Surprise indie hit Minecraft
will be receiving a long-anticipated beta version and raising its price to €14.95 ($20) on December 20, according to a blog post
by creator Markus "Notch" Persson.
Players who have already purchased the €9.95 ($13) alpha version of the game, or do so before December 20, will receive access to the beta update -- and all future updates -- for free, according to Persson.
Those who purchase the beta will also receive access to all updates up to and including the game's final release -- but will not include free access to potential post-release updates such as expansions, the blog post appears to intimate.
The beta version will include "a larger focus on polish and content" and an "increased focus on testing and stability," according to Persson, as well as and official API and official modding support. Perrson also promises a basic story and end-game goals to "help drive the experience" in the beta.
The relatively freeform gameplay in Minecraft
focuses on creating increasingly complex weapons and building objects from basic materials, in order to protect yourself from monsters that attack during a pitch black, in-game night.
Hundreds of obsessed players have used the game's environment to build everything from roller coasters and scale models of the U.S.S. Enterprise to basic, functional computers.
After a quiet release for a "classic" version last year, the June release of the Minecraft
's alpha quickly rose out of obscurity to attract over 320,000 sales
by early October, netting the game's lone creator millions of dollars.
In October, the game's server was hit by a denial of service attack
, allegedly arranged by players mad about the slow pace of game updates.