It’s been around for 10 years, but Minecraft is STILL one of the most played games in the world, attracting a whopping 91 million players a month. Here’s why kids are hooked …
1. They want to play with friends
While Minecraft is consistently popular with a few of our Trendspotter girls (part of our UK-wide panel aged 9-12), we’ve noticed a surge in mentions in recent weeks from the boys, too. The lack of enthusiasm for Fortnite’s latest Season 9 (find out more by signing up to our fortnightly trend report, see below) plus Minecraft’s exciting new update Village and Pillage (see below) has sparked more interest in the game. And with end of term approaching we see a creative and social surge for kids, making Minecraft a go-to game. Peer recommendations are key: when one friend starts playing, others join in.
‘I’ve been doing Minecraft – only cos my friends wanted to but actually it’s pretty fun.’ Theo
2. They love to create and learn
Dubbed ‘virtual Lego’, Minecraft enjoys the same appeal as the brick giant, with endless opportunities for users to dig/mine and build/craft 3D blocks in various worlds and different terrains, learning skills along the way such as reasoning, problem-solving, and collaboration. There is a variable gameplay element, with modes including Survival (gathering resources, building your base etc), and Creative (constructing and destroying structures). Kids can even rediscover their creations months later.
‘I built a huge hospital – it took forever. And I made a diner based on the one from Riverdale. I even called it Pop’s.’ Asena
‘I logged in to Minecraft and found the little worlds I used to make.’ Finlay
3. They’re compelled to collect ‘stuff’
Whether it’s Match Attax cards, Harry Potter book sets or Pop Vinyl figures, kids love to collect things, which helps them build a sense of identity. This collector instinct translates to the digital landscape, with games like Minecraft enabling kids to amass materials from blocks and logs to food, tools, weapons and animals.
4. They can play Minecraft anytime, anywhere
As we’ve seen from the Fortnite explosion over the past year, multi-platform accessibility keeps a game thriving and Minecraft can be played across consoles and on iOS, and Android. It’s also the ease of play that’s key to Minecraft’s success, as this makes kids more likely to use it. And the more kids play, the better they get which feeds their sense of achievement at mastering the game: important both to themselves and to show their peers.
5. They ‘re driven by vloggers
YouTubers who play Minecraft are inspirational for kids, giving them hacks, tips and ideas and driving interest to the game. These include Stacyplays, who was part of Minecraft’s real-life eco preservation project (see below). At the other end of the subscriber scale is Dan Lags, who has just thousands of fans as opposed to the millions of many of his gaming counterparts. But kids gravitate towards niche YouTubers – recommended by the platform or via friends – because they tailor content towards their particular interests.
‘I found Dan Lags because I'm liking Minecraft – his house is really big and really cool. I love that you can build houses and cities and shops.’ Lily
‘Stacyplays has been on a dog rescue mission in her dogcart series. She builds nether tunnels to reach different biomes to find dogs.’ Asena
6. Updates generate a buzz
Minecraft’s latest updates have created new hype around the game. April’s Village and Pillage came with new challenges in the form of ravage beasts; last year’s Update Aquatic brought exciting oceans of tropical fish and shipwrecks.
Now owners Mircosoft and Mojang have upped the Minecraft ante with news of the latest AR launch (expected by end of August): Minecraft Earth. Free to play on iOS and Android, users can build and explore in the real world, creating and sharing their designs with friends. Lauded as being bigger than Pokemon Go, game director Torfi Olafsson explained in The Verge. ‘Every lake is a place you can fish, every park is a place you can chop down trees. We've actually taken maps of the entire world and converted them to Minecraft.’
7. They identify with Minecraft’s values
Kids are environmentally savvy with a clear awareness of global issues and challenges. As they grow up, this demographic is increasingly looking to brands with genuine eco values (see our Generation Alpha report to find out more), and Minecraft fits the bill.
For World Ocean Day last year, as part of the Aquatic update, players completed a challenge to place ten million coral blocks underwater. The goal was achieved in a few days and Mojang donated to The Nature Conservatory to save and rebuild coral reefs around the world. The company also partnered with three of its biggest YouTubers – Rabahrex, Logdotzip, and StacyPlays – to design real-life structures that would help rebuild reefs.
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Beano for Brands is a kid-first consultancy and agency for brands seeking to connect with a new generation who are already rewriting the rules of engagement, creativity and even the world around them.
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