Steve Co. Supply Crate - Minecraft
He who laughs at himself sincerely flatters Team Fortress... Err...
When I was 11-years old my father's co-workers teamed up to participate in the Australia Day Regatta in the ACT -- an event that raises money for charity and that features team-built rafts that are "raced" up a river course -- the rafts must be built by the same team that "races" them, and could only be human-powered (no engine or sail). The theme that they chose was "Shark Attack" and the centerpiece of the raft, mounted on top, was a 14-foot long shark with a large teeth-filled maw made of papier-mâché and covered in water-proofing clear-coat to protect it.
After the race (their team came in 47th) the only thing from the raft that was saved was the shark, which disappeared until, the following April, it appeared on the porch of one of the team members with a garden gnome from their yard in its mouth -- April Fools! For the next five years the shark was passed around as the official April Fool's prank, appearing on a car one year, the roof of a house another, but after the fifth year it disappeared, never to be heard from again... April fool jokes have been called the lowest form of humor...
In March 2011 in the dark of night a stealthy group of coders at Mojang crept into the server room and quietly went about their business creating Minecraft Beta Release 1.4 -- and when the players began playing that release, between April 1 and April 5 there was a small chance that any world that was created would contain randomly placed chest in the Overworld that actually glowed in the dark!
These special chests were indestructible -- either by hand or with a tool -- though they could be removed through explosion (TNT and Creeper destruction worked) which had a small chance of dropping the chest on the ground as an item that the player could then pick up... Not only that, when they were clicked upon a sign would pop up telling the gamer that the chest requires a key to open -- and then provided a link to the Minecraft Store.
If the player visited the store they would find that among the pages at the store were twelve listings that were temporarily "available" that were associated with the appearance of the crate in the game:
-- Coming Soon ($7)
-- Coming Soon ($75)
-- Coming Soon ($1,449)
-- Creeper Saddle ($42)
-- Enlargement Pill ($2)
-- Miner's Helmet ($21)
-- Name Change ($99)
-- Regular Padlock ($8)
-- Response From Support ($494)
-- Secret Griefer Identity ($155)
-- Steve Co. Supply Crate Key ($3)
-- Steve Co. Supply Crate Key 5-Pack ($18)
The three items listed as "Coming Soon" were listed just like that, with the prices, but never explained.
When opened each chest emitted a massive burst of bright light (at light level 15) -- and no, you cannot get these chests now, and even if you could, you cannot open them... But opening them is not really the point, the point is that what made this April Fool joke funny was not that the chest required a key, or was indestructible, but rather it was funny because it was a tongue-in-cheek homage (rooted in sarcasm) to the game Team Fortress 2 -- in which a world item called the "Mann Co. Supply Crate" could be found that actually required the player to purchase a key from its in-game store (appropriately known as the Mann Co. Store) for $2.49 -- in real money.
Team Fortress 2 is a team-based multi-player First Person Shooter from Valve Software that is part of The Orange Box game bundle () whose basic revenue model follows the in-game store micro-transaction system that is currently wicked popular in the Free-2-Play game scene... But when it was implemented in TF2 as part of the game's Mann Company Update in September 2010 it was not the well-known and accepted revenue system that it is today -- with the update allowing players to purchase any of over 80 game content items (in-game items such as hats, weapons, and action items) using money stored in their Steam Wallet as payment.
Items purchased in the store could not be traded to other players (or crafted) and that, combined with the rather novel approach for a game that the players actually paid for, served as the source for significant criticism, with many gamers in the community feeling that it was too commercial a gesture and characterizing the developers as being money-hungry and charging for items that should be available in the game for free... To be fair we should point out that creators of community-contributed content and in-game items did receive a percentage of the money collected in sales for the items that they created... Partly in reaction to the criticism that Valve received they changed the policy on Store items, with the "Manniversary" Update & Sale changing the rules in the game so that any weapons or hats that were previously purchased from the store can be traded; items purchased after that update could be immediately traded...
While the crates were a very extensive and well-planned joke -- the "in-game store" was only created to support that joke -- in the end in addition to being funny it also served as commentary on the trend that was developing in the online game world for squeezing every penny that could be had from each player...
Ironically a small segment of the game community did not get the joke and, what is worse, over-reacted to the placement of the crates and the make-believe in-game store to blast Notch as a sell-out, bemoaning the fact that "their game" had been ruined by his greed. More than a few actually wrote manifestos on their personal blogs declaring the "utter wrongness" of this commercial betrayal... You would think that the fact that the day was April 1st would be enough of a clue, and of not, there was always the fact that the "in-game" store did not actually allow you to buy anything with real world money, so did that help them to understand it was a joke? Well, no... Not so much...
On April 2nd (the day following April Fools), the store display was changed to show a multi-colored banner declaring that it was an April Fool joke -- the display of the banner included the a midi version of singer Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" (Google the phrase "Rick-Roll" or "Rickrolling" to learn why that is funny if you do not already know).