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When Did Minecraft Stop Being Free? February 2011 After Version 1.3

Minecraft has become a global gaming phenomenon, with over 140 million monthly players as of 2022. But there was a time when this creative sandbox game was freely accessible to all during its early development stages. So when exactly did Minecraft stop being free?

In this ultimate guide, we‘ll dig into the pricing evolution of one of the world‘s most popular games. As a fellow gaming enthusiast, I‘ll show you how to still get Minecraft for free or cheap in 2023. Let‘s jump in!

A Brief History of Minecraft‘s Pricing Changes

Minecraft started in 2009 as the brainchild of Swedish programmer Markus "Notch" Persson. In its initial playable iterations, Minecraft was free for all up until Version 1.3 released in February 2011. This marked the official end of Minecraft‘s free era.

Up until Version 1.3, Minecraft was still in early access development. Over 17,000 players got to enjoy the fledgling free game during this phase. But once Persson started charging, the paid prices were:

  • Alpha Version – €9.95
  • Beta Version – €14.95
  • Official Release – €19.95 (September 2011)

Minecraft pricing steadily increased as more features got added over time. By 2013, the game stabilized at $26.95 for the Java Edition on PC.

Then in 2014, Microsoft acquired Minecraft for a staggering $2.5 billion! But despite new corporate ownership, Minecraft‘s pricing has stayed largely consistent in the $20-$30 range.

Let‘s look at a pricing history table to summarize the key changes:

Year Version Price
2009-2011 Alpha & Beta Free
Feb 2011 Version 1.3 First paid release
Sept 2011 Official Release €19.95
2014 Microsoft Purchase $2.5 billion
2023 Present $26.95 (Java)
$29.99 (Bedrock)

Now you know exactly when Minecraft stopped being free after Version 1.3 in early 2011. Next, let‘s explore your options for scoring this gaming phenomenon cheap or free in 2023.

Still Get Minecraft 100% Free in 2023? Here Are 5 Ways

While the free-for-all early days are over, there are a handful of clever ways you can potentially get Minecraft at no cost:

1. Play Legacy Versions

Using an old Minecraft launcher, you can access alpha and beta versions from before February 2011. They‘ll be limited but free! Relive history.

2. Redeem Free Trial

Minecraft offers 5 full free gameplay days on Android, Windows 10, and Xbox One with a trial. Perfect for testing it out.

3. Enjoy Browser Demo

The free Classic version has creative mode building online to learn the basics without paying.

4. Score Gift Codes

Keep an eye out for occasional promotional codes from Mojang or Microsoft for brief free access.

5. Use MinecraftEducation Freebies

Teachers and students can sometimes get the educational edition free temporarily.

While not full access, these methods can let you enjoy Minecraft freely in some form. But for unlimited gameplay, you‘ll need to buy. Let‘s look at cheap options!

Get Minecraft on Sale: Pay Just $5-$15 for Endless Block Fun

As your guide, let me share some of my own favorite tips for scoring Minecraft at a deep discount as a savvy gamer:

Hunt for Holiday Sales – Around big holidays like Christmas, Minecraft often goes on sale for 10-30% off at many major retailers.

Direct Mojang Sales – Even better discounts can happen directly through the Minecraft website during certain seasonal sales. I once bought a PC copy for just $15!

Reseller Gift Cards – Searching sites like Kinguin can turn up highly discounted Minecraft gift cards for PC and console.

Console Bundles – Adding Minecraft as part of a console game bundle lowers the total package price.

Disc Copies – Check thrift stores or used markets for people selling disc copies of Minecraft cheap.

GamePass Freebies – Subscribers can sometimes get short-term free access if Minecraft joins the catalog.

Mobile App Sales – iOS and Android versions drop to $2-$5 during periodic app store sales. A steal!

With the right sale hunting, you can absolutely grab endless Minecraft gameplay for under $20. Now let‘s see what editions are out there.

Minecraft Edition Pricing Breakdown: Java vs. Bedrock

In 2023, there are primarily two main "flavors" of Minecraft to choose from:

Java Edition

  • PC-only
  • More mods & customization
  • Original PC game version
  • $26.95 standard price

Bedrock Edition

  • Cross-platform compatible
  • Optimized for consoles & mobile
  • Slightly more expensive at $29.99
  • But goes on sale more often

For Windows PC gamers, I‘d recommend starting with Java Edition as your best value. But console and mobile players will need the more versatile Bedrock Edition.

Below is a comparison table summarizing the pricing on various platforms:

Platform Edition Standard Price
PC (Windows, Mac, Linux) Java $26.95
Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Mobile Bedrock $29.99

No matter what platform you game on, this guide has hopefully given you some great money-saving insights into getting Minecraft cheaply – or even free! Let me know if you have any other questions.