It is a sad time, but not a wholely unexpected one. Starting next year, a Microsoft account will be required to play Minecraft.
I started playing Minecraft in 2011, when I was but a wee lad. Back then, I had no awareness of the nuances of distributing media, including video games, digitally. I never thought about my future ability to play Minecraft. I suppose that I thought it was implicit that I would have indefinite access to the game, given that my copy had been paid for.
Of course things changed a few years later. In order to play Minecraft, you now needed a Mojang account. I migrated my Minecraft Premium account over to Mojang account without giving it a second thought. Just like before, I would only ever have to interact directly with Mojang, without a middleman. What is surprising is that to this day, the form to migrate an account is still available. It seems therefore that people who never migrated their account are still able to play Minecraft.
This time is different. For one, if you don't migrate your account, you can no longer play Minecraft. And this wouldn't be an issue for me if the migration were internal to Mojang, like last time. My problem with this is that it is a Microsoft account. Even when I ran Windows on my computer, I deliberately avoided creating a Microsoft account, because I had nothing to gain, and privacy to lose. Since you cannot see the source code for Windows, there was the potential that every single mouse click and key press that I made would not only be sent to Microsoft, but with a Microsoft account associated with my name. Even without running Windows, a Microsoft account is harmful to privacy. Reading Microsoft's "Privacy Statement" , we see that there are very few restrictions on how data can be used inside Microsoft, and notably that it can be used to target advertising. Any Microsoft employee with sufficient access could see anything about anyone provided it is for "research". While I'm sure something similar is currently possible with Mojang accounts, it is simply not on the same scale given the number of users and variety of services that Microsoft provides. Instead of hedging account security in case of a security issue, they are putting all of their eggs in one basket by unnecessarily moving products to the same account system.
The issue of moving goalposts to restrict access to media is not unique to Microsoft. For years there have been complaints about Amazon disallowing access to Kindle books that people bought , and recently we see them arguing that movies bought on Prime Video are not actually owned. It is a sobering reminder that unless you have content in a file on a hard drive that you have physical access to, you don't actually own the content. It could disappear without a trace at any time, due to reasons beyond your control.
(Hilariously enough, for a game like Minecraft, it is possible to have the game on a physical hard drive that you control, but still not be able to play because you cannot log in.)
Partially as a protest to these content restrictions, and partially because I don't really play Minecraft anymore, I have decided that it is in my best interest to just not migrate my account. While this will likely permanently lose me access to the game, the value that I have gotten out of Minecraft over the years has far exceeded the $26 that (my dad) paid for it almost 10 years ago. I will use the two remaining months to squeeze out the last bit of juice, relive the Golden Age of Minecraft, and hold out hope for a class-action lawsuit.