May 9th, 2012 marks the release of Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition which started the legion of ports to every conceivable console that could handle the game. These humble beginnings were far before Microsoft owned the property and it cannot be understated how much of an impact that porting the PC-exclusive game to consoles had at the time.
Porting Minecraft was no easy feat (as we’ve seen with the mess that Bedrock Edition had been on Switch and Xbox for a while after release) so 4J Studios were tasked with this monumental undertaking. Having experience with porting other titles such as Banjo Kazooie and the critically acclaimed console port of Oblivion they proved themselves to be worthy of the task and released an incredibly stable port of the game that always aimed to run at 60fps whilst taking some creative liberties with how the game performed. The oldest versions of console edition have a very limited world size, roughly 800×800 blocks, as opposed to the PC’s infinite worlds and had a mob cap which limited the number of monsters, animals and entities in the world to save on resources and allowed the game to consistently maintain a stable frame rate and rarely crashed when stress testing it with lots of events (TNT explosions being extremely notable crash causers on PC).
Xbox 360 Edition was a massive success, racking up over 20 million in sales, and notably was one of the longest update cycles of any Xbox or PS3 game receiving constant updates from 2012 until its demise in 2018 with the Update Aquatic (which still runs extremely well at a consistent frame rate). This success also applies to all of its ports, it was released on PS3 next with PS4, PSVita (yes, some 4J wizardry even got a working version on PSVita that was updated until 2018 too) and Xbox One offering free next-gen upgrades for a limited time and fully transferrable worlds between PS3 and Vita to take your world on the go with you. Coming a little later to the party after years of speculation came the WiiU Edition and even a short-lived Nintendo Switch Edition before ultimately being phased out.
It’s hard to fully quantify the immense impact Minecraft Console Edition had on the gaming space as a whole, let alone the Minecraft community. It had a massive dedicated player base and its own niche of YouTube content creators, completely distinct from the PC personalities that took over the site in the early 2010s before Microsoft ultimately pulled the plug for a port of its mobile engine that had its own benefits and caveats. Minecraft Console Edition was ultimately discontinued for good in December 2019 when the PlayStation 4 Edition finally had the upgrade to the Bedrock Edition but notably was the only version to receive the ‘Village and Pillage’ update.
Personally, I started playing Minecraft PS3 Edition in 2013 and continued to play that version until I made the switch to PS4 Edition in 2016. I also played a lot of the PSVita Edition and generally loved the restrictions the game imposed on the player. As Orsen Welles once said: “the enemy of creativity is the absence of limitations”. Having a world of limited size meant that you needed to take careful consideration of your resources and the placement of builds and farms to get the most of out the space which is something infinite worlds cannot replicate. I loved following the update cycle, looking for hints in 4J Studios’ tweets, trying to find secret features in the new updates, and hunting for the new trophies and bizarre seeds.
The magic 4J managed to create on limited hardware was phenomenal and 10 years of this amazing endeavour should definitely be celebrated, regardless of how much Microsoft would rather us forget that version ever existed. Thank you 4J for all your hard work, here’s hoping that Bedrock Edition will finally have full parity with this version!
Video game completionist and 3D platformer connoisseur, Riley is a fan of the whimsical frenzy of bright and colourful characters to bless us in the late 90's. Their favourite game's are Spyro, Persona 5 and Super Mario Sunshine.