Minecraft is a sandbox indie game originally created by Swedish programmer Markus "Notch" Persson and later developed and published by Mojang. It was publicly released for the PC on May 17, 2009, as a developmental alpha version and, after gradual updates, was published as a full release version on November 18, 2011. A version for Android was released a month earlier on October 7, and an iOS version was released on November 17, 2011. On May 9, 2012, the game was released on Xbox 360 as an Xbox Live Arcade game, co-developed by 4J Studios. All versions of Minecraft receive periodic updates.
The creative and building aspects of Minecraft allow players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, gathering resources, crafting, and combat. Gameplay in its commercial release has two principal modes: survival, which requires players to acquire resources and maintain their health and hunger; and creative, where players have an unlimited supply of resources, the ability to fly, and no health or hunger. A third gameplay mode named hardcore is the same as survival, differing only in difficulty; it is set to hardest setting and respawning is disabled, forcing players to delete their worlds upon death.
Minecraft received five awards from the 2011 Game Developers Conference: it was awarded the Innovation Award, Best Downloadable Game Award, and the Best Debut Game Award from the Game Developers Choice Awards; and the Audience Award, as well as the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, from the Independent Games Festival in 2011. In 2012, Minecraft was awarded a Golden Joystick Award in the category Best Downloadable Game. As of April 8, 2013, the game has sold over 10 million copies on PC and as of January 22, 2013, over 20 million copies across all platforms.
Minecraft is an open world game that has no specific goals for the player to accomplish, allowing players a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game. However, there is an optional achievement system. The gameplay by default is first person, but players have the option to play in third person mode. The core gameplay revolves around breaking and placing blocks. The game world is essentially composed of rough 3D objects—mainly cubes—that are arranged in a fixed grid pattern and represent different materials, such as dirt, stone, various ores, water, and tree trunks. While players can move freely across the world, objects and items can only be placed at fixed locations relative to the grid. Players can gather these material blocks and place them elsewhere, thus allowing for various constructions.
At the start of the game, the player is placed on the surface of a procedurally generated and virtually infinite game world. Players can walk across the terrain consisting of plains, mountains, forests, caves, and various water bodies. The world is divided into biomes ranging from deserts to jungles to snowfields. The in-game time system follows a day and night cycle, with one full cycle lasting 20 real time minutes. Throughout the course of the game, players encounter various non-player characters known as mobs, including animals, villagers and hostile creatures. During the daytime, non-hostile animals, such as cows, pigs, and chickens, spawn. They may be hunted for food and crafting materials. During nighttime and in dark areas, hostile mobs, such as large spiders, skeletons, and zombies, spawn. Some Minecraft-unique creatures have been noted by reviewers, such as the Creeper, an exploding creature that sneaks up on the player, and the Enderman, a creature with the ability to teleport and pick up blocks.
The game world is procedurally generated as players explore it, using a seed which is obtained from the system clock at the time of world creation unless manually specified by the player.