Minecraft is a bit of an oddball among the present-day offering of top-tier video games. Its graphics are primitive, it is only available as a PC game — officially, at any rate, as there are a number of mobile clients — and it technically hasn’t even gotten a formal, final release yet, but it has still managed to generate a user base of more than two million people and earn more than $30 million since its May 2009 launch. The game officially entered its beta phase at the end of last year and now its creator, Markus Persson has announced that Minecraft will leave beta behind and become a full release on November 11, 2011.
“It’s a bit tricky to really do a release for Minecraft as we keep updating it all the time,” Persson wrote on his personal blog. “For one, the version we deem as the ‘full version’ won’t be very different at all from what the game was like a week ago, and we’ll keep adding features after the release as well, so it’s really more of a milestone when we finally get rid of the Beta label, and some kind of goal for us to work towards. The plan is to be open with this and try to get people to cheer us on as much as possible, but to be open with the fact that the game won’t change much at the actual release day.”
Wolves and cookies (no joke) were recently added to the game, and Persson mentions in the blog post that he’s hoping to bring weather effects, Achievements and improved statistics into the game for its next update, version 1.5. This has really been the pattern for Minecraft‘s unusual rollout, a sort of continuous development cycle that is largely spurred on by community input. So while most gamers look forward to a final release date with great anticipation, for Minecraft gamers it will simply be the next evolution of a game that many of them have been playing for a year or more.
The 11/11/11 release date is an interesting choice, as it is one on which the entertainment world is going to be inundated with huge product launches. The most high-profile of those is “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” — which Persson writes is “the one I’m the most excited about” — but Tarsem Singh’s movie Immortals will also be competing for attention on that day. Then again, unlike either of those, Minecraft has been available to purchase for almost two full years now. As Persson said, not much is going to be change. The big question among fans right now seems to be exactly what will change, specifically whether or not the game’s incremental, feature-adding updates will continue to be free to all players once the beta phase is over.