For the last six years, Minecraft players have been able to play the game without a Microsoft account, but that will change in 2021, the official Minecraft blog reported yesterday. Players who own the original version of the game and do not move to an account with Microsoft will not be able to play.
Since its 2011 launch on consoles, the game has existed in two separately produced versions. Previously, Mojang accounts were used in the original Minecraft: Java Edition, while Minecraft: Bedrock Edition, the console name and Windows store version of the game, used Microsoft accounts. The accounts will be the same after this update, but there is still no crossplay: you’re still not going to be able to play with friends using the other version of the game.
New accounts will offer two-factor authentication and other security features
Mojang says players transferring from Mojang accounts will not lose any details and that new accounts will provide two-factor authentication (2FA) and other security features previously available in the Bedrock Version of the game, such as parental controls and the ability to block chats and invitations — a concern for younger players on multiplayer servers.
Players will be emailed in batches in the coming months on how to transfer and will receive additional updates on their profile page when they are ready to build a new account. In addition to the blog post, Mojang created a video to clarify the move and avoid player complaints:
For those concerned, the video is reassuring about the usability of user-generated content and multiplayer, but it makes some major assumptions about how positive you’re going to feel. Also, the video doesn’t mention something that might make a lot of players angry: Java Edition player usernames are at risk.
This new update will not affect your previous usernames on Minecraft
In support articles addressing the change, Mojang is clear that your username will not be affected in-game, but if someone already uses your name or does not meet Microsoft standards, you may be forced to log in with another one. There may not be as many names available to pick from, given that console players have had eight years to pick up.
Mojang says it was easier to use Microsoft accounts to deliver these new features than to build them from scratch, but if they were so important to offer in the first place, why did they take so long to arrive? Players have demanded two-factor authentication for as long as the game provides a place to buy and sell content — three years, if you’re counting.
Protecting your virtual items from theft seems to be a significant enough justification to make a move, but it wasn’t until now. I can’t help but wonder if this is a Microsoft forced problem, simplifying the management of their biggest game before the launch of next-generation consoles.
Although not as incendiary as Facebook’s decision to enable Facebook accounts to use Oculus headsets, Minecraft is still one of the biggest games in the world, and many players will now have to take action if they still want to play.