Global indie phenomenon Minecraft is about to enter its beta phase, bringing with it a price hike and new gameplay elements.

According to a post on creator Marcus "Notch" Persson's blog, the shift is scheduled for 20th December. There will be a greater focus on "polish and content", reflected in a price increase from 10 to 14.95.

"The next epoch is upon us!" wrote Persson. "The skies are trembling, pigs are growing wings, and the nether is turning awfully cold, as Minecraft slowly crawls out of Alpha.

"We'll start early on with adding proper modding support with a stable API, and we'd love all input we can get on this from the modders out there. We'll also add some kind of non-intrusive narrative to the game to help drive the game experience early on, and to provide some kind of late game goal.

"There will be a bigger focus on testing and stability as well, with more time between updates.

"We will also change the license to remove the line that promises all future versions of the game for free," he continued.

"Please note that this change only affects people who buy the game after December 20, so if you got the game for during alpha, you will still get all future updates for free, despite this change. A promise is a promise.

"Buying the game during beta will include all updates up until release, of course, and bug patches will be free."

Persson went on to reveal a new pre-beta update was planned for later this week, and that gift codes for the game will be available in time for Christmas.

In the event that you still haven't got your head around Persson's hugely successful creation, Rob Fahey's comprehensive feature is the perfect place to start.

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Fred Dutton

Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton is Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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