The release of Mojang‘s Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition this past week has been met mostly with positive reviews from the press and gamers alike, not to mention stellar sales on the Xbox Live Arcade. However, the mostly calm waters are already starting to see a few ripples, as some gamers have been unable to take advantage of a key component of the game: the split-screen multiplayer. Some of those affected are also crying foul over Microsoft’s refusal to issue full refunds, compounding their frustrations.

The issue specifically affects those without high-definition television sets, as HD video is required to take advantage of the split-screen multiplayer. This means that players using CRT or any non-HD enabled television can only play single-player and the online multiplayer, both of which are unaffected by this restriction. Given that games with more advanced graphics and gameplay engines can run perfectly fine in split-screen on older televisions sets, it seems rather strange that the Minecraft experience would be hampered like this.

RipTen reached out for comment and a Microsoft spokesperson had the following to say:

“We’re still working on this issue, but what we can tell you is, in order to deliver the best consumer experience, and to support the text needs of the inventory and crafting system, split-screen multiplayer in “Minecraft” does require an HD screen. Currently, in game prompts alert players of the HD requirements for split-screen multiplayer.”

It is true that the game does give notifications in game that an HDTV is required for the split-screen to work, however there are no notices on Xbox Live Arcade nor are people advised of this prior to purchasing the game. This had led to some understandable backlash from those who have been left in the weeds, especially since Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is more expensive than the average XBLA title, costing 1600 Microsoft Points as opposed to the typical 800 to 1200.
In a thread on a popular Minecraft forum,, some players have suggested workarounds for those who lack the ability to connect with HDMI, including owners of first-generation Xbox 360 consoles. Using HD component cables and tweaking your system settings to HD might help you get around this issue, however it is not a tried or tested method, and there is no guarantee it will work. Perusing the forum also gives you an idea of what gamers think of this issue, with some saying they feel “cheated,” with other threads pointing out bugs, glitches and gameplay oddities they have found. Leave it to the Minecraft community to keep gamers in the know.
So what if you want a full refund? Microsoft typically will not refund points if the game is otherwise playable, meaning that the in-game prompts are considered enough warning to not merit a refund. At most, those who push hard enough might get a partial refund, but this is totally at the discretion of Microsoft. It is also not known at this time if a patch is planned to fix this problem, so take this article a pre-purchase warning that an HDTV is a definite requirement for the split-screen multiplayer component.