Editorial: The Minecraft family tree

Once upon a time, Minecraft was one game on one platform - PC. Over the years it has grown to encompass almost every major gaming platform in existance, ranging from home consoles like the PlayStation and Xbox to handhelds like the Vita. It's hard to keep track of which editions came from where, which ones are programmed in what language, and what features every version has.

Family TreeTo try and make things a little easier, I created the above infographic. This is the family tree of Minecraft, showing exactly what editions are based on what and where they came from. All editions of Minecraft (except Pocket and Windows 10) can trace their origins to Minecraft PC beta - specifically Minecraft Beta 1.6.

But you may ask yourself - what's so special about 1.6? Well, it was released around the time Mojang partnered with 4J Studios to begin porting Minecraft to the Xbox 360. 4J Studios started with the most recent version of Minecraft available at the time, Beta 1.6, and began the slow process of porting it to C++/C# to run on the Xbox 360's limited hardware.

As Minecraft PC continued to gain new features, most of them were 'backported' to the console code based on Beta 1.6. Instead of completely re-writing the game every time, 4J Studios re-wrote specific features in C++/C# to add them to the Xbox 360.

As time went on, 4J Studios expanded the console edition to support the PlayStation 3, and later the PS4, Xbox One, and PS Vita. All of these editions are slightly different in the codebase, but they all share most of their code with the original Xbox 360 edition.

There's also another family tree on the right side - the Pocket Edition family tree. Pocket Edition was written from scratch in C++, similar to the console edition. Without the restraints of Java, Pocket Edition ran great on mobile devices. But just like the console edition, features from other editions had to be ported over in another language.

Pocket Edition serves as the codebase for Windows 10 Edition, and presumably in the future they will continue to share a common base. Not pictured is the discontinued Raspberry Pi Edition, based on a very early version of Pocket Edition and was never updated.

The Minecraft family tree extends to almost every current gaming platform in existance, and it shows where everything came from. Who knows what's next?

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