AR Mobile Game ‘Minecraft Earth’ Coming in Beta this Summer, Could be Next ‘Pokémon Go’
Microsoft has revealed its new augmented reality mobile game ‘Minecraft Earth’ which will be launching in both Android and iOS in Beta this summer. The game is an AR version of the original Minecraft, leveraging on the augmented reality technology to overlay virtual Minecraft blocks onto the real-world. Just like the hit game Pokémon Go, Minecraft Earth will require players to venture outside and collect the resources that they will utilize for building and to also see other augmented worlds that have been created by their friends in the neighborhood.
If Minecraft Earth becomes a big hit like its Pokémon Go predecessor,it will result in a sprawling creation of augmented worlds in the outdoors. Everywhere you look will have its own spectacular augmented civilizations ranging from virtual trees on the lawns to life-sized castles sticking through houses or even elaborate cave systems that may be hidden under your local park.
Minecraft Earth will be a free-to-play version of Minecraft and has been developed around augmented reality for both iPhone and Android devices. The AR game will also rely on the user’s smartphone to peek into the virtual world. Users will be able to use the app to build very detailed augmented creations that everyone will be able to see.
The confluence of enabling innovations in AR hardware and other spheres has made it possible to take digital entertainment to the next level and create new groundbreaking experiences. Greater hardware innovation and the resulting miniaturization means that many of us are literally carrying little supercomputers in our palms that come packed with powerful cameras and the computing power that helps facilitate advanced computing applications.
Experiences such as Minecraft Earth have been possible due to various other kinds of advancements. These include Microsoft’s pervasive Azure datacenter presence around the world along with massive investments by some of the top tech players in augmented reality technology. There has also been improvements in the GPS capabilities as well as the faster network speeds that will become possible thanks to the upcoming rollout of 5G networks around the world. The potential success of the Minecraft Earth augmented reality block building game will also be possible because of the wide popularity of Minecraft around the world which is already a well-known item.
The AR mobile game will be an adaptation of the original Minecraft rather a direct translation into augmented reality. The Minecraft Earth AR game will also include such known items as the redstone and the typical water physics in Minecraft. However, the developers have revamped the controls in the game for the new augmented reality experience.
Minecraft Earth “covered the entire planet”. Players will find places such as lakes where they can fish and parks where they will be able to chop trees to harvest wood. There are “tapables” randomly positioned around the world that will dispense the building rewards and much more. These are similar to the Pokéstops found in the Pokémon Go game.
Microsoft also used maps in Minecraft Earth game which are based on the OpenStreetMap data in placing randomly-generated adventures around the world. These can serve as peaceful interludes or risky quests where the player can have the chance to lose their gear to the many monsters in Minecraft.
The adventures are built such that multiple people can play simultaneously in a playing setting where all the players will be able to experience the game within the same spot simultaneously, battle the same monsters and dismantle the same structures. A player can even step in front of a friend and prevent them from killing a virtual sheep in Minecraft.
The AR mobile game offers more than just the building of miniature augmented worlds. Players will even be able to walk into the life-sized versions of their creations. Several adventures will be popping out of these creations all over the world which will provide players with rewards such as rare blocks, treasure and even brave adventurers.
Minecraft Earth is just like the Minecraft that we’ve played for years. Players still have to spend much of their time hunting for resources, exploring new locations for treasure and building anything they wish to. The main difference with the AR version is that players will be interacting with the real world onto which the computer-generated images are projected. According to Minecraft game director Torfi Olafsson, the new AR game will also be more welcoming to new players. The original game was more challenging, forcing new players to work out everything by themselves.
Minecraft Earth will be launching this summer in closed beta but the developers haven’t specified how many players they will grant access during this early launch. The company also hasn’t finalized on the monetization of the game. The demo version of the game included a marketplace section where players will likely be purchasing avatar gear and building materials.
There will be limited slots for the closed Beta and players must be aged over 18 to sign up for the launch. The rollout will also be in select locations although Microsoft plans to take the game global. Additionally, it’s reasonable to expect that the game will offer support for multiple languages.
Minecraft Earth offers lots of potential, even for those who are not fans of the game. It will be the first title ever to fully leverage augmented reality in building a new layer of reality throughout the world. The game won’t be available on the HoloLens 2 and it would probably take many years before we even have mass augmented reality headsets. However, when such a time arrives, users will find ready an exciting game that fully leverages the potential of augmented reality.