Microsoft recently released its anticipated Minecraft Dungeons, a "causal dungeon crawler," across Xbox One, Windows 10, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. Our review praised it, and the community consensus says it's a solid game, with many years of potential ahead of it.
As someone who never really got into the original Minecraft, Minecraft Dungeons is a breath of fresh air. It is a more classic arcade game that falls back to traditional elements with levels, goals, a story, and even some loot-grinding for those rare items. The TL;DR is I love it. The graphics are gorgeous, the gameplay challenging, the story…well, there is one.
But I find Microsoft's decision not to include cross-save (not to be confused with cross-play) completely stupid. It is a poor gaming experience in 2020, and the company is leaving money on the table. Here's why.
The issue: Let me play anwhere, for real
Microsoft has already noted that the ability to play across devices e.g., Xbox One players vs. Nintendo Switch ones, is a feature coming in a later update. I could lament that it is not here on day one, but with the current pandemic, and the fact we know it will be here in a future update makes it seems trivial and moot.
When it comes to cross-saves, two versions are relevant:
- Save on one platform, pick up on another e.g., PC to PlayStation 4.
- Save on one platform, pick up on the same e.g., PC to PC.
Minecraft Dungeons, inexplicably, has neither cross-save option.
The idea here is obvious: you'll want to save your game progress and your character's collection of loot. Playing for hours on Xbox One only to start entirely over on PC – especially when you get both through GamePass Ultimate – is ridiculous.
Ideally, a cross-platform game would have both cross-save methods as options for players. Being able to play on Xbox One and pick up your save with a Nintendo Switch would be one heck of an experience for Minecraft Dungeons. Much like the Destiny series, there tends to be a lot of grinding to find rare artifacts, weapons, and "best" items that would benefit from such an ability.
The second one seems more pedestrian but also obvious. If you play on your desktop PC, switching over to your laptop PC should let you continue the same game. After all, there are no compatibility and platform issues and restrictions to blocking such a feature, so why not? It all goes through the Microsoft Store.
To make matters worse, as mentioned in the comments, there is no local cloud-save either. That means if you uninstall Minecraft Dungeons from your PC, good-bye all progress. I mean, really.
But what makes such news awful is there is no indication it is ever coming either. That is perplexing. Microsoft owns Azure and readily has available quite a bit of cloud resources to enable either option. If there is any company that could make such a feature happen, it is Microsoft.
Were Microsoft to come out and say they could not get cross-save out on launch, but it's coming later, that's fine. No sweat. But that is not happening here.
Multiple buys: Money on the table
What makes this whole Minecraft Dungeons thing weirder is it's a financial issue too. Forget the dream of buying a game license on one platform to play everywhere; I'd be willing to throw some extra cash to buy a Nintendo Switch edition of Minecraft Dungeons if I knew I could play it across my devices. I'm sure I'm not alone on that either.
There are undoubtedly technical issues in making cross-saves happen, especially across different platforms. But when a company builds a game from the ground up in this modern age and has the resources of Microsoft at its disposal, it is entirely absurd not to have this ability.
Indeed, there are some clever workarounds for cross-saving – at least on PC to PC. Someone on Reddit recently posted a how-to that uses Dropbox to sync the game's progress and character between Windows devices. It's technical, convoluted, and tricky, especially if you want to use another cloud server. But it works.
Microsoft missed an opportunity here with Minecraft Dungeons. It's a casual, fun romp of a game that already has a long road of DLC expansion packs ahead of it. The idea that kids to adults want to jump from console to PC to the Switch is not rocket science; it's how we consume games and media. Hopefully, someone at Redmond will pick up on that and figures this nonsense out.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.