WATCH — Why do games like Minecraft last so long?

Elijah Sandiford
Story by Elijah Sandiford and CBC Kids News • 2021-04-30 17:12

Game updates and community can help a game last, says expert


What were you doing 11 years and 11 months ago?

You might have been too young to ditch your wooden blocks for pixel blocks, but way back then the first version of Minecraft came out.

The popular game is one of a handful that have lasted 10 years or more.

Other long-lasting titles include: Counter Strike: Global Offensive, GTA V and Rocket League.

What’s the secret to success?

Click play to hear a couple of theories about what makes a game like Minecraft last:

Community-based gaming

For Kris Alexander, assistant professor at Toronto’s Ryerson University, the “secret sauce” behind long-lasting games is their community of players.

It “really boils down to community and you sharing an experience with somebody else,” he said in an interview with CBC Kids News.

It doesn’t matter if that experience is a team game like Counter Strike: Global Offensive or a solo-type experience in Minecraft, he said, it’s the communities that surround the game that keep it going for years and years.

Kris Alexander, who studies video games and their culture at Ryerson University in Toronto, loves seeing a game stand the test of time and become ‘a work of art,’ he said. (Image credit: CBC)

Of course, the gaming community has to be friendly for players to stick around, said Jack Downey, 14, from St. John’s, Newfoundland.

While Jack loves Minecraft, he said there are “some not nice people” in the community, and that could become a problem in the long-term.

Updates and creativity

Jack said he can see a game like Minecraft lasting the test of time if it keeps updating and expanding its worlds.

But he flagged that updates must have the community in mind.

“Updates have to be chosen carefully — and by the community — to make sure nothing gets outdated or stuff that nobody wants,” he said.

Updates, also known as DLCs, or downloadable content, add to a game once it’s been released.

Some updates are patches that fix bugs. Others add new levels, features or characters to the original game.

Some of Jack’s favourite moments in Minecraft include beating the dragon in survival mode and building one of his first Viking cabins. (Image submitted by Jack Downey)

But not everyone agrees that updates are what makes a game last.

Alexander points out that other titles like Super Smash Bros. Melee have lasted 20 years with no updates or fixes.

He asked, “Are updates something that need to happen? Or are these [games] going to exist as works of art, as they were intended, without the constant need for updates?”

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About the Contributor

Elijah Sandiford
Elijah Sandiford
CBC Kids News Contributor
You might know him as Agent Ocean on PBS’s Odd Squad or Prince Francisco in the Bruno and Boots series “This Can’t Be Happening at MacDonald Hall.” Fifteen-year-old Elijah Sandiford also has a huge passion for pop-culture, sports and content creation. After losing his father at a young age, he decided to make the most of life. His message for Canadian kids, “Dream bigger, dream brighter no matter your circumstance. The hard work you put in will take you on an exciting journey.”

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