Microsoft has owned Minecraft for the last six years. In this period, players have been able to play the game without a Microsoft account. However, this will change in 2021 as the company announced that players who own the original version of the game need to switch to a Microsoft account to be able to play.
The game has existed in two separately developed versions since its 2011 launch on consoles. Previously, the original Minecraft: Java Edition used Mojang accounts, while Minecraft: Bedrock Edition, the name for the console and Windows store version of the game, used Microsoft accounts. After this change, the accounts will be the same, but you still won’t be able to play with players using the other version of the game.
Mojang says players migrating from Mojang accounts will not lose any information and that the new accounts will offer two-factor authentication and other safety features previously available in the Bedrock Edition of the game, like parental controls and the ability to block chats and invitations. For anyone worried, the video is reassuring about the compatibility of user-generated content and multiplayer.
However, the usernames for Java Edition players are at risk. In support articles addressing the change, Mojang is clear that your username won’t be affected in-game, but if someone is already using your name or it doesn’t meet Microsoft’s standards, you might be forced to log in with a different one. There may not be as many names available to pick from.
Mojang says that it was easier to use Microsoft accounts to offer these new features rather than create them from scratch. However, if they’re so important to offer in the first place, players are wondering why they took so long to arrive. Players have requested two-factor authentication for as long as the game has offered a place to buy and sell content. Protecting your virtual objects from theft seems like an important enough reason to prompt a change, but it didn’t until now.
While not as incendiary as Facebook’s decision to require Facebook accounts for the use of Oculus headsets, Minecraft is still one of the biggest games in the world and now many players will have to take action if they still want to play.