Microsoft today announced "Minecraft Earth," a new game coming to iOS and Android in beta this summer that uses augmented reality to place virtual Minecraft blocks and characters into the real world. Similar to Pokémon Go, Minecraft World requires players to venture outside to collect resources for building and to see what their friends have created around the neighborhood.

minecraft earth
Game director Torfi Olafsson described the mobile game as an adaptation of Minecraft, and not a direct translation. Minecraft Earth will feature well-known items like redstone and typical Minecraft water physics, but the controls have been revamped for the new AR experience.

According to Olafsson, the development team "covered the entire planet in Minecraft," meaning that places like lakes are locations you can fish and parks are great for chopping down trees for wood. Players will find "tapables" randomly placed around the world, which dispense building rewards and more, similar to Pokéstops in Pokémon Go.

Microsoft used maps based on OpenStreeMap data to place randomly generated "adventures" in the world. These can be peaceful interludes or dangerous risk-taking quests where you have the chance to lose your gear to Minecraft's many monsters.


Adventures are built for multiple people to play at once, and all players experience the same game on the exact same spot simultaneously, so they can fight the same monsters, break down the same structures, "and even stand in front of a friend to block them from physically killing a virtual sheep," reported The Verge.

I sat for around 10 minutes creating a Minecraft build where I could see blocks flying onto the structure from someone next to me. They could also see everything I was doing in real time, and we could build together block by block. I could, if I wanted to, also steal my friend’s blocks here to create my own mega building. That introduces an interesting social dynamic because, unlike most games, you’ll be physically next to the person you’re stealing from in the virtual world.

“In order to steal, you would have to look up and go, ‘Hmm, I’m going to take your blocks,’” says Saxs Persson, creative director of Minecraft. “Shenanigans will come from when people have different opinions about what needs to happen, or they band together and do something meaningful.”

Microsoft says that Minecraft Earth will launch in a closed beta this summer, but it's not clear how many players will gain access at that launch. Monetization also hasn't been finalized yet, but Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty said, "I have total confidence that the team will figure out what the right monetization is for the game." In the demo seen by reporters, a marketplace section was spotted where players will likely be able to buy various building items and avatar gear.

minecraft earth 2
The Verge predicted that we might see more of Minecraft Earth at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in June. Demos for the game were showcased on the iPhone XS, and the site called Minecraft Earth "the best demonstration of augmented reality on an iPhone" it's ever seen. Apple usually showcases ARKit-related apps and software at WWDC, last year demonstrating ARKit 2 through the LEGO Playgrounds game.

Top Rated Comments

Amacfa Avatar
24 months ago
Wow.

Just imagine some CAD software and a team of engineers in the same room designing stuff with AR glasses.

Or maybe ATC’s who can see aircraft in a 3D airspace.

This is the future of not only convenience, but development. Be it Microsoft, Apple, or Google.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
randyhudson Avatar
24 months ago
How long until a player walks into a car, gets stuck in a cave, or has a fight in the real world over virtual blocks?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ThatGuyInLa Avatar
24 months ago
Wow.

Just imagine some CAD software and a team of engineers in the same room designing stuff with AR glasses.

Or maybe ATC’s who can see aircraft in a 3D airspace.

This is the future of not only convenience, but development. Be it Microsoft, Apple, or Google.
Prototypes of these are already in place. The current hurdle is FoV of the glasses.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
barkomatic Avatar
24 months ago
I'm still waiting for a must have AR app. This is a cute novelty.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ThunderSkunk Avatar
24 months ago
“meaning that places like lakes are locations you can fish and parks are great for chopping down trees for wood.”

For a moment, I envisioned a hundred million kids with a motivation to run out to every park in the country and actually chop down all the trees. Making a version or update of a massive game where a plausible narrative & role are offered & AR rewards could be had for real world actions, would be an interesting way of enlisting a huge number of arms and legs to run out into the world and cause some real meaningful damage.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Vjosullivan Avatar
24 months ago
Augmented reality will take off when there are lightweight glasses available with good battery life.
Or when someone creates something genuinely fun or useful.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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