Minecraft had a massive year in 2020, and Mojang Studios is already looking ahead to 2021

Village at sunset
Village at sunset (Image credit: Windows Central)

Minecraft is a lot of things to a lot of people. Many gamers may write it off as nothing more than a child's game. Others may overlook it as irrelevant in the incredibly vibrant video game world of 2020. Countless more still see Minecraft as an incredible game filled with endless possibilities. There's a grain of truth everywhere, as Minecraft continues to be one of our top picks for the Best Xbox Games for Kids, there were genuinely a ridiculous number of amazing games released this year (like what was featured in our Windows Central Game Awards), and—most importantly—Minecraft had its biggest year yet in 2020.

This year has been filled with change, hardships, and surprising pockets of unerring light scattered amidst all the chaos we've found. This has been no less true with video games, and changing work environments hasn't stopped Mojang Studios from going from strength to strength with Minecraft. While 2020 may have been the most successful year so far for Minecraft, arguably the world's most famous game is already looking to top itself in 2021.

An overview of success

Minecraft Nether Update Java Image

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Minecraft was initially released in 2009, and since then has captured players old and new alike with a constant onslaught of updates, new content, and evolution that continues to make Minecraft's classic and studied gameplay feel modern in 2020. In particular, this year was a big one, both behind-the-scenes and for Minecraft's millions of players. Let's take a look at highlights from Mojang Studios and Minecraft in 2020.

Minecraft Dungeons Redstone Monstrosity

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Minecraft through 2020 is a little different from previous years because there are now two full-blown Minecraft games out in the wild. Alongside all of the wonderful things the vanilla Minecraft we know and love accomplished, Mojang Studios successfully expanded the Minecraft universe into something that can now be considered a franchise. Enter the co-op focused, dungeon-crawling, gear-looting ARPG Minecraft Dungeons, which combines classic Minecraft visuals, mobs, and locations into an all-new genre.

Minecraft went from strength-to-strength, but it wasn't without struggle.

Dedicated Minecraft fans may have noticed my omission so far with Minecraft Earth. Mojang Studios' mobile AR spin-off of Minecraft from 2019 is still around, but missteps at launch and an aggressively moving mobile environment mean Minecraft Earth isn't in a much better place than it was at the end of last year. That being said, Mojang Studios has continued to update and support Minecraft Earth through 2020 with new content, Seasons, and more, which is commendable in itself.

2020 saw Minecraft and Mojang Studios go from strength-to-strength throughout the year, an impressive accomplishment that captured the attention of new gamers, drew back players that had previously stopped playing, and made people genuinely excited about Minecraft again. But it wasn't without struggle.

Strength from strife

Pretty ores in a line

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

You'd have to be hiding deep inside a Minecraft cave not to realize what kind of year 2020 has been. The entire year has been overshadowed by a global pandemic, which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives and kept us all more-or-less locked inside. This has also meant enormous consequences and changes for, well, literally everything, with many companies making moves to allow employees to work entirely from home.

Mojang Studios was not exempt from this, and their team has been working mostly from home for much of the year. Despite these profound changes, the team has continued to work hard on Minecraft, releasing update after update to fix bugs, add features, and ensure that Minecraft works for the millions of newfound gamers spending more time at home.

This also meant the unfortunate postponement of the much-anticipated Minecraft Festival. Even then, Mojang Studios smoothly pivoted to the online-only Minecraft Live event that was engaging, professional, and provided Minecraft players with tons of new information about everything Minecraft.

It's clearer now than ever before that Minecraft is more than just a video game.

Because of this, however, more people than ever are playing games, spending on games, and enjoying game time with friends and families. From the runaway success of games like Among Us to the continued shortages of next-gen consoles like the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S (if you're still looking for your own, here's where to buy the Xbox Series X|S), and everything in between, people are going online to play; Minecraft has had to grow to encompass the millions of new gamers out there. I can attest to their success since my significant other and I built a literal pet cemetery in Minecraft earlier this year.

Minecraft's overbearing success through strife in 2020 hasn't just been about Mojang Studios' efforts, either. People are finding creative ways to use Minecraft for more than just casual fun, and some of my favorite moments from the past year have been seeing all the things Minecraft players are accomplishing.

2020 is drawing to a close, and Minecraft has been there every step of the way to provide an outlet for people seeking it. But Minecraft has also been an active tool used by communities, organizations, and more to improve the world around them. Just like Minecraft translates to schools and facilities as an educational tool, it's clearer now than ever before that Minecraft is more than just a video game.

Looking ahead to 2021

Minecraft Caves And Cliffs Update Cave Generation

Source: Mojang Studios (Image credit: Source: Mojang Studios)

The holidays have started for everyone, and before we know it, this year will be in the rearview mirror, and we'll be on to what comes in 2021. Mojang Studios has already been thinking about that, with the announcement of the Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft, rivaled in size only by the Nether Update released earlier this year. Minecraft Dungeons is planning a total of three new expansions for 2021, included in a new Season Pass, for $20 at Microsoft, alongside the Howling Peaks DLC.

New updates, higher goals, and more extraordinary accomplishments all await Minecraft in 2021. Despite being positively ancient in the video games world, Minecraft keeps getting stronger, not weaker, and people who have never played video games before are still drawn to Minecraft. It's clear, looking at our list of Best Minecraft Merch, Gifts, and Collectibles that Minecraft is a lot more than a video game at this point, and the power of its name isn't degrading as we head into a new year.

I, for one, am very excited to see how Minecraft surprises and delights in the new year and how it seeks to once again best itself compared to one of the most successful years Minecraft has ever had.



Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.