I'll try to keep things brief and provide some context. I was playing MineCraft one day and this question popped into my head. I was thinking about some of the things that the Bedrock edition of the game had for example, yet the Java edition lacked. One example would be that Java doesn't allow for the use of dyes with cauldrons, but in Bedrock? No problem. Conversely, the "Illusioner" mob from the illagers can be found in Java, yet is exempt from Bedrock.

To provide another example, I recently stumbled across a mobile game called Seven Knights, created and developed in South Korea, later ported and localized for global release. It is my understanding that the Korean version of the game is quite a' ways ahead of the global release. From the number of heroes, to the length of the narrative, and the number of items, the Korean version is planned fairly far ahead. I find this to be a rather odd thing to do.

So I'll ask, why is this done? Why do developers have different builds of the same game in different platforms/regions? Would it not make more sense to simply port everything as is and then localize it if need be? Why split up the builds or only port/localize part of the content?


Players from another country would have another culture and another set of expectations.

Considering that, the localized version could have censored content. Or might even have changes that lower or increase the difficulty.

You will also find bug fixed released with the localized version first. That may happen if the developers did the fixes, while they were working in the localization.

There was also the case of company changing the intelectual property attached to a game. They decided that the original was too obscure for an international audience.

Sometimes the game splits because of the platforms and not the localization.

If you have built a game in such a way that it can only run on some platforms... To port it, sometimes it is worthwhile to built it again from the ground up. And you might find you cannot support everything in the ported version. Resulting in a new game with a ton of shared content, and the same intellectual property. As a result, you have split your player base...

Players from another platform would have another set of expectations too.

You could bring a compatible version to your original set of platforms. But, there would be people still playing the old incompatible game. If that old version is very popular, you might be stuck supporting two versions of the game. Even releasing updates for both.

Once you have different teams working on them, they are going to push forward a different set of features.

If you want to keep those features inline, consider... Some platforms and tools would make some features easier to develop. Different teams would have different skills sets. Also, it can be detrimental to force a set of features on the developers. Instead, it is good idea to let the developers follow their motivation when evolving the game.

Once the versions have diverged as I mention above, uniting them into a single one, takes a lot of effort. In particular if you do not want to cut features in the name of compatibility. If it goes well, the company would offer players to migrate without losing anything. And that is a tall order for Minecraft, because mods.

When talking about online games, sometimes the developer company does not localize it. Instead they license it to third parties who localize it, and provide their own servers.

While the licensee are paying the developers for the game, they recover the investment from the player purchases... And, often the licensee will mod the game on their own accord. For example adding features their players demand. Business logic suggest to keep their players happy and buying.

Oh, and those modifications could mean a hard time upgrading to a new upstream version. When the developers release a new version, it likely breaks the licensee changes. Now, they have a few options:

  • Drop their changes, and stick with the version from the developers.
  • Lag behind while they reimplement those changes in the new version.
  • Stick with the old version and their changes.

Games ported to different platforms could have a different development team depending on it. This means that both teams need to communicate about the update changes, it also would have to deal with publishers and acceptment phases on consoles, which in turn could lead to less frequent updates to consoles.

In some cases, the game needed to be build from the ground up (playing with only a controller is much different than playing with mouse and keyboard) which means the console version can be entirely different from the original source code, but still plays the same.

Different countries also have different policy rules, and may need to review or sensor the game if it's contents violates their policy. This can also lead to different changes on each version.

I do not know if this all is the same case for Minecraft though.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Another reason for region difference is, if the game was already released in country X for years; pushing the game to the latest patch could reduce revenue since the long time play expectation goes down if there are not many updates vs having years of available ready content that can be slowly released. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibelas
    Sep 16 '20 at 7:44

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