Dubbed “Minecraft: Story Mode,” the series will be set in the world of Minecraft, but it will feature an original story that combines new characters with familiar themes and is driven by player choice. It will be a separate standalone product.
“We’re not intending on creating an ‘official’ story for Steve, or explaining the world of Minecraft in detail,” said Mojang spokesperson Owen Hill. “It will be a cool game.”
Due to be released episodically, Minecraft: Story Mode is expected to debut next year for Xbox and PlayStation consoles, Windows and OS X PCs, and iOS and Android-based devices.
Telltale Games is the maker of The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead: Season Two, as well as Game of Thrones and Tales from the Borderlands.
The decision to make the new game community-driven is “potentially brilliant,” said Lewis Ward, IDC’s research director for gaming.
“It’s interesting that they’re going to somehow incorporate feedback from the community and bring that into Minecraft: Story Mode,” Ward told TechNewsWorld. “In a way, it echoes what Minecraft is, which is a user-generated world.”
It’s highly likely that there already have been gamers on Minecraft fan blogs who have “come up with theories as to how the universe was created,” he suggested. “I’m sure there’s a lot of thinking and probably fan art out there already.”
The move “seems to be a first for Telltale,” Ward added. “I like it. I’m a big believer in user-generated content and crowdsourcing in a general sense, and will be really intrigued to see what direction this will go in.”
There could be “lots of contradictory things thrown out there before they settle on something cool,” he acknowledged, but “from a marketing standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world for the community to be catered to on the level of, ‘you guys are going to write this.'”
Considering it debuted in 2009, Minecraft is “probably due for an evolution of some sort,” said Christine Arrington, a senior analyst for games with IHS.
“Story Mode seems like a natural next step,” she told TechNewsWorld.
Although Telltale’s involvement is somewhat surprising, according to Arrington, “the company has made a name for itself by being very responsive to gamer input and extending very well-known properties.
“Given their track record, I think Telltale is a good pick for a company that can take on that challenge,” she said.
“It is a very risky business to take on the kinds of stories they have — The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, for example — and satisfy a dedicated fan base that has very high expectations,” Arrington pointed out. “While Minecraft is from a very different genre, developing a story based on a property is what Telltale does.”
Starting From Scratch
There will be challenges, however.
“Minecraft is at the far end of the spectrum from the fully formed properties Telltale is used to working with,” Arrington explained. “It will be a completely different development scenario, having a world with no story and starting from the beginning.”
The company will have to “be careful it does not consume resources from its other properties. Minecraft could be a juggernaut that uses up resources,” she said.
Of course, “as long as the Minecraft story is popular and successful, that might be OK, but Telltale already had a solid fan base that really does not cross over much with the Minecraft fan base,” Arrington observed. “The company will have to mindful of serving both markets.”