UCraft has had a mixed history to date, as it's a project with bold ambition that's also endured a failed Kickstarter campaign and a move to PC that ended its planned exclusivity to Wii U. It's endured its share of criticism, as a result.
The aspirational feature-set is still front and centre of the developer's message, however, as there's a continued emphasis on 16-player online play and the promise of a sizeable world to create and explore. The developer is also aiming to pave new ground with a beta on Wii U, a form of early release that's typically the preserve of PC gaming — for which a beta is targeting the end of the year. In a recent interview Randy Freer — who continues to act as a representative for Nexis Games — states that there'll be a download version of the game on the eShop before the full product is released.
A downloadable package will become available via Nintendo’s eShop accessible for all our enthusiastic gamers here on Nintendo, prior to UCraft’s Q2 2015 release accordingly.
To date there's never been a 'beta' on Wii U, though free-to-play is a model that's been used; it'll be interesting to see whether this goes through for UCraft. The same interview stresses that the PC beta will allow development to iron out issues and optimise for the Wii U release, with plenty of DLC and updates promised to arrive regularly once it hits Nintendo's console. Addressing the obvious comparison and 'competition' with Minecraft, meanwhile, Freer states — rather wordily — that it's not a direct contest.
UCraft aims to deliver an expanded and original experience collection, built with modern innovations streamlined and tailored to the unique underlying platform technology. In this aspect itself things quickly become apparent for many UCraft is not in shared competition with goods and services resulting from other titles in recent history. Future market share indications will prove both can maintain momentum without any generated disruption between.
As you can see in the trailer below there appears to be a siege mentality around the project due to the criticism it's received. It promises much, so we still need to wait and see whether it delivers.