Question only for those who prefer playing with mods: what version do you play the most? 1.19 is already coming out but I believe a lot of people still stick to 1.12.2 or even 1.7.10, becase they have a plenty of great mods.
I'm a retired AF Veteran (20 years, 2 months, and 27 days not that I kept track). I was an Aircraft Instrument Technician and actually repaired C130A, F4 C, D, E, G, and RF aircraft. AT38B and KC135 aircraft. I enjoyed keeping aircraft airworthy or I wouldn't have done it for more than 20 years.
I've looked at my MC history and it appears 1.0.0 was the first MC series I played.
As MC has aged so has the trend toward combat craft.
I got my fill of killing (real or imaginary) while in the AF!
I have not played any MC game beyond 1.12.2 and do not anticipate EVER doing so.
I enjoy the mods that I currently use with 1.12.2. Even that version is limited because some Mods I like using stopped updating mid 1.12.2.
According to this Reddit thread 1.16 has the most mods, followed by 1.12, with 1.7.10 far behind, although this was based on mods on CurseForge, which only got started around the time 1.7.10 was released so mods for it and especially older versions are underrepresented (prior to then many modders used the forums, as I did/still do), but 1.7.10 is rarely mentioned anymore on the FTB Reddit (recent posts with a version mention 1.18, 1.16, and 1.12, mostly the former two):
AS far as servers go, the most popular version is always the latest version by a large margin; at the moment there are 3318 active servers on 1.18, 326 on 1.12, and 94 on 1.7; however, they do not have a breakdown of vanilla vs modded, and this may not track every server, only bigger ones (I'd think there would be more than 5599 servers online for a game with over 100 million active players), but such large ratios are suggestive, and the differences between older versions would be more highly correlated with mod popularity as that is the main reason older versions are still played (aside from 1.9 combat, but 1.8 only has 74 servers left so it is hardly that controversial of an issue anymore, plus plugins/mods or even commands can fix that):
As for myself, I still exclusively play on and develop my own mods for 1.6.4, or as I think of it, my own modded versions completely independent from vanilla (in particular, TheMasterCaver's World, which is best categorized as an "alternative development path" / "alternative reality" mod which are treated as unofficial updates to the game since the version they mod, which is often very old - some people even still develop such mods for Alpha and Beta versions), more than 8 years after the release of 1.7 (I started playing on 1.5.1, a couple months past 9 years ago and 1.5 and 1.6 are the only vanilla versions I've ever played on).
stuff like this is always subjective and most are going to say 1.12 is probably the "best" version.
Although real vets consider 1.7.10 as the quintessential version for modded Minecraft simply because it houses majority of the mods that are considered as grandfather mods. It is also the version which has the most integration between mods and it is also the version that contains mods that pioneered many of the systems we see today and it is the version that has the most saturation of all the popular mods in one place.
Realistically its only missing Redpower 2 and its basically got all the great grandfather mods in it, there is a few others that got left in 1.4 too but i cannot think of them atm and 1.5 to 1.6 were meh not missing much.
I would say that 1.7.10 still holds its relevance today simply because of what happened when 1.8 came out which in turn caused many of the modders to quit their mods and others took a long time to update. This is a big reason why many still play 1.7 I still really only play 1.7.10 and nothing else, have never really left this version because all the mods i care about are stuck here.
The next version is 1.12 it took a lot of time to get it to where it is currently in terms of mod compatibility and saturation of mods plus many of the older mods have been ported but there is still many that are not, i still have not played this version extensively because everything i care about is in 1.7 so i cannot really speak but i have played some of it in the past.
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''If you don't dig straight down in Minecraft then you're doing it wrong.''
My predictions and experience/observations would be.
Beta 1.7.3 and 1.2.5 for old versions (I enjoy them for the older feel of the games not just because of the mods but yes the big deal mods are a reason I pick them but with Cursed Fabric that's not the case compared to say 1.2.5 Forge where I want to play the big mods with it or whatever I can still fin). There is a sizeable community of old players and devs that love the old era a fair bit but niche of course.
1.8.9 may be for PVP of course but otherwise I don't see why else people do so I don't think people really care for it that much outside that so I don't see it having that much higher popularity (other than memory limitations like how I couldn't play 1.10.2 until I upgraded my hardware).
For survival mods maybe but I treat it like 1.7.10 or 1.12.2 for variety of big and small mods. But it's usually PVP and people using mods with PVP as assists (besides those that do for cheating). That and I agree 1.12.2 did take time for people to give it the support it has today. I almost wanted to give up 1.12.2 and I hated 1.7.2 when it released and wanted to stay on 1.6.4, I hate the biomes and I didn't care for the 1.16 Nether update either let alone the 1.18 (was ready by 20w14a before 20w15a removed it to an experimental datapack and whatever other changes before 1.18 was ready).
Latest it depends. Obviously people upgrade for the new features Mojang provides besides Realms and I guess security.
Older versions like 1.7.10 and 1.12.2 had Mod API changes that annoyed many mod devs with how Forge changed dramatically both times so people ignored 1.8 (I played many of the niche mods in wait for the big ones but enjoyed the smaller ones or alternatives more than the big ones and that continues today) and Mod Devs were just as frustrated with 1.13.2 Forge (hence Fabric and Rift exist now) besides what Mojang did to both 1.13.2 (the command and other underneath stuff which they wanted for 1.14 but changed their mind) and I assume similar with 1.8.
Those changes by Mojang for those versions also meant like I noticed with 1.10.2 (one of my favourite versions over 1.12.2) is that the memory increase and bad coding on their part also stopped people from playing on newer versions or the Java requirement (like 1.17 you need Java 16, I had to find a JDK besides my studying of Java programming but most people aren't going to look for a JDK to upgrade Minecraft as you shouldn't have to). I couldn't play 1.10.2 modded with an older piece of hardware. No problem now but some people don't upgrade their devices unless they need to and Minecraft should be the case as many with expertise in this can prove it. Many people stay on 1.7.10 and 1.12.2 not just because the mods are there and the perfection of those iterations of content in them than the changes in 1.10.2 or 1.12.2 versions or lack of besides changes in the latest versions ones (1.14.4+).
1.12.2 or 1.7.10 though for modded for sure if general as I see many post comments about a 1.12.2 or 1.7.10 version (I reviewed many mods for all versions old and new though so saw it a lot and the new mods for those older versions as I enjoyed doing that).
I don't care for those versions for the BIG mods (I know most do of course). I cared about 1.7.10 for Cogs of the Machine or Fusion Warfare. For 1.12.2 I cared for LightningCraft and Omega Craft alongside those mods smaller ones that assisted/tweaked the game besides how I used commands to make the game my own. So I can't say for everybody (besides the general way it is clear big mods are used). But the main audience is on latest, older are because favourite mods and otherwise PVP feel or hardware limitations. Like I could get by on Criss Cross on 1.8.9 if I wanted as a vanilla machine mod.
The latest versions do have the most mods and have surpassed other versions. I saw the new mods were on 1.7.10 to 1.12.2 and it was clear how infrequent on Curseforge new ones popped up as I did videos on them and watched them often for a time.
Otherwise what MasterCaver said of stats makes more sense. Of course I am just generalising by what I see on a general level.
For myself as you can tell by my 1.7.10/1.12.2 preferred mods I stick to tech mods and tweaks (most of the time) but otherwise I play anything but usually 1.7.10, 1.8.9 and 1.12.2, 1.9/1.9.4/1.10.2/1.11.2 a fair amount. 1.2.5 sometimes and if it were for Legacy/Cursed Fabric I cover as much as I do in wikis and videos then Beta 1.7.3 and 1.8.9 even though Legacy Fabric has expanded over time to more versions I haven't bothered to play them just make wikis on them based on the descriptions.
Everyone abouve my post seens to have more experience about minecrafts history then i have.
I have startet playing vanilla 1.13 till 1.16.5 & ended up in modded minecraft for 1.12.2
I honestly can't say if it's the best version for modded stuff but imo i can't get anything i can't think off. It is actually rare to not find a mod that not does exactly what you need. I have even seen a backport mod of 1.16 contents to 1.12.2
Imo 1.12.2 is the new "potato meta".
I couldn't describe it better. If my pc could just keep up i probably wouldn't search throughout the dust of the ancient, allmost forgotten version of minecraft, which to my own surprise has an assload of modded content.
However there is a common state amoung modders:
-Let old versions die
It makes me nervous. BC My own Modpack is jet unfinished.