When I heard about this year's Minecraft mob vote, I thought to myself, "Gosh, that sounds like fun! Some discussion, some debate, a little bit of good-natured trash talk, and at the end of the day, a new creature for players to enjoy." Dear readers, I was wrong. A big chunk of the Minecraft community is not happy about the democratic process, and a petition calling on players to boycott the vote has now surpassed an astounding 300,000 signatures.
The mob vote is actually an ongoing thing: Every year, Mojang presents concepts for three possible mobs and gives players the opportunity to vote on which one will be added to the game. This year's candidates are a crab, an armadillo, and a penguin, all of them "equally great," according to the petition—which is central to the complaint.
"The Mob Vote generates engagement by tearing the community apart, leaving fantastic ideas on the cutting room floor, and teasing content that will never be seen in the game," the petition states. "That, mixed with the fact that Mojang somehow releases less content WITH Microsoft's backing than they did without, means players see minimal content to the game they love, and watch as possibly the one thing to get them to play again is ripped from them."
The petition also complains that the mob vote is "inherently flawed" because content creators, they claim, mobilize their fans "to vote for the least popular option for the joke of screwing over the other voters." One might argue that the mob that attracts the most votes is actually the most popular option (or at the very least question who determines which losing candidate is actually the real favorite) but... well, anyway. There's also unhappiness over the frequency and scale of Minecraft updates, which players feel have been getting overall smaller, regardless of the mob vote results.
The anti-vote petition is being supported on social media by some occasionally overwrought but also genuinely impressive digital campaign art utilizing revolutionary imagery, pro-union slogans, and wartime propaganda. It's a little weird, but I admire a lot of the effort.
Comunidade de Minecraft agora #STOPTHEVOTE #StopTheMobVote pic.twitter.com/1Hrig048K4October 10, 2023
Someone made a slideshow in the style of war propaganda against the Minecraft mobThank you for the best video I’ve seen all week 😭#MinecraftMobVote #MinecraftLive #MobVote2023 #StopTheMobVote pic.twitter.com/FEBAfb1oXHOctober 7, 2023
My immediate reaction was that all of this was some kind of meta-joke that was going over my head: Someone made a cool poster, someone else made a cool poster, and next thing you know we're rolling guillotines in the streets and hoping that someone knows what we're mad about. But for the most part, it seems serious, and reflects a longer-simmering discontent over the mob vote that's been building up for years. That can be seen more definitively in the response to the petition, which has drummed up over 300,000 votes since launching on October 6—more than 100,000 of which have rolled in just in the past 24 hours.
"Whether we win or lose, I'd like to make something good of this community," one petition organizer said in an update posted after it passed 200,000 signatures. "I was thinking of holding a livestream where we all watch the Minecraft Live event. If we win, we can celebrate our victory. If we lose, we can celebrate our community coming together for the betterment of our game."
The petition itself comes off as silly, but that update strikes me as eminently reasonable: An expression of dissatisfaction wrapped in community positivity comes off a lot better than accusations of "laziness" at Mojang. I'm all for game communities getting wound-up and goofy over things they're passionate about, but yelling at developers that they're lazy, greedy, or devious isn't fun, it's just crappy behavior.
Thus far, Mojang hasn't publicly responded to the petition or indication that any changes in this year's Mob Vote might be in store—I've reached out to the studio for more information, and will update if I receive a reply. The 2023 Minecraft Mob Vote is set to kick off on October 15.