Over 10 years, we’ve played the blocky game on desktop and mobile devices, on consoles and VR headsets, and even got excited about a promised Minecraft movie. But Minecraft Earth could represent the next big phase for the Minecraft, taking the crazy-popular lo-fi sandbox game off your computer screen and putting it in the real world, where you gather resources, encounter mobs, build structures and have adventures with friends and strangers, all on your phone.
Minecraft Earth is the latest attempt to transform gaming on mobile phones through AR. Mobile gaming will generate $68.5 billion by the end of 2019, making up 45% of the global games market, according to Newzoo. Augmented reality and virtual reality are pegged as the future of immersive gaming, and while they haven’t taken off yet, a growing audience of gamers is taking to the streets to play not just Pokemon Go and Ingress, but also Harry Potter Wizards Unite. (Consequently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks Facebook can save AR.)
Minecraft Earth takes the popular open-ended sandbox game and turns it an AR environment on your phone, much like Pokemon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite did for those franchises.
As you walk around using the game’s map, you find “tappables” — trees, treasure, chests, chickens and other familiar Minecraft objects – that you tap to gather items to keep in your inventory. You can also build models of structures and then place them in the real world at full scale to explore by yourself or with friends. Each full-scale block is 1 meter high, and structures you deploy can be 256 blocks high, Microsoft said, so for big projects, you’ll need some open space.
Minecraft Earth (essentially just Pokémon Go, but Minecraft) was first revealed in May 2018, and following its beta, it’s been slowly rolling out in early access across the world, first hitting countries like Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the UK, and other countries. Now, it’s available in early access in the US, UK and Australia, and you can download it for iOS and Android.
The app works when downloaded for iOS and Android, but there are, of course, a few steps you have to go through before you can fully start playing. You start by signing in with your own Microsoft account, accepting the Terms of Service (which ask you not to trespass or operate a vehicle while you’re playing the game), picking how your character will look, and then going through a brief tutorial.
Currently, there’s a list of all the countries you can play the game in right now. If you don’t see yours here yet, developer Mojang says the game will be available worldwide by the end of the year: