Amid a slew of updates to iPhones, Macs and iPads, another tech giant took to the stage at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference to show off the latest version of Minecraft. Microsoft gave WWDC attendees a first look at the new Minecraft Earth augmented reality game, which takes after Pokémon Go to let users create immersive virtual environments in the real world. Thanks to Apple's ARKit, users can build 3D castles, fight off lifelike creepers that sneak up on them and feed virtual chickens through their iPhone. Microsoft first announced Minecraft Earth earlier this year, but the demo during WWDC on Monday marked the first in-depth look at the interactive game. Developers Lydia Winters and Saxs Persson from Mojang, Microsoft's game development studio, came onstage to show how Minecraft Earth works.
Be careful reading this post around any kids in your vicinity (or any constructive gamers, for that matter): as of today, it's now possible to play the official version of Minecraft in virtual reality. We've seen a few half-baked VR versions of the popular pixellated open-world building game, but those were just projects that were hacked together as demos and proofs-of-concept. Now Mojang, the gaming studio that makes Minecraft and which was purchased by Microsoft for 2.5 billion in 2014, has unveiled a version of its hit title specifically designed to work on Samsung's Gear VR headset. Except this version has been optimized to display correctly on the stereoscopic lenses of the Gear VR headset. Mojang says that a promised Oculus Rift version of its hit title is still on the way later this year.
When Microsoft bought Mojang, the makers of the insanely popular Minecraft, in a surprise 2.5 billion deal in September 2014, nobody knew what to think. The game seemed an odd fit for Microsoft, whose biggest moneymakers are its productivity software and Windows PC operating system. Minecraft's millions of players fretted that the game was destined to be ruined under its new corporate parent, or that Microsoft would restrict the game to its own Xbox and Windows platforms. Two years later, Minecraft is more popular and widely available than ever. Since the beginning of this year, Mojang says, people have bought 53,000 copies of Minecraft every single day.
Since its beta launch in 2009, the blocky, world-building adventure game Minecraft has been released on more than 20 different platforms, from PC to consoles to mobile phones, selling 176m copies. News of a Minecraft AR (augmented reality) app leaked a few weeks ago, but now Microsoft has officially announced Minecraft Earth. It is being developed at the company's Redmond campus, using an array of its mobile, GPS and tracking technologies. Minecraft Earth is best pictured as Pokémon Go with building blocks. When you enter the game, you see an overhead map of your surroundings (Microsoft is working with StreetMap), overlaid with the quaint blocky look of the Minecraft world.
The hit sandbox game Minecraft is officially headed to China. Microsoft announced Monday it has reached a five-year deal with Chinese tech company NetEase to host the popular game for PCs and mobile devices. The deal calls for studio Mojang to develop a version of the game for the Chinese audience. "We are excited to bring Minecraft to Chinese audiences, and expect our large online community to embrace this preeminent game," said NetEase CEO and founder William Ding in a statement. The sandbox-style video game launched in 2011, and allows players to gather resources and create elaborate structures.