One of the great gaming mysteries of this year is the spike in interest in Minecraft, a game that has always been good, but at a decade old, you might not imagine it would be one of the most relevant titles of the year. And yet here we are, with Minecraft more popular than ever.
How did this happen? That’s a question that needs a lot of unravelling, but one answer I keep being pointed to is that PewDiePie started playing Minecraftagain, which has inspired not just his 100 million subscribers and fans, but otherYouTubers and their fans to start playing again, creating this snowball effect of interest in the game.
Is this what happened?
Yes and no. I think there is a perfect storm of events that have led to this Minecraft surge. And yes, I do think PewDiePie deserves at least some portion of the credit. But perhaps not for starting this wave in the first place.
Today In: Innovation
1.14 and the 10th Year Anniversary
That chart above shows the Google Trend interest graph of Minecraft for part of this year, and you can see when it starts to tick up pretty clearly. That would be in mid to late April, right around the release of the 1.14 update, and just before the 10th Year Anniversary of the game. The 1.14 update, Village and Pillage, added a whole bunch of new content to the game which likely drove increased interest among existing Minecraft players, and caused others to return.
The next Trend graph above shows the decline of Fortnite to the point where it was surpassed by Minecraft for the first time. Fortnite has simply been on the decline for a while now. It’s still a massive game, but recent seasons have done relatively little to energize the base, and this happened around the end of season 9 and continues through the first half of season 10 here, where interest is noticeably dipping thanks in part to bad additions like the mech, or just general fatigue. And many have switched over to Minecraft.
But here comes PewDiePie. In the final graph above, you can see that Minecraft was starting to dip again before interest shot up at its fastest rate yet. When did that happen? Almost exactly when PewDiePie released his first Minecraft video in eons on June 21. That video now has 28 million views, and in the two months since, PewDiePie has uploaded 50 Minecraft videos, probably 90% of his content during that time, and each of those average between 10-15 million views, more than his old non-Minecraft content. He’s played Minecraft with James Charles and Jack Black. He’s gotten married in Minecraft. He has well over half a billion views on his Minecraft videos in the last two months. It’s impossible to say that as the biggest YouTuber in the world, he hasn’t had some significant measure of impact in keeping the Minecraft renaissance rolling, even if he wasn’t the catalyst that started it.
As of late, the trend chart is showing another dip, so things may be starting to slide a little bit more now. But Minecraft is still going strong on YouTube and Twitch both, so it maintains a strong position. We are about to enter into a crowded fall release season which could occupy the time of gamers with other offerings, and yet clearly, Minecraft is immortal, and it can break out even ten years later and still feel fresh and fun. We’ll see what happens next.