Minecraft was acquired by Microsoft about 7 years ago, but 2021 is the year where Minecraft is finally switching to Microsoft’s account system and an updated launcher that will leave out players who have gotten the Java version to work on the Raspberry Pi platform in the transition.
There is a free version of Minecraft for the Raspberry Pi called Minecraft: Pi Edition and while that version is in some ways more accessible to modifications the Pi Edition isn’t compatible with Minecraft Java or Minecraft Bedrock worlds and servers. Minecraft: Pi Edition can’t even run in fullscreen and hasn’t received updates since 2016.
Because Minecraft Java can run on any platform that can handle Java, users of the Raspberry Pi have been able to run it in the past as long as they had Minecraft Java claimed on their Mojang account.
Players have also noticed that any new Minecraft Java purchasers today get Microsoft accounts to log into the Minecraft website instead of Mojang accounts. All Mojang accounts will also be forced to switch to Microsoft accounts that don’t work with the old Java system and only work in Mojang’s new launcher that uses the Microsoft login system. The newest Minecraft launcher is a native app on Linux, macOS, and Windows that isn’t cross-platform.
Not everybody can afford hundreds of dollars to purchase a gaming computer in 2021, but it doesn’t take a lot to run Minecraft Java, and the low-cost Raspberry Pi 3 and 4 have been powerful enough to unofficially run Minecraft Java for a long time now. Unfortunately those users will be locked out of the platform unless players can convince Microsoft and Mojang to bring the new launcher to the Raspberry Pi or developers with projects like the alternative launcher project MultiMC can figure out a workaround. There is one other possibility, x86 emulation on the ARM-based Raspberry Pi might get fast enough to run the official Java editions of Minecraft and their Microsoft-account-supporting launcher but that probably won’t happen on the Raspberry Pi 3 or 4.
I bought a Raspberry Pi 4 for my son earlier this year to run Minecraft, but I was surprised to see that the Microsoft account was an insurmountable barrier to playing the game. Java is supposed to be cross-platform but Microsoft has found a way to remove that cross-platform support by tying it to their login system and launcher.
Garrett M. Graff has this article for Wired about the Mirai botnet denial-of-service attack, saying that it was powered by angry Minecraft server operators and players:
As the 2016 US presidential election drew near, fears began to mount that the so-called Mirai botnet might be the work of a nation-state practicing for an attack that would cripple the country as voters went to the polls. The truth, as made clear in that Alaskan courtroom Friday—and unsealed by the Justice Department on Wednesday—was even stranger: The brains behind Mirai were a 21-year-old Rutgers college student from suburban New Jersey and his two college-age friends from outside Pittsburgh and New Orleans. All three—Paras Jha, Josiah White, and Dalton Norman, respectively—admitted their role in creating and launching Mirai into the world.
Originally, prosecutors say, the defendants hadn’t intended to bring down the internet—they had been trying to gain an advantage in the computer game Minecraft.
VDOS was an advanced botnet: a network of malware-infected, zombie devices that its masters could commandeer to execute DDoS attacks at will. And the teens were using it to run a lucrative version of a then-common scheme in the online gaming world—a so-called booter service, geared toward helping individual gamers attack an opponent while fighting head-to-head, knocking them offline to defeat them. Its tens of thousands of customers could pay small amounts, like $5 to $50, to rent small-scale denial-of-service attacks via an easy-to-use web interface.
A similar service was used to attack the ioquake3 master server in the past. It was surprisingly easy for it to be launched on an ongoing basis.
Tasos Lazarides has a huge list of updates to the version of Minecraft for phones and tablets:
These are just a few of the additions in this huge update, and you can see now why I said this update really changes the game up and brings mobile gamers closer to being able to play the full PC game on the go.
It’s 2015 and Mojang is still paying for the mistakes of using Java to develop Minecraft by almost just now coming up to the features of the Java version of Minecraft in this just-updated C++ Pocket Edition.
Cross-platform game development can be easy when you use the right technologies. Java is useful for prototyping. Java is not useful for shipping a truly cross-platform game in 2015. I never thought I’d say this but it feels like Microsoft might just have been the right steward for Minecraft. I’m not sure they have the balls to ditch the Java version entirely and open up a desktop version of Minecraft to modifications and tinkering in the face of whatever backlash it’ll create, but I hope that Mojang, and Microsoft, do it.