Microsoft has taken the first big step toward unifying Minecraft for all the key platforms into ONE edition of Minecraft. This is a huge deal for the company as well as for gamers worldwide. Minecraft is the first major title where players on Xbox, Windows 10, Android, iOS and other platforms can play the same game, communicate with each other, synchronize their progress across platforms and more. Here's why this is a big deal both for Microsoft and gamers worldwide:
1. Minecraft now has an almost universal engine for almost all major platforms
Microsoft has released an updated version of the Minecraft game, named the "Better Together Update," that uses the same "Bedrock Engine" on many major platforms. This new update consolidates the different versions of Minecraft into one master version. This means that you get the same game on all the platforms where it is available, with identical gameplay, content features, goodies, extras, and more. From now on, the Bedrock Engine-based version of the game will be called simply Minecraft.
2. You get to play on multiple platforms, and you can resume your game from anywhere
You install the same Minecraft on your Windows 10 PC, on your Xbox console, your VR headset powered by Windows 10, or your smartphone with Windows 10 Mobile, Android or iOS.
This means that you can start your game at home, on your Xbox console, continue it while commuting, on your smartphone, and resume it when you take a break from work, on your Windows 10 laptop. Then, when you get back home, all your progress is available on your Xbox console.
3. You get to play with others, and they can use different platforms
Your friends may play Minecraft too but on different devices. Now you can play Minecraft on your Xbox, while a friend plays it on their Windows 10 PC, while another on their iPhone. All of you get to share cross-play across all platforms where the "Bedrock Engine" is available for Minecraft.
As a general rule of thumb, if you want a version that you can play together with others, it's called Minecraft, and you should buy that version, not others.
4. Xbox players of Minecraft get this update for free on all of their devices
Microsoft has decided to make a kind offer to existing players: if you already own an edition of Minecraft for Xbox One, you get the "Better Together Update" automatically on Android, iOS and Windows 10. There is no additional cost for those of you who have chosen Xbox over PlayStation. This is a good way for Microsoft to promote their console. However, it would have been nice to extend the same offer to Windows 10 users who have purchased Minecraft.
5. The platforms where we get universal Minecraft and the ones where we won't
This universal version of Minecraft is now available for Windows 10, Android, iOS, Xbox, Windows 10 VR headsets, and Windows 10 Mobile. Microsoft is also working to make this version available on the Nintendo Switch. They expect to have it available sometime this winter.
The biggest miss is the fact that it is NOT available on the PlayStation 4 and this is because Sony doesn't want it. Considering that PlayStation 4 has a considerable lead when it comes to users and sales, it's unlikely that Sony will be budging on this issue. Also, the universal version is not available on Mac, Linux, and the Nintendo Wii U.
6. Minecraft is renamed to Minecraft: Java Edition where the universal version is not available
We said that the Bedrock Engine-based version of the game is called Minecraft on all platforms where it is available. On those where it is not available, it will most likely be renamed to "Minecraft: Java Edition."
There will always be small differences between "Minecraft: Java Edition" and Minecraft. However, Microsoft plans to release updates for both versions in similar timeframes.
7. Minecraft may become the first major game that is platform-agnostic
Many people don't realize that this move is a first in the world of big gaming titles. Microsoft is finally developing a title that is platform agnostic, with the same engine on all of its devices, as well as on competing platforms. You get the same content everywhere, as well as cross-play with gamers on different platforms. This approach will surely please gamers worldwide and, hopefully for Microsoft, will increase its market share for Xbox too.
What do you think of Microsoft's approach with Minecraft?
We love Microsoft's approach with Minecraft, and we hope that gamers worldwide will enjoy it too. If you want more technical details, directly from the team that is developing the game, we recommend that you read: Better Together FAQ. Don't hesitate to update your copies of Minecraft, play the game and share your opinion in the comments below.