Minecraft: Pocket Edition came out five years ago, but it is actually only about to turn 1.0.
Mojang is preparing to roll out the Ender Update to Pocket Edition, which will finally complete the full-game loop that players on PC and console have had for years now. This 1.0 patch will essentially make Pocket Edition equivalent to the 1.0 version of the original Java version of Minecraft for the PC, but it will also introduce new features, such as support for Oculus’s VR Touch controllers on the Windows 10 offshoot of Pocket Edition. But with this update coming nearly a half decade after the introduction of Minecraft for iOS and Android, the team at Mojang can’t help but look back at the path that led up to this point for the popular block-builiding game that is one of the best-selling premium priced apps on mobile devices with over 40 million copies sold across iOS and Android. That’s an enormous chunk of the more than 100 million copies sold for Microsoft’s franchise.
“We are feeling rather nostalgic on the Minecraft team these days because November marked just about the five-year anniversary of Minecraft: Pocket Edition,” Minecraft: Pocket Edition producer Emily Orrson wrote in a blog post. “It was fall five years ago when the team first began rolling out Pocket Edition on Android and iOS — beginning with Sony’s Xperia Play. Since then, Pocket Edition has expanded to run on Kindle devices, Fire TV, GearVR, and Windows Phone.”
Today, Minecraft: Pocket Edition has more than 40 million players, and it works on Oculus Rift and Windows 10. The studio has added features from the PC game, such as redstone, witches, and pig riding.
But this version of the game was not always so full of features.
“Once upon a time, Minecraft: Pocket Edition had no clouds and no sun,” wrote Orrson. “It had no slimes and no melons. You may find this hard to believe, pocket crafters of the past year. But at the beginning, Pocket Edition had the most basic of gameplay features, forged by a single coder named Aron, who spun up the first build in less than three months for an E3 demo in 2011.”
I can confirm this. Back at the start of this decade, Minecraft: Pocket Edition was a shell of the PC version. It really only featured collecting resources, crafting objects, and a few creepers — that was it. I distinctly remember Minecraft creator Notch complaining publicly on Twitter about the Android version of the game before realizing that he had the power to fix it himself.
Over the years, Mojang infused improvements into Pocket Edition. Most notably, the studio gave it a new interface and rewrote the code to help it run better on mobile devices.
And now, Minecraft: Pocket Edition is finally getting its 1.0 Ender update. In addition to Oculus Touch support for the Windows 10 variation, players can expect to come across the Ender Dragon, polar bears, and the game’s original soundtrack (which has never been in the mobile game).
That closes the circle on Pocket Edition from that debut in 2011, but Mojang and publisher Microsoft are not done. It’s likely that the studio will return in another five years to look back once again on a decade of developing for one of the most passionate communities in gaming.