Minecraft players of all stripes will soon be required to use a Microsoft account to continue playing. A post on the Mojang website lays out the move, its implications, and its reasoning.
While the post's headline hints that it's centered on the Java version of Minecraft, the text makes it clear that this affects all PC versions of Minecraft, Java and otherwise. A FAQ has been set up to help users with the migration process. The first question on that FAQ makes it clear that this move is primarily a logistical and security issue.
We have decided to move away from legacy accounts to better protect our players, increase overall account security, and introduce new safety features. Because we can’t do this with legacy accounts, we made the decision to use Microsoft accounts instead of building new ones from scratch. The biggest added benefit to migrating your account is the option to enable two-factor authentication. We will roll out additional player safety features over time.
Mojang plans to start transitioning players in batches early in 2021. Existing players will be sent emails, providing instructions on how to merge their accounts. Individuals who have multiple accounts will, naturally, be getting multiple emails and will need separate Microsoft accounts for each one. As part of the process, Mojang also indicated in the post that completing the migration process will allow players to claim a special cape accessory.
Food For Thought
The logistical concerns Mojang points out are completely valid, particularly when you consider they've been under the Microsoft umbrella now for a while. However, given the timing, it carries an uncomfortable echo of Facebook's forced migration of Oculus accounts. While Minecraft is not quite in the same category as expensive VR hardware, the tremendous amount of user-generated content (such as the "life sized" reproductions of famous structures) and the man-hours put into them is potentially at risk for deletion.