Minecraft’s win at Sony Corp.’s annual PlayStation Awards shows just how much things have changed since the company first began to celebrate Asia’s best-selling titles two decades ago.
The sandbox game shared the Platinum Prize for titles selling more than 1 million units in the region with Konami Holdings Corp.’s Metal Gear Solid V and Square Enix Holding Co.’s Dragon Quest Heroes. It also received the Network Award as one of PlayStation’s top three most-downloaded games. Minecraft allows users to create and share worlds made out of textured cubes.
Unlike the major publishers it shared the pedestal with, Minecraft started as a passion project of a single Swedish programmer. It became a massive hit on the PC as videos of players using the game’s complex crafting system to build a full-scale Star Trek Enterprise and functioning computers went viral. Microsoft Corp., whose Xbox player competes with PlayStation, bought the game for $2.5 billion in 2014.
A handful of publishers and game franchises have dominated the awards since Sony began giving out the prizes in 1995. Square Enix’s Final Fantasy received the top prize seven times, followed by its own Dragon Quest series and Konami’s Winning Eleven soccer game, which hold five Platinum Prizes each.
The year 2000 was all about shaking it, as two of Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution titles for the original PlayStation made the list. Konami's soccer games rode the wave of the sport's popularity for four years after Japan co-hosted the World Cup with South Korea in 2002.
Capcom Co.’s Monster Hunter Portable was the only million seller for three years to 2009 as Japan’s middle schoolers caught the monster fever. It was the heyday of Sony’s PlayStation Portable, while expensive and over-engineered PlayStation 3 struggled to gain traction.
Only Final Fantasy XIII and Take Two Interactive Software Inc.’s Grand Theft Auto V were able to reach million units on the PS3. This year marked a revival of the console business as sales of the PS4 tripled in the October-November period from a year after a price cut. Sony has sold more than 30 million units of the player worldwide.
Konami’s Metal Gear Solid, a frequent also-ran in the Awards, finally made the Platinum list with the fifth installment in the series. Celebrations were marred by the absence of the game’s creator Hideo Kojima, who reportedly was ousted after a spat with company management. Konami’s head of public relations climbed the stage to accept the award to awkward applause from the audience.