Tech

Microsoft stops Minecraft Earth – because of Covids

Microsoft is discontinuing Minecraft Earth after less than two years. The company had big plans for the augmented reality (AR) game. Released from autumn 2019, Minecraft Earth should be an alternative to the then most popular AR game Pokémon Go. On Tuesday, the Minecraft team announced the end.

On June 30, Microsoft will officially end support for Minecraft Earth; from July onwards, the game cannot be downloaded or played. Then all player data will also be deleted. Both the Android and iOS versions are affected.

The reason for the discontinuation of Minecraft Earth is that the game is designed to move freely in the world and to play together. The Minecraft team notes that this is almost impossible worldwide during the coronavirus pandemic. That is why Microsoft would rather use its resources elsewhere.

Before that happens, Microsoft will once again provide a new – and final – version of Minecraft Earth. All real money transactions are removed and the costs for game elements that are paid for with virtual rubies and construction times are significantly reduced. This should make crafting and building easier and safer from home.

There are also some new, previously unreleased game components. Players who are just now registering should get some extra elements for their game character to get started and for their limited playing time.

Anyone who has already invested real money as a Minecraft Earth player will get their virtual rubies back as so-called Minecoins. Microsoft accepts these in the Minecraft Marketplace, for example for other Minecraft versions or mini-games. In addition, players who previously made a purchase in Minecraft Earth will receive a free copy of the “Bedrock Edition” Minecrafts.

Minecraft Earth has been available in Germany since November 2019 and is based on other augmented reality titles such as Pokémon Go, but takes this technology much more seriously. While the AR functionality in Pokémon Go is just a gimmick that most players never or only briefly activate, Minecraft Earth cannot be played without an activated smartphone camera.


The environment reflects Minecraft Earth well despite the blocky look: Buildings are raised, streets and footpaths are distinguishable. (Image: Immo Junghärtchen / heise online)

Minecraft Earth depicts the world in its familiar block optics based on the Open Street map. Real buildings are marked by slight elevations in the game world. In addition, there are actual AR elements such as a construction mode, in which players with activated cell phone cameras can place blocks and creatures on a flat surface such as a table. In this way, buildings and landscapes can be built on a smaller scale, which seem to fit into the real world.

The Minecraft team thanks at the end by all players and the Minecraft community. The termination of Minecraft Earth was not an easy decision. The operator hopes that players will get the most out of the final version.


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