation. The Nintendo Switch received two different versions, with a standalone Switch edition releasing in 2017 (including unique content like a Super Mario-themed world) followed by the standard Bedrock edition in 2018 with crossplay via a player's Microsoft account.

However, no updated versions for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S have been confirmed as of this writing. Fans can play Minecraft on their respective next-gen consoles via backwards compatibility, and Mojang's status as an Xbox Game Studio means its work is readily accessible on PC and Microsoft consoles through Game Pass. Yet next-gen versions could take full advantage of features that are currently untapped.

The increased technical specs on Sony and Microsoft's recent consoles are notable, as players could expect features like render distance comparable to PC builds, and near-instantaneous loading into a game or transitions to alternate realms like the Nether thanks to their built-in solid-state drives (SSD). Games like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart are strong showcases for the technology on PS5, and Minecraft's blocky worlds should be far less of a strain.

Individual features like the PS5's DualSense controller also offer compelling reasons to release next-gen versions of Minecraft, as Mojang could play with functionality like adaptive triggers to differentiate mining versus combat. One big reason that would benefit both consoles is ray-tracing support. Microsoft advertised the visual potential for Minecraft with ray tracing as early as March 2020 when the feature was being implemented on Windows 10.

Minecraft with Nvidia RTX support was utilized again to benefit a children's hospital this last holiday season, so it's clearly something fans are interested in. With both the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S able to support this (likely using a dedicated graphics mode that lowers performance), it's odd that Mojang has not gone all the way with new versions alongside its yearly content updates - especially when Minecraft Dungeons is optimized for the Series X/S. Perhaps plans are in the works, but with next-gen consoles difficult to come by there may not be a huge rush.

Minecraft is available now for Mobile, PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.

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Jason Rochlin (1460 Articles Published)

Jason learned to read playing Pokemon Crystal on the Game Boy Color, and hasn't looked back. He received a Journalism degree at California State University, Fullerton while working on news coverage and investigative content for its paper, and came to Game Rant soon after graduating. Nintendo games are his primary wheelhouse, but he'll try most anything once.

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