Mojang certainly has enough reason to celebrate and throw a party for five thousand people in Las Vegas. Minecraft officially releases today, and the game has already sold more than 4 million copies. To reach an even bigger and broader audience, the iOS version was released yesterday and has quickly become the top-selling app. It’s clear that there’s a massive and devoted fan following for the 3D blocky sandbox game that began back in 2009, and now Microsoft is hoping to introduce the game to its 35 million plus Xbox Live Arcade subscribers.
Announced during the Microsoft press conference at E3 earlier this year, Minecraft will be compatible with Kinect, but no further details were given at this time. The focus of the demo at MineCon was to show us how it looks on the Xbox 360 and to walk us through the new interface and let us get a feel for the game without a mouse and keyboard.
Minecraft isn’t exactly pushing the boundaries from a graphical standpoint, but the auto-generated world we dived into looked just like the massive never-ending worlds we’ve explored on the PC. Our first run didn’t exactly produce the most alluring landscape since it was devoid of trees - a vital resource to get started. But after some exploring we stumbled upon some scenic vistas and dark caverns to dig through.
Once we familiarized ourselves with the buttons, it felt very much like a first-person shooter: Our movements are controlled by the two analog sticks and our actions are tied to the trigger buttons. To make the menu system as simple as possible, the inventory is mapped to one button and a separate button will bring up a new crafting interface (pictured below). Gone are the days of keeping the Minecraft wiki open in one window; now we have all the information at our fingertips, including recipes and item descriptions. All the items are sorted into convenient groups, and a colored indicator lets players know if they have all the materials or not. Instead of dragging and dropping, we found the item we're looking to create, pushed a button, and voila! While it wasn’t shown, we were told there will be a tutorial included as well to ease newcomers into the world of Minecraft.
Multiplayer will be an option to gold member subscribers, but Microsoft was tight-lipped about details pertaining to anything outside of the new crafting interface. We'll have more for you in the coming months, so get your pickaxes ready as Minecraft for the Xbox 360 is scheduled to be released in spring 2012.