Let me be clear right up front on this: I don’t play Minecraft at all. Talking about this game puts me far – FAR – outside my depth and leaves me feeling a bit vulnerable. So, if I miss a detail here or there about the intricacies of Minecraft as a whole, please forgive me. I’m not here to talk about the game, really, so I think we’re all on solid ground from that standpoint. What I am here to talk about is the odd disappearance of the app from the Play Store for nearly all Chromebooks across the board except one and what the path forward might look like.
First up, Minecraft’s new Nether update has hit this week and brings all sorts of great new stuff to the game across all platforms. Again, I’m not very familiar with the ins-and-outs of Minecraft, so I’ll let a quick video trailer do the talking for me below.
It seems this update, while adding all sorts of exciting gameplay features, has basically killed nearly all Chromebook support. For what it is worth, I had Minecraft installed on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet prior to this update and now the app shows in the Play Store with a dire warning:
It still opens fine, but I’d imagine over time this app will cease functioning and/or won’t take any further updates. After seeing this, we tried every single Chrome OS device we have laying around (Acer Chromebook 15, Lenovo Flex 5, Pixelbook, Pixel Slate, Acer Spin 713, Samsung Chromebook Pro, Lenovo Chromebook 3, CTL Chromebox, and the Acer Chromebook 314) and we had almost zero luck finding the Minecraft app in the Play Store on any of them.
There was one device that continually had the app available, however, and it did so across multiple accounts. That device is the Pixelbook Go. From what we can tell at this point, Chromebooks have almost universally lost the ability to install Minecraft from the Play Store with the exception of Google’s most recent hardware. We thought maybe they would target Google-made Chromebooks first as the only Chromebooks now compatible with the game, but we quickly realized no other Google Chromebook had the app, either.
It is a strange move to be sure, but if this new Nether update is taxing on most systems, perhaps Mojang decided to narrow the scope of the app to start with and will begin opening the doors up a bit as time goes on. After all, there’s no reason the 8th-gen Y-series Core i5 in my Pixelbook can run this game and the 10th-gen U-series Core i5 in the Acer Spin 713 can’t. Functionally, there should be little issue, but perhaps the developers thought it best to start small, test, and release compatibility on a few Chromebooks at a time.
The strangest part is the fact that I spent a bit of time testing Minecraft prior to this update on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet and it ran quite well for me there. It wasn’t perfect and I’m sure this new update might completely tank it, but if a very low-powered Chromebook like the Duet can make it work, I’d say any Chrome OS device in the $300+ range should be just fine.
I’m hopeful that the trajectory for this app changes in the coming weeks as they roll out this large update. One of the biggest questions we get around here is how to run Minecraft on a Chromebook. There are Linux-based workarounds and other ways to get this game on a Chrome OS device, but having the full game right in the Play Store is clearly the right way to go and creates a pretty massive target audience for Mojang, here. I can fully appreciate them taking the time to get it right on Chromebooks before opening the flood gates. I can. What won’t make any sense as time goes by is the lack of other Chromebooks getting added into the fray. As we’ve said time and time again, developers big and small need to have Chromebooks on the radar and, right now at least, this just isn’t a very good look. Let’s all hope that changes soon.