'Minecraft Earth' Mobile AR Game to Shut Down Later This Year

Microsoft says it is shutting down augmented reality game "Minecraft Earth" in June 2021 due to the restricted movement and lack of social mingling brought about by the global health crisis.

minecraft earth
First demoed at WWDC 2019 before launching in November the same year, "Minecraft Earth" gained plaudits for its use of AR to superimpose the game's collaborative creations onto the real world.

On Tuesday, however, Microsoft announced on its blog that the game will be discontinued on June 30 as the company re-allocates its resources "to other areas that provide value to the Minecraft community," given the present global situation.

Minecraft Earth was designed around free movement and collaborative play – two things that have become near impossible in the current global situation. As a result, we have made the difficult decision to re-allocate our resources to other areas that provide value to the Minecraft community and to end support for Minecraft Earth in June 2021.

Despite the decision, Microsoft released one final update to "Minecraft Earth" on Tuesday that includes changes and improvements to make players' remaining time in the game "as fun as possible." Amongst other things, the update removes real-money transactions, reduces ruby costs and time requirements for crafting and smelting, and grants a set of character creator items to players who sign in between now and June 30.

In addition, players with paid ruby balances will be granted Minecoins, which can be used on the Minecraft Marketplace to purchase skin and texture packs, maps, and minigames. Anyone who has ever made a purchase in "Minecraft Earth" will also receive a free copy of "Minecraft" (the Bedrock version), according to Microsoft.

Microsoft signed off the blog by thanking all the players and creators that contributed to the "Minecraft Earth" community during its lifespan:

Your feedback and creations brought this game to an entirely different level, from the regular build challenges you absolutely smashed to the incredible builds you shared on social media. We're eternally grateful for the amazing talent in the Minecraft community. This was not an easy decision, and we're doing everything we can to make sure you get the most out of Minecraft Earth before it sunsets.

"Minecraft Earth" is a free download for iPhone and iPad on the App Store [Direct Link].

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Top Rated Comments

ksec Avatar
44 months ago
Is it really the movement or social distancing restriction?

Or AR hasn't exactly work as planned?
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Makosuke Avatar
44 months ago
If the product had potential and really was just hamstrung by the pandemic, it seems really odd to be cancelling it in June 2021, which should be right around when things are starting to get back to normal in the world. Seems kind of like releasing a new parka in the summer, being disappointed in the sales and taking it off the market in November.

I get that big-company cost-benefit decisions can seem counterintuitive but actually make sense, but if you had any faith at all in the product succeeding, why wouldn't you give it another 6 months post-pandemic to find out? If anything, people are going to be desperate to get out of their houses at that point, so an outdoor AR game should have a major advantage over something that'll have you glued to the couch.

The alternative explanation, of course, is that it was never going to succeed and blaming it on the pandemic sounds better than saying "Nobody bought the thing, so we're killing it."
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
itsmeaustend Avatar
44 months ago
This makes 0 sense. I feel like Microsoft is hiding under the guise of the pandemic to avoid any fallout.

It’s a shame. Seemed to have so much potential when the demo was revealed at WWDC.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gammamonk Avatar
44 months ago
I tried the game a couple times, at beta release and then once this past summer. It's just a bad game.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
44 months ago
Didn’t even know this existed and I also still think AR is just a nice gimmick with the excitement wearing off after a few minutes. Just look at Pokémon GO, didn’t know anyone who used it in AR mode after the initial launch. happy to be proven wrong in the future. 3D anyone?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
projectle Avatar
44 months ago
The game absolutely required you to work with people because getting blocks was rare. You would then trade blocks with people to get what you wanted to build something. And then had to contend with random people coming along and stealing your blocks / griefing you.

Made it hard to want to keep playing when an actual week of effort was stolen by someone who just wanted the blocks to build something else.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)