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Minecraft’s 15th Anniversary: The Sandbox Builder on Live-Streaming Platforms

Minecraft marked the rise to dominance of the sandbox game. As an indie darling turned global phenomenon, the explorative crafting simulator ignited players’ imaginations when it first released back in 2009. 15 years on, Minecraft continues to innovate, expanding its universe into other genres and other platforms.

Minecraft thrives because of its community, with players finding new ways to exploit the game’s elegantly simple crafting system. From fantasy-inspired cities to landscapes derived from famous paintings, there’s been no end to the creativity on display. It’s no surprise, then, that Minecraft adapted well to the emergence of live-streaming platforms. Live streaming is all about a shared love of games, exchanging ideas and opinions in real time. For this purpose, Minecraft has no equal.

With the 15th anniversary of Minecraft this month, it’s worth looking at how it can recover on live streaming and which creators are making Minecraft content in 2024.

Minecraft’s Popularity on Live-Streaming Platforms Is Still Growing After 15 Years

Although esports and IRL streaming have long dominated live-streaming platforms, Minecraft has made its mark in more recent years. As of May 2024, Minecraft has accumulated 4.7B hours watched since Stream Hatchet began tracking the game back in 2016. Its most rapid growth came on the heels of the COVID pandemic, much like many other games. Between Q3 and Q4 of 2020, Minecraft gained over 350M hours watched. But while other games’ popularity died off post-pandemic, Minecraft continues to enchant viewers, seeing continued demand.

Of course, this just covers the original Minecraft game. As the franchise has expanded, dungeon-crawler Minecraft Dungeons and action-strategy game Minecraft Legends have been released, though neither performed nearly as well on streaming as their originator. A slew of updates and expansions to the base game have kept players busy, (a brilliant timeline of which has been released on the official Minecraft site for the 15th anniversary). In this way, Minecraft keeps its gameplay fresh and versatile.

Minecraft’s Top Streamers Come From Around the Globe

Minecraft has a global appeal, using its charming block-based visuals to transcend the bounds of culturally-embedded tastes. The top streamers feature English, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, and German-speaking creators, all dedicating vast quantities of their content to Minecraft alone. Plenty of famous names from other live-streaming spheres appear in the top streamers list for the past year, such as xQc with 19.5M hours watched and auronplay with 15.3M hours watched.

Surprisingly, Minecraft is incredibly popular in the Korean streaming community, joining the likes of League of Legends, Black Desert, and Lost Ark. In the past year, the top Minecraft streamer is 항상#킴성태 (Kim Seong-tae), an AfreecaTV streamer with 25M hours watched. Aside from him, four of the other top 20 Minecraft streamers are Korean-speaking, explaining the game’s popularity on Chzzk.

Minecraft Reaching Out on Twitch During its Anniversary

Of course, whilst live streaming is the focus of this analysis, it’s worth mentioning that YouTube features whole channels with millions of subscribers devoted to Minecraft content, from building to modding to role-playing. Among these, Dream and DanTDM stand out as just two examples of YouTubers with more subscribers than the official Minecraft channel itself (with 31.8M and 28.6M subscribers, respectively).

But Microsoft is intent on pushing Minecraft on live-streaming platforms as well. For the 15th anniversary, a range of events are being held on Twitch including a special Minecraft shelf on the Twitch homepage, collaborations with popular Minecraft creators on the official Minecraft channel, and a Twitch Drops campaign with in-game rewards such as a Glitch Mask and Purple Heart Cape on offer. 

Live streaming offers a dynamic way of interacting with fans – a crucial ingredient for an imagination-driven game like Minecraft. As the options for sandbox-style games proliferate with developing technologies, Minecraft needs more than just its legacy to continue performing in the live-streaming arena. Stream Hatchet will be monitoring as the game continues to redefine itself in the coming years.

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