Mojang Studios is a renowned team of talented individuals, and is responsible for bringing to life one of the most popular and influential video games of all time: Minecraft. Rather than rest on its laurels since Minecraft's conception in 2009, the studio has constantly iterated upon and improved their survival sandbox masterpiece with an endless stream of updates, eventually cultivating in the partially released Caves and Cliffs Update.
While Minecraft continues to grow in every direction, the wider Minecraft universe also continues to expand rapidly. Mojang has already released new titles within the Minecraft franchise, and there's a very real possibility that brand-new projects are in the works. The studio regularly posts tantalizing Minecraft concept art on its social media pages, leading us to speculate on what exactly Mojang could be cooking up behind the scenes.
What's next for Minecraft, one of the greatest games of all time?
The Minecraft universe is expanding
Minecraft, almost in stark contrast to its accessible gameplay and gentle "voxel-style" visuals, is an indomitable behemoth in the video games industry, with over 238 million copies sold across practically every modern gaming platform imaginable. Such overwhelming sales statistics are backed by Minecraft's impressive retention, which often sees well over a 100 million players play the game every month. Minecraft is a well-known brand even amongst people who don't play video games, and has since spawned an ocean of licensed toys and gifts.
With this impressive resume of accomplishments behind Minecraft, it would be understandable if Mojang Studios had no desire to experiment with new ideas and directions. And yet, Minecraft Dungeons was released as a fantastically crafted extension of the Minecraft universe and franchise into an all-new genre: action RPGs. Despite its massively different gameplay mechanics, Minecraft Dungeons hit well over 10 million players before its arrival on Steam earlier this year. Minecraft Dungeons brought new lore and depth to the Minecraft universe without sacrificing its unassailable predecessor's accessibility and platform agnosticism.
Minecraft is a well-known brand even amongst people who don't play video games.
Even Minecraft Earth is worth mentioning. Despite Minecraft Earth's failure to bring Minecraft into the real world, the much-maligned mobile AR game was another example of Mojang's blatant willingness to tackle "Minecraft" in wildly new ways. It could have succeeded if not for an unfortunate series of missteps and terrible decisions.
It's clear that Mojang Studios isn't going to stop at one, or even two of the best games on Xbox or any other modern gaming platform. When "Mojang" became "Mojang Studios," signifying a shift for the studio as they moved into new offices all over the world, it was teased that at least two new games were in the works. We have reason to believe these projects are real, but we genuinely have no concrete evidence pertaining to what they could be.
The possibilities are endless
The above images are various pixel art images shared by Mojang Studios themselves through its social media, mostly Instagram. No, they are not announcements of real products, nor are they necessarily indicative of whatever Mojang is developing. Still, it does highlight how appealing a new game from the legendary team could be. Without concrete information, discussing the various possibilities is purely speculative, but it's still interesting to dive into the endless directions Mojang could take the Minecraft brand, or even entertain the possibility that Mojang's next game could leave behind Minecraft entirely.
The below ideas are a combination of interests and curiosities propositioned by myself or my teammates. The reality could be somewhere among these entries or in another universe altogether.
One of the most obvious paths Mojang could take with a new Minecraft game is the quietly popular "life simulation" genre, which is dominated by gaming greats like Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, as well as indie gems like Ooblets.
As the name implies, life simulation games encourage players to slow down and create a new life for themselves, either through farming, hunting, fishing, and other resource gathering mechanics, developing relationships and connections with various NPCs, exploring the world and making new discoveries, building a home or base to live in, and more.
All of these mechanics and more could be a wonderful fit with the Minecraft universe, especially since the original already features many of these elements (albeit framed in a survival context). I think it'd be great to take control of a "retired adventurer" or something along those lines, who moves into a charismatic and bustling Minecraft village to carve out a gentler slice of life for themselves. A Minecraft life simulation game could prove to be even more addictive than the original, if done properly and filled with an abundance of detail and charm.
Mojang has already dipped their toes into the terrifyingly expansive "RPG" genre with Minecraft Dungeons, an action RPG that takes after titles like Diablo 2: Resurrected, in which players participate in wave after wave of intense isometric combat to earn powerful new gear and progress through a dramatic fantasy story.
However, there are other RPG ideas that on which Mojang could capitalize. A Pokémon-esque RPG that features all of Minecraft's diverse life (and the many variants that were created for Minecraft Earth and are no longer being used) could be a lot of fun, as well as a more in-depth first-person or third-person RPG that tackles a wider open-world and deeper story than Minecraft Dungeons.
RPGs are absolutely massive, and there are so many things Mojang could do in this genre that would match the Minecraft universe. Of course, RPGs are also a ton of work to piece together, which is something Mojang may shy away from for an experimental offshoot of Minecraft.
Minecraft has established that it has an increasingly lore-filled universe, with a wide variety of mobs to pull from and an appealing art style that works in multiple genres. Taking all of that, Mojang could create a real-time strategy set in the Minecraft world. Players will have to expertly navigate around armies of enemy mobs to survive or create their own impenetrable territories that can withstand assault from any outside threat.
The RTS genre is an intimidating space filled with many excellent and wildly diverse titles, and there's plenty of room for Mojang to craft its own special blend using all of the pieces they've already shown that they have. Mojang has also proven that it's great at thinking about the details and how obscure pieces might interact, a skill vital to crafting an intelligent real-time strategy title.
Real-time strategies have a lot of moving pieces and deep systems, however, which may trip up a team that isn't used to developing those kinds of games. If Mojang chose to move in this direction, it would have to take special care to develop a game that can compare to the best in the genre.
Many Minecraft players may not be aware of this, but a very prevalent sub-group within Minecraft adores parkour and platforming. Entire maps are designed solely as intense and precise obstacle courses, which require skill and finesse to traverse in one piece. Minecraft's creative tools and freedom enables players to pursue this, but there's also merit to Mojang taking this idea and turning it into a full-fledged game.
An action platformer, likely a 2.5D side-scroller, could take the foundations that are already present in Minecraft but tighten the controls and make the movement more fluid, add more attuned combat mechanics, and introduce a fresh story in the Minecraft universe that takes players on an adventure through many biomes and environments. The, ahem, building blocks are already there.
Being tasked with navigating a perilous world while combatting mobs, using limited digging or mining tools to carve out new paths, and otherwise testing your reflexes and platforming skills to the max, could be an exciting addition to the Minecraft universe. Mojang would have to nail the visuals and environmental details here, though, making something closer to Minecraft Dungeons than regular Minecraft. It's also essential that movement feels "just right," a detail that many action platformers have just missed in the past.
People have spent thousands of hours building in Minecraft, creating lavish and intricately detailed cities, sculptures, machines, and practically everything you can imagine. So, what if Mojang took this idea to a broader scale and created a Minecraft-themed city builder? Designing and expanding a living, breathing Minecraft city sounds oddly enticing, especially in the classic "voxel" style Minecraft popularized.
Even better, a Minecraft city builder could potentially let you import builds and structures from vanilla Minecraft, letting you design all of your buildings "Spore style," giving your city unique character. Players already devote a ton of time to building stationary cities that are splendid in their scale but ultimately feel frozen in time.
With a city builder game in the vein of Cities: Skylines, players could build their perfect city and actually watch it evolve on their own, with a functioning economy, tourism, natural world events and disasters, and much more. Also, why does it sound so fun to design your own redstone-based utility grid?
A brand-new IP
For most of this article, we've worked under the assumption that any future game from Mojang Studios would indubitably fall under the Minecraft umbrella. While this is a perfectly reasonable assumption to come to, there's always the possibility that Mojang may decide to leave behind the Minecraft universe and create an entirely new game or IP.
The Minecraft brand is surprisingly flexible and is able to adapt, at least in theory, to a vast variety of genres and categories. If Mojang decides to direct its extremely talented and versatile developers to work on an all-new idea not based on Minecraft, however, the possibilities are absolutely endless.
A non-Minecraft came coming from Mojang sounds almost alien in nature. However, the undeniable success of Minecraft and Minecraft Dungeons, combined with Mojang's comfortable security resting under Microsoft's wings, means it has an opportunity to experiment with wild ideas and projects. Many players may be hesitant to be excited about a new game from Mojang that isn't, you know, the thing that everyone knows Mojang for, but the potential exists.
Waiting for the reveal
At the end of the day, all of this is pure speculation. Mojang Studios is almost certainly working on something that we don't know about, but we won't know what it is until it becomes reality. Many games and experiments fall apart in early development and never see the light of the day, so there's a chance that Mojang will abandon whatever they could be tinkering with in the background.
We can speculate all we want, but only Mojang has the power to confirm or deny.
Still, there's an equal chance we will see a new game from Mojang in the not-so-distant future, which potentially gives players something for which to be excited. We can postulate all we want, but only Mojang Studios can dispel the conjectures by confirming or denying the existence of a new game. We can't say when (if) that may happen, but we can take a good guess at the most plausible place.
Mojang is hosting Minecraft Live 2021 on Oct. 16, 2021, where it'll share news and announcements on all the biggest developments in the Minecraft universe. We'll likely see more of the Caves and Cliffs Update for Minecraft, whatever is next for Minecraft Dungeons, and more. If Mojang has something it's confident in showing off, Minecraft Live is an appropriate platform to do it.
We won't hold our breath for a brand-new game from Mojang Studios while watching Minecraft Live 2021, but we'll still fantasize about all the possibilities that Minecraft (and beyond) holds when in this studio's hands.
The original masterpiece
The beginning of greatness
Minecraft is an inarguable and complete success. It has sold copies in the hundreds of millions, has a huge following of dedicated players, and lets you unlock your every creative desire. It's the foundation upon which Mojang Studios is built, and will undoubtedly inspire any future games it makes.
The start of something new
Minecraft Dungeons Ultimate Edition
Greatness strikes twice
Minecraft Dungeons has released a ridiculous amount of content since its launch, and now players can gain access to it all in one fell swoop with Minecraft Dungeons Ultimate Edition, a value-driven bundle that includes the base game and all six released DLCs. Minecraft Dungeons is the first proper expansion for the Minecraft universe, and it may not be the last.
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