Following an announcement earlier this year, Microsoft and Mojang have followed through on bad news for owners of Minecraft on older game systems. Yesterday marked the end of development on the popular game's "legacy" branch.
That means if you still play Minecraft on the game's first-ever console port platform, the Xbox 360, this week's 1.83 patch is the last one you can expect to ever receive. The same goes for owners of the game on PlayStation 3, Wii U, and PlayStation Vita.
Most of the game's modern versions, ranging from iOS and Android to PC and "current-gen" consoles, were unified in a shared-codebase manner by primary developer Mojang earlier this year. This version originated from a "Pocket Edition" codebase and later became known as the "Bedrock" edition. The aforementioned legacy platforms, on the other hand, remained in the development hands of independent Scottish studio 4J. Microsoft's relationship with 4J began in the Xbox 360 era with ports of classic Rare games Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark (which were ported from their original N64 versions, owing to Microsoft's current ownership of those franchises).
4J confirmed the final-patch news on Tuesday morning by posting an image of its older-console development kits unplugged and arranged against a wall. "As we pack up our Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, and Wii U development kits, we're getting all nostalgic," the tweet read.
This patch includes the same new "mob" characters that can randomly appear in Bedrock versions of the game (including cats and pandas) along with other bug fixes. Thus, this appears to be the last time anyone can expect feature parity between current-gen and last-gen versions of Minecraft.
4J has not announced whether it will continue supporting the Minecraft franchise as a developer, and neither the studio nor Microsoft immediately replied to requests for clarification. Sources indicated to Ars Technica that 4J's relationship with Minecraft will continue but did not elaborate.
This is the second major branch of the game to be shut down by Microsoft, following the shuttering of its Windows Phone and Windows Mobile versions in 2017.
We can estimate up to 4.5 million Minecraft players will be left in the cold by this update, based on information provided by Mojang's original announcement. At that time, the developer indicated that "less than 5 percent" of players play on these platforms, and the game is currently up to roughly 91 million monthly players.
Minecraft's original early access period included a "buy it once, own it forever" promise, and that persists, thanks to back-end work at Mojang's site to support the game's original buyers between 2009-11… but only if they redeemed a permanent voucher for a version on Windows 10. Buyers of the game's Xbox 360 version originally had a free-upgrade path to claiming the game's license for use on Xbox One, but that temporary upgrade offer has since expired. And the current-gen version supports cross-play on nearly every platform imaginable, save one.