I tried explaining why it's so short-sighted to say Second Life is "the most successful virtual world ever made to this day", but this new video from Vox may do a better job. Minecraft was first launched as a survival game but it quickly also became an open-ended sandbox with a genuine art scene and real businesses making money to develop within it, even for branded experiences promoting movies like Batman vs. Superman. As Vox explains in the accompanying article:
The artistic opportunities flow from Minecraft’s open structure. Though players can participate in the classically video-game-like “Survival Mode,” they can also do whatever they want in the game’s “Creative Mode,” which removes any threats and turns Minecraft into a blank canvas. For designers like those at Blockworks, Creative Mode gives them an opportunity to collaborate on new worlds, or “maps,” that are incredibly intricate, despite the limited “cubist” nature of their materials. The creativity “Creative Mode” enables is obvious in the work that talented designers produce. Sometimes Minecraft artists will create interactive worlds that replicate historic events; other times, Minecraft’s many cubes coalesce into a sculptural image, the same way pointillism’s dots disappear to form a picture. These images and worlds can be eerie, magical, and surprisingly beautiful. But perhaps most surprising of all, Minecraft worlds can also be a business. Companies like Blockworks make maps for private Minecraft servers (computer networks that host Minecraft games), and they also occasionally design maps in collaboration with institutions and companies like Minecraft owner Microsoft. That’s allowed the group to make some cash from its far-flung syndicate of talented designers.
But I doubt any of this would have happened, hadn't Minecraft first succeeded as a game. (Linden Lab, High Fidelity, take note.)
Hat tip: Jason Kottke.