Minecraft has received praise from critics, and won numerous awards and accolades. As of February 2017, over 121 million copies have been sold across all platforms, making it the second best-selling video game of all time, only behind the various releases of Tetris. In September 2014, Microsoft announced a deal to buy Mojang and the Minecraft intellectual property for US$2.5 billion, with the acquisition being completed two months later.
Minecraft is a three-dimensional sandbox game that has no specific goals for the player to accomplish, allowing players a great amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game. However, there is an achievement system. Gameplay by default is first person, but players have the option to play in third person mode. The core gameplay revolves around breaking and placing blocks. The game world is composed of rough 3D objectsmainly cubesarranged in a fixed grid pattern and representing different materials, such as dirt, stone, various ores, water, lava, tree trunks, etc. While players can move freely across the world, objects can only be placed at fixed locations on the grid. Players can gather these material blocks and place them elsewhere, thus allowing for various constructions.
At the start of the game, the player is placed on the surface of a procedurally generated and virtually infinite game world. The world is divided into biomes ranging from deserts to jungles to snowfields. Players can walk across the terrain consisting of plains, mountains, forests, caves, and various water bodies. The in-game time system follows a day and night cycle, with one full cycle lasting 20 real-time minutes. Throughout the course of the game, players encounter various non-player characters known as mobs, including animals, villagers and hostile creatures. Non-hostile animalssuch as cows, pigs, and chickenscan be hunted for food and crafting materials, and spawn in the daytime. By contrast, hostile mobssuch as large spiders, skeletons, and zombiesspawn during nighttime or in dark places, such as caves. Some Minecraft-unique creatures have been noted by reviewers, such as the Creeper, an exploding creature that sneaks up on the player; and the Enderman, a creature with the ability to teleport and pick up blocks.
The game world is procedurally generated as players explore it, using a map seed which is obtained from the system clock at the time of world creation unless manually specified by the player. Although there are limits on movement up and down, Minecraft allows for an infinitely large game world to be generated on the horizontal plane, only running into technical problems when extremely distant locations are reached. The game achieves this by splitting the game world data into smaller sections called "chunks", which are only created or loaded into memory when players are nearby.
The game's physics system has often been described by commentators as unrealistic. Most solid blocks are not affected by gravity. Liquids flow from a source block, which can be removed by placing a solid block in its place, or by scooping it into a bucket. Complex systems can be built using primitive mechanical devices, electrical circuits, and logic gates built with an in-game material known as redstone.
Minecraft features two alternate dimensions besides the main worldthe Nether and the End. The Nether is a hell-like dimension accessed via player-built portals that contains many unique resources and can be used to travel great distances in the overworld. The End is a barren land in which a boss dragon called the Ender Dragon dwells. Killing the dragon cues the game's ending credits, written by Irish author Julian Gough. Players are then allowed to teleport back to their original spawn point in the overworld. There is also a second boss called "The Wither", which upon defeat drops a specific material needed to build a placeable beacon that can enhance certain abilities of all nearby players.
The game primarily consists of four game modes: survival, creative, adventure, and spectator. It also has a changeable difficulty system of four levels; the easiest difficulty (peaceful) prevents hostile creatures from spawning.