Mojang Studios’ latest update to the Java version of Minecraft removes a random title screen message shouting out controversial website 4chan that existed in the game for over 10 years.
While this change doesn’t appear in the official patch notes, the meticulous record-keepers of the Minecraft wiki noticed the splash text’s removal after digging through the files of the ver.1.17 build that launched on May 27. The shoutout has yet to return in subsequent iterations of ver.1.17, which is still in pre-release. Kotaku independently confirmed that the text appears in the latest official build, ver.1.16.5, but is now missing in ver.1.17.
Mojang Studios owner Microsoft declined to comment.
In Minecraft’s early days, creator Markus “Notch” Persson promoted the project through a wide-reaching campaign that included a heavy push on 4chan. The attention Minecraft received on /v/, the controversial site’s dedicated imageboard for video game discussion, is today seen as a notable contributor to its meteoric rise in popularity. As such, Persson added a shoutout (“Woo, /v/!”) to the title screen’s rotating splash messages in a 2010 build, alongside similar nods to sites like Something Awful, TIGSource, and Facepunch. The reference never appeared outside the Java version of the game.
An archived /v/ thread from last week shows how 4chan users reacted to the news at the time. The discussion is mostly (and perhaps predictably) venomous and navel-gazing, but more than a few posters appear to show some self-awareness of the site’s reputation in modern times. Several comments also mention associations with /pol/, the “Politically Incorrect” board added to 4chan in 2011 that harbours much of the bigoted content for which the site has largely become known.
“Well, do you want to associate your product that is targeted towards kids with a site that is 18+ and filled with NSFW and politically incorrect jokes?” reads one particularly astute response. “Obviously, there’s also the issue that the press has connected 4chan to Trump, racism, and online bullying/hate mobs. So, it would be terrible optics for any company to associate with this site.”
Mojang has removed several lines from the Minecraft title screen’s rotating splash text over the years, including three that referenced Persson. While Microsoft, which purchased Mojang and Minecraft in 2014 for $US2.5 ($3) billion, has never publicly acknowledged these changes, it’s assumed the company chose to distance itself from the game’s creator as his online behaviour became more and more prejudiced. Persson’s name still appears in Minecraft’s credits.