Once a game that dares to do something different is a success, it begins a steamroll effect. Think of a title like Minecraft as one of those katamari from Katamari Damacy . It starts small, with one indie game. It grows until everyone’s heard its name. Suddenly, all you see are games like it. The thing is, there’s often a point reached where the games that were jumping on the bandwagon suddenly begin to be better than the source material.
This is exactly what’s happening with Minecraft . A number of games people could consider usurpers are vying for the throne. Since the launch of its 2009 alpha, similar games have stepped up as a means of saying, “OK, an open world, building game with crafting. Let’s see what we can do with this formula.” It’s taking the very foundations of Minecraft , which are admittedly rudimentary and basic, and adding other elements to improve the experience.
With Minecraft , each competitor has brought up ideas and concepts that make you wonder, why didn’t the original game do that? Terraria is a 2D take on the game, with capture the flag modes, NPCs that can move into your base, and some online options like a capture the gem mode. Lego Worlds actually uses Legos, bringing in all the creativity that comes with a known property. Ace of Spades may make you want to throw shade, since it’s a voxel building game that looks so similar, but its inclusion of shooter elements and environmental destruction quickly shuts down anyone who may think it looks too similar. Even Roblox , which was a successful MMO on its own before Minecraft ever existed, has sampled some elements as it has grown. Starbound is sampling from both Terraria and Minecraft to make a rich, huge, outer space adventure with hundreds of planets to explore. Square Enix’s Dragon Quest Builders adds more RPG trappings and iconic characters to the equation.
Such progression is only natural, after all. Developers are building on what has become a formula. Outside influences have increased creativity, resulting in bigger and better developments and things. Mojang is so focused on the creative and survival elements, that of course it couldn’t see how well shooting elements, like in Ace of Spades , could have worked. Since NPCs work differently there, they couldn’t conceive of a world where the player is the star, as in Terraria .
Besides, Minecraft is a clone of its own. Dwarf Fortress has been doing the whole construction and management thing in a procedurally generated world since 2006. Infiniminer , by Zachary Barth, had the idea for mining before Minecraft , with Mojang actually noting it as an inspiration. It credits its existence for acting as an improved clone of other games. It only makes sense than its clones now would start to do things and overtake Minecraft .
It’s a world where the fittest survive. Everything is always expanding and growing. All games can call back to or cite others for inspiration. It’s inevitable that a point would be reached where one clearly wins and stands apart from the others. With Minecraft , it feels like a day is fast approaching where its true successor will be named.