Felix Jones

Yesterday was the canonical two-thousand-and-twenty-third Mob Vote.

Tiberius Julius Caesar Augustus.

Did you know: The first mob vote was hosted by Roman emporer Tiberius Julius Augustus in the year 1 AD to decide which of three beasts shall be thrown into Gladiatorial battle against Stevus Maximus Aurus; a fighter who gained fame through defeating a squid using nothing but a fishing rod. Probably.

Opinions expressed here are my own, they are not representative of Mojang Studios, nor the Minecraft team.

Full transparency: I do not have any direct involvement in Minecraft Live, nor the mob voting itself, so I am likely talking out of ignorance regarding how things work and my opinions are probably going to be garbage as a result of that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What was I involved with?

Unlike previous years; this year I didn’t first learn about the mobs via drinking boxed wine with colleagues in Vasaparken. I had the Bedrock Gameplay Tech Lead responsibility of signing off on the mob proposals, giving me the power to make things very difficult for the mob designers by rejecting their ideas with any kind of tech related excuse - if I really wanted to >:D

Specifically what I was signing off on was “is this idea technically feasible given our time and resources”.

My Office Conversations

Which mob will you vote for?

Between the handful of colleagues I asked, it seemed like the battle will be between the Crab and the Penguin.

Both sides argued that their mob was “cute”, which seems to be the deciding factor amongst the handful of Mojang staff that happened to be in conversation with me.

Which mob do you think will win?

This is a very different question, but again it seemed like the battle will be between the Crab and the Penguin.

The arguments were:

I felt pretty alone when I argued the Armadillo would win, but who’s laughing now?

The Armadillo Won the Mob Vote

The Armadillo won the mob vote.
The Armadillo won the mob vote.

Were the 2023 Mobs Better Balanced?

Again: I wasn’t involved in this, other than signing off on the technical proposals, so I have no clue how much thought or effort was put into balancing the mobs versus previous years, but as a Minecraft fan it looks to me that some serious effort was put into avoiding having “one obvious choice” that I believe affected previous mob votes.

Meme of Thanos balancing a knife, but I put the crab and the penguin on the ends of the knife. The armadillo is confused.

I do wonder if the mobs have indeed been simplified versus the Allay or Sniffer in terms of complexity to keep things balanced. Of course, the winning mob will probably have a load more complexity thrown into it as its design is explored (I hope not because that means more work…), but I believe what we presented this year was kept simple and that’s what provided the balance.

We got the mob, a quirk, the location, and 1 feature:

Mob Quirk Biome Feature
Penguin Social amphibian Stony shores Somehow makes boats fast
Armadillo Curls into a ball Savanna Scute makes wolf armour
Crab It’s a crab. Mangrove swamp Somehow claw places blocks further away

A world without “one obvious choice”

Last year I wrote that I saw a handful of comments along the lines of “But seeing the other two mobs lose makes me upset”, and I specifically said “I’m probably not communicating my point here very well, probably because I need more time to think on it.”

I now think that this sentiment from years past came from individuals who believed past mob votes were balanced and were faced with the reality that no matter the winner: it is a 66% loss - and I believe with the mobs being even more balanced this year this sentiment grew to be the dominant discussion on Twitter.

If there was one obvious choice, then the results of the vote is not a 66% loss, it’s a 0% loss because one of the mobs was clearly better than all the others, and comparatively fewer people would be upset about that.

The ceremonial yeeting of the mobs.
The ceremonial yeeting of the mobs.

I think this also plays into the sentiment of “the mob vote just divides the community”. If all mobs had a 33% chance of winning, then the community would be divided into thirds, each third championing their mob.

Both of these sentiments are what I’ve personally seen on my Twitter feed this year, leading me to conclude that we got the balance quite close.

Why did the Armadillo win?

If the mobs were perfectly balanced, then the vote would tie on a 33% split each (which would have been incredible).

I remember leaving the meeting where the mobs were first presented to me for tech approval, turning to someone and saying “The Armadillo will win because of the Wolf armour”.

I asked my Armadillo-voting followers for some info on why they chose this mob and I’ve seen two major points:

Savanna is empty

I’ve seen comments that the savanna is empty, lacks identity, lacks a mob, and in general “needs an update”.

Indeed, adding a unique mob to this biome will help, but I’d argue the same applies for the Penguin with the stony shores - that being said the savanna is a more visually interesting biome to build in versus the stony shore.

Wolf Armour

I’m probably cherry picking this reason because it’s the one I predicted, but to my, rather-biased, eyes it does indeed look like wolf armour was the deciding factor.

I believe more wolf variations (more specifically, dog breeds) is a very popular suggestion from the community, and in general players care a lot for their Minecraft pets, so with wolf armour taking a step towards pet accessories it probably provides more empathetic theming than a crab claw and boats.

The actual protection the armour provides is important, too, but I wouldn’t be surprised if players are more interested in the aesthetic potential.

The armadillo received over 40% of the over 5 million votes! 📷

Mob Vote 2023 results:
Armadillo – 42.3%
Crab – 32.5%
Penguin – 25.2%#MinecraftLive 🎉 pic.twitter.com/WmhKVJWJfc

— Minecraft (@Minecraft) October 15, 2023

More Community Reactions

The Crab did not win the vote.

Important! I am not part of the Mojang community team: I am just a dude on Twitter, picking his nose as he scrolls through Minecraft tweets, like any other Minecraft player.

I’ve tried to compile some of the reactions I’ve personally seen, with some of my personal thoughts.

Mojang is locking these crucial features behind the mob vote

I was surprised to see this comment appear in Twitter, because personally I don’t believe these features to be crucial, and I think that’s important for a mob vote specifically because Mojang would otherwise be locking crucial features behind a vote.

It’s pretty easy to use the arguments that players have presented against each mob to counter the idea that these are crucial features:

That being said, I think there is a learning somewhere here for the Minecraft team regarding the perception of features being critical to the game.

Players who don’t even play Minecraft that much shouldn’t be allowed to vote

An evolution of “no votes from people who don’t own Minecraft”. I have the (very) controversial opinion that even people who watch Minecraft videos without owning the game should be allowed to vote for which mob their favourite content creator gets to interact with.

It seems like a mistake to gate keep the mob vote behind play time, although perhaps some kind of interesting game could be made out of this: The more Diamonds you mine the more votes you get? I can imagine this working with the Bedrock Mob Vote map, where perhaps players could take part in an Infiniminer style PvP game of mine the most Diamonds, which are then traded in for mob votes.

Maybe Mojang should provide some kind of test to see how pro a Minecraft player is before they can vote? I don’t think so.

Players always vote for the cute mob

I think this is more in vein with why I think Wolf armour was a significant factor, where players are voting for something that they can empathise with.

That being said, the Penguin and Crab are both also rather cute.

As I wrote above: the office prediction was that the Crab and Penguin will be split on the argument of Utility vs Cute.

Looking at the 2020 vote: the content creator communities really gathered around and agreed on the Iceologer as being the “correct” choice to vote for. Most of the discussion I saw were around the utility provided by a hostile mob and whatever item it would probably drop, and I remember in the office we expected an Iceologer sweep, to the point where Ulraf’s reaction when unveiling the Glow Squid was a genuine reaction of surprise. Wait, was the Glow Squid more cute than the Moobloom?

Perhaps cute does trump utility, but I’m not sure that’s a bad reason to vote for a mob.

The mob is going to be in the game for another 85 years or something, so it should probably be one that players enjoy just hanging around and seeing for the long-run. Chances are: any utility provided will be made obsolete by some random update made within the next 50 years.

This probably speaks to the different ways that players play the game: Some players really do focus on the technical aspects, where utility is the most important factor.

If all mobs were equally cute as they were useful, then we’d be golden.

Mojang staff shouldn’t be allowed to vote

Whilst this one is pretty silly as there’s millions more players than there are staff at Mojang (let alone, people in the Minecraft team), there is probably something to be said about Mojang staff supporting particular mobs on Twitter.

Mojang staff are likely to have inside information, and perhaps there is a biased preference that the Minecraft team would rather work on one mob than the other, so then there’s motivation to encourage your following to vote for your mob of choice.

Of course, this isn’t a sensible line of thinking. The reality is only a handful of people at Mojang are involved with the mobs themselves, and the vast, vast majority of Minecraft players have no social interaction with any Mojang staff.

Plus, it’s just the Minecraft mob vote: It really doesn’t matter.

Would we be better without a Mob Vote?

The Penguin did not win the vote.

On my personal Twitter, I encountered a lot of individuals expressing the sentiment I mentioned above: The mob vote is heart breaking because no matter which mob wins, it’s a 66% loss with the other two mobs.

This naturally led to “Give us all three mobs this year”, and then “Unpaid modders can add these mobs to the game within hours”.

There’s even a petition to this endeavour, which has gone quite viral.

A lot has already been said about comparing skilled modders vs Mojang elsewhere, including my post last year (that you should read), but I’ll cover one part from last year’s post-mortem again here:

Why have a mob vote?

Like the rest of this post, the following is my personal opinion and does not reflect the opinions of Mojang Studios nor the Minecraft team.

For many people, the idea of developing a video game, or working in the games industry, is a far-off dream and many write it off as an impossibility. The mob vote is the chance for players to influence the biggest video game in human history.

When I think of the mob vote, I think about all the offline communities talking about Minecraft and discussing which mob to vote for and why. Most Minecraft fans do not have Twitter, or Discord, or a voice on YouTube; they are with their friends talking about Minecraft, and they’re hopefully talking about the experiences that a mob brings to their game.

Maybe they talk about the game design, maybe the artwork, maybe the personality in the animations, or they’re focused on the utility that the mob brings to their game. All of these are game development competencies - and players’ discussions and explorations get to be applied with their mob vote: influencing the development of Minecraft.

It’s a tiny taste of being a game developer: Mojang has the unique opportunity to sow that seed into millions of Minecraft players across the planet once a year. We’re up here with the best game ever made and we should be inviting others to join us. Starting with the players who aren’t even thinking about being game developers, but are currently talking about the design of a Minecraft mob with their friends right before the mob vote.

I admit, it’s a very idealistic way of looking at the Minecraft mob vote. Pessimistically, it’s just community engagement, but to me it’s one of those moments where we build a better world.

In my personal opinion: removing the mob vote would be a net loss.

Just a few of my thoughts on the Minecraft 2023 Mob Vote. If you want to hear the rest of my thoughts, then join Mojang, get your NDA signed, and ask me in person.