RTX Lands in ‘Minecraft,’ World’s Best-Selling Video Game

It’s official: with its inclusion in the beloved world-building game, real-time ray tracing is mainstream. 
by Keoki Young

That was fast. Last year real-time ray tracing was the graphics industry’s science-fictiony future. Now it’s coming to Minecraft, the ubiquitous game where players of all ages and backgrounds come together to build amazing virtual worlds.

A game update will bring real-time ray tracing to the world’s best-selling video game — with over 176 million copies sold — NVIDIA and Microsoft announced Monday at Gamescom in Cologne.

A peek at the result is stunning. Soft shadows lend their magic to caves and nighttime environments. Reflections bring the game’s ubiquitous water to life. Refractions and scattering effects transform everything from glass to glittering diamonds.

The game’s blocky world — once Minecraft’s creative community gets its hands on this — will never be the same. And now the tens of millions who start out gaming in Minecraft will demand nothing less.

Click to open an interactive RTX On-RTX Off screenshot comparison.

Together, NVIDIA and game developer Mojang are adding path tracing, an advanced form of ray tracing, to the Windows 10 version of the game. The technique simulates the way light moves throughout a scene.

“Ray tracing sits at the center of what we think is next for Minecraft,” said Saxs Persson, franchise creative director of Minecraft at Microsoft. “RTX gives the Minecraft world a brand-new feel to it. In normal Minecraft, a block of gold just appears yellow, but with ray tracing turned on, you really get to see the specular highlight, you get to see the reflection, you can even see a mob reflected in it.”

Aug. 20 update: To showcase the potential of Minecraft with ray tracing, we’ve created some realistic high-resolution textures. We’re excited to see what realistic environments the Minecraft creative community can build with ray tracing.

Minecraft screenshot showing RTX on

Minecraft screenshot showing RTX on

Minecraft screenshot showing RTX on

The addition of ray tracing to Minecraft, with its enduring appeal to gamers of all ages, shows the momentum real-time ray tracing has built over the past year.

Battlefield V, Metro Exodus, Quake II RTX, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Stay in the Light (early access) are among the major titles already shipping with ray-tracing support.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Cyberpunk 2077, Watch Dogs: Legion, Control and Wolfenstein: Youngblood are all on the list of major upcoming games that will be using ray tracing.

First introduced last year, NVIDIA RTX is at the center of a sprawling ecosystem that includes industry-standard application programming interfaces, support in major game engines, and games from the biggest publishers.

Turing is a key part of that ecosystem. The world’s most advanced GPU architecture, Turing fuses next-generation shaders with real-time ray tracing and all-new AI capabilities.

GeForce RTX GPUs, powered by Turing’s hybrid-graphics capability, represent the biggest generational leap ever in gaming GPUs, delivering up to 6x more performance than previous GeForce GTX 10-series Pascal GPUs.

Click to open an interactive RTX On-RTX Off screenshot comparison.

There may be no better way to see the difference Turing makes than in the worlds tens of millions of gamers have created in Minecraft.

It’s the latest sign of real-time ray tracing’s status as part of the PC gaming mainstream, and — with a rich pipeline of high-profile titles implementing ray tracing on the way — a taste of more great things to come.

Minecraft screenshot with RTX on
Click to open an interactive RTX On-RTX Off screenshot comparison.