Back in 2016, Pokémon Go stole gamers’ attention by finally letting them capture pokémon in the real world. Creators did this using augmented reality to place the game’s creatures into the actual environment for gamers to find via their mobile phones as a looking glass. The game was so popular it had 20 million people searching for pokémon worldwide.
Now Minecraft, a 10-year-old game with more than 90 million active monthly users, is attempting to copy the augmented reality concept — and to take it one giant leap further with its new game, Minecraft Earth.
The Minecraft Concept
Minecraft focuses on creating a virtual world out of blocks that you and your friends can explore. Though a game by several definitions, there is no winning or losing in Minecraft. In fact, there are no rules. Once you start building, you and your friends are free to do what you want when you want. Nearly every block in the world of Minecraft can be mined and broken down so that you can reuse the materials to make new items.
Though a simplistic concept, gamers love it, which is why there has never been a new version. It’s never needed one. In the decade since its release, the company has sold 176 million copies and continues to generate new users every year. So why has Microsoft decided to launch Minecraft Earth, and even partnered with companies like Apple to promote it?
Breaking the Dogma Surrounding Gaming
Alex Kipman, the creator of Microsoft’s Kinect and HoloLens, explained to The Verge, “Minecraft Earth proposes to completely break the dogma that has lived with us in computing since the beginning: this idea of a single person that holds a single device to create a single experience. With Minecraft Earth, that’s no longer the case. The content is in the real world.”
Like with Pokémon Go, users will be able to see the game’s creations out in the real world. However, Minecraft Earth takes the augmented reality concept to the next level in that it invites collaboration and encourages shared experiences.
When the game becomes available later this summer, Android and iOS users will be able to construct a “build” — the game’s terminology for its virtual environments— anywhere they want. They can construct on the floor, a tabletop, out in the park and, better yet, they can even invite their friends to help. When they’re done, they can make their creations life-sized and drop them anywhere in the world (anywhere, that is, that is not private property) and explore them along with other users in the area.
Though Minecraft is not a points-based game, users can “level up” and collect rewards, which allow them to get more resources and materials to make their creations even more impressive. Users can also look for nearby “tapables,” which are the game’s equivalent of pokéstops, to earn rewards. These tapables mimic the real world, explains Torfi Olafsson, the director of Minecraft Earth.
“We have covered the entire planet in Minecraft,” Olafsson tells The Verge. “Every lake is a place you can fish, every park is a place you can chop down trees. We’ve actually taken maps of the entire world and converted them to Minecraft.”
Minecraft Earth Vs Pokemon Go: Are the Two Comparable?
Though the team behind Minecraft Earth has high hopes for the new game, some fans have a hard time comparing the two.
“In my opinion, the only similarity between Pokémon Go and Minecraft Earth is that they use augmented location-based VR,” Max Chekalov, Content Developer at Appgeeks.org, tells Parentology. “They are both different games and it’s still too early to predict if Minecraft will cause people to fall into swimming pools and lakes while playing.”
Chekalov also expresses his concern that users will still continue to play Minecraft Earth from the comfort of their own homes. “Minecraft Earth … can be played from your living room since the blocks spawn anywhere. Pokémon Go actually needs you to go outside and explore if you want to find rare creatures to capture.”
He does concede, however, that Minecraft Earth does require more creativity and collaboration and that, for the right people, it will encourage them to get outside and explore.