Minecraft is making a major push for cross-platform play, unifying the experience so that all users can collaborate and create regardless of the device they're using.
The "Better Together" update was announced at last night's Xbox E3 press conference, but it was arguably given less emphasis than the importance of the news genuinely merits. In a post on the Minecraft website, Mojang said that cross-platform integration has been a longstanding goal - "essentially making a version of Minecraft that's consistent no matter what device you're choosing to play on."
From now on, the only version of the game that will have a subtitle is the original PC version, which will now be called "Minecraft: Java Edition." The Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, mobile and VR versions - all of which have a C++ codebase - will simply be called "Minecraft." The Xbox 360 and Wii U versions are not part of the unification, but they will continue to be supported.
"Anyone playing the game on Windows 10, iOS, Android, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and VR devices will be able to play online together," Mojang said. "If you own Minecraft for your mobile or VR device, you'll get this as a free update this summer. If you own Minecraft: Xbox One Edition or Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition, you'll receive the brand new version of Minecraft for free, and your existing worlds and DLC will come along to the new version with you."
All DLC purchased in one version of the game will be available across all devices at no extra cost. This is consistent with the Xbox Play Anywhere strategy that Microsoft announced at E3 last year, which allows players to use their games on either Windows or Xbox with a single purchase.
Over on Time, executive producer Jesse Merriam described a key benefit of the unification of Minecraft for console players. Previously, she said, the console versions' worlds were limited to a maximum of 5,120 by 5.120 blocks; after the switch, that upper limit will disappear. "Really what we're talking about today is Minecraft becoming endless," Merriam added.
The one platform absent from the Better Together plan at present is PlayStation, with both the PS3 and PS4 conspicuously absent amidst all the talk of seamless cross-platform integration. According to Time, Microsoft deflected questions on those plans to Sony, while stating that, "our goal is always to bring every Minecraft player together."
"Today we can confirm Nintendo Switch and Xbox One support, but our vision is really to get everyone together," Merriam said.