Think that the headline-grabbing Fortnite is the world’s most popular video game right now? Think again. Publisher Microsoft has revealed that Minecraft, the voxel-based building and survival game, has over 91 million active monthly players.
That’s a significant 13 million advance on the record 78.3 million players that Fortnite posted in August this year. Minecraft is the second highest selling video game of all time, behind classic puzzler Tetris, with 154 million copies sold worldwide.
In addition to these sales, the game is available for free in China, published by Chinese tech giant NetEase in collaboration with Microsoft, and has over 100 million registered users, giving Minecraft a pool of over 250 million potential players that continues to grow. The amount of monthly players has increased by 20 million in 2018 alone.
This vast player count means that Microsoft, who bought Minecraft and its development studio Mojang for $2.5bn in 2014, are unlikely to develop a Minecraft 2 any time soon as they do not want to split the enormous, active user base.
“I don’t think that makes sense for Minecraft, given the community,” Minecraft Head Helen Chiang told Business Insider. “It’s something that always fractures the community.”
“We don’t want to ask players to move from ‘Minecraft 1’ to ‘Minecraft 2.’ We want them to just enjoy ‘Minecraft,” said Chiang. “And there’s other ways that we can expand that are more meaningful and authentic to what we want to be, rather than just releasing another iteration in the way that most other franchises do.””
Instead, Microsoft are looking to expand Minecraft’s popularity with spin-offs such as the recently announced Minecraft: Dungeons. This is a combat-based dungeon-crawler crafted in the style of Minecraft and will not feature the traditional building and survival elements.
This isn’t the first time that Minecraft has expanded beyond its core conceit, which has groups of players building incredibly detailed worlds, with Telltale Games’ narrative game Minecraft: Story Mode proving such a success it was commissioned as an interactive show for Netflix before Telltale faced a majority studio closure last month.
While Minecraft hit the heights of its mainstream media attention just ahead of the 2014 sale, Microsoft have continued to grow the franchise to its current high. Often dubbed ‘digital Lego’ the main Minecraft game has expanded across multiple platforms, including Nintendo Switch, while continuous free updates has kept the game thriving.