The Pandemic and Minecraft’s Rise in Popularity

Jasmine Flanders
May 19, 2021

In 2019, Minecraft, the video game that allows one to explore and create within a boundless online world, had 91 million active monthly users and revenue of $375 million. By the end of 2020, the video game had 131 million active monthly users and $415 million in revenue. What caused this marked increase in Minecraft users?

The pandemic and lockdown provided people with too much free time on their hands, and after finding themselves unable to host social gatherings, many turned to Minecraft. For example, some took to the Minecraft Marketplace to download the “Graduation Celebration” world, which allowed them to simulate walking across the stage during graduation. Many also used Minecraft to connect with friends and hold social gatherings to enjoy building creatively together. Longtime Minecraft users took the lockdown as an opportunity to go back to playing a game that used to bring them much joy. 

This rise in popularity could also be attributed to Minecraft’s stream of new features, such as the “Caves and Cliffs” update, which made the game more aesthetically pleasing and allowed players to be more inventive. In addition, “Steve,” the main Minecraft avatar, was recently added as a playable character in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, causing a cadre of new Minecraft players. Lastly, a large contributor to Minecraft’s new success is social media. The video game is often a trending topic of discussion on apps such as TikTok, bringing new players interested in seeing why the game is so popular. 

Many have also found entertainment in watching users play the game. Twitch and YouTube, two platforms where some users live stream their Minecraft adventures, also saw an increase in the game’s popularity and users. On Twitch in January, 2019, users watched around 10 million hours of Minecraft; in January, 2021, users watched around 80 million hours. Minecraft-focused YouTubers such as “Dream,” “GeorgeNotFound,” “Technoblade,” “TommyInnit,” and more grew rapidly in popularity during the pandemic. “Dream” went from 1 million subscribers to 15 million in one year, and he recently hit 20 million subscribers. 

COVID-19 brought Minecraft, first published in 2009, back to popularity. People found forms of social connectivity, creativity, expression, and entertainment in the game. The free time that the lockdown provided led people to revisit their past and return to a memorable part of their childhood.

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