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.
Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.
It's not just cross saves it lacks, it also has no cloud save support on PC at least as I uninstalled it and reinstalled and the progress was gone.
Also, a good point 🤦♂️
What about multiple Xbox consoles? I would assume this is the same thing?
This is really absurd in these day and age where cloud save in gaming is pretty much a standard. Even on old games through Steam platform, your saves are actually backed up and synced with your Steam account, no worries. Microsoft already has all the infrastructure and expertise and a a standard feature in modern gaming is missing? Even retro games through emulator can be saved, albeit not officially. So what's the excuse here not having in day one?
The fact that it's a first party title that isn't Xbox Play Anywhere is ridiculous. I seem to remember Microsoft promising that, yet Halo MCC, Minecraft, and now Minecraft Dungeons are somehow exempted from this. Zach Boddy even wrote a story for Windows Central saying Minecraft Dungeons was an Xbox Play Anywhere title even though it clearly isn't.
Yup, that was the understanding. It seems to have been replaced with Xbox Ultimate Game Pass, which made it all confusing on launch (Microsoft wasn't clear). No Play Anywhere, no cross-save, no local cloud-saves...it's like, what year is it? Now, if Microsoft comes out and says "we'll bring that stuff soon, but we wanted to get the game out ASAP" I'd feel a little better.
We were under the impression that it would be Xbox Play Anywhere, because our review codes gave us access to both Xbox One and Windows 10 with one code, and it just made sense. That article has since been updated with our infinite disappointment.
Thanks, I didn't see that it was updated until I cleared the app's cache.
Minecraft Education Edition has the same issue. It's a challenge for schools who use shared devices.
So does Minecraft Bedrock Edition. To be able to "cross-save" your world across different devices, they force you to subscribe to Realms Plus (which is quite pricey now because they also took away the cheaper Realms subscription option).
I completely agree Daniel. This is limiting the time I can play this game to when I can get to my console, along with the lack of cross play.
How is it possible for an Xbox Game Studios game not to be Play Anywhere and not have a cross save?
I enjoyed the game, but these issues left me extremely disappointed.
Furthermore, a mixed session between local and online multiplayer is not yet possible.
You either play locally or online, you can't do both, which is pretty silly.
I feel like Mojang's relationship with Microsoft is different from the rest of the Xbox Games Studios. They don't seem to following Microsoft's standards on anything. Minecraft is not on GamePass for PC. No play anywhere. No cross progression unless you pay for a realm. Now Minecraft Dungeons has all these missing features. Even their rename is "Mojang Studios" seems to directly compete with the "Xbox Games Studios" brand.
Has Windows Central reached out to Microsoft about this? I would love to hear their response.
I didn't realize this was the case. Been playing it on PC, but was going to install it on Xbox to play couch co-op with my roommate. Well, I guess not anymore.
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