Microsoft's big experiment in real-world augmented reality gaming, Minecraft Earth, is live now for players in North America, the U.K., and a number of other areas. The pocket-size AR game lets you collect blocks and critters wherever you go, undertake little adventures with friends, and of course build sweet castles. I played an early version of Minecraft Earth earlier this year, and found it entertaining and the AR aspect surprisingly seamless. The gameplay many were first introduced to in Pokemon GO is adapted here in a more creative and collaborative way. You still walk around your neighborhood, rendered in this case charmingly like a Minecraft world, and tap little icons that pop up around your character.
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.
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.
Minecraft is getting an artificial intelligence assistant, with Facebook and MIT working on the project. The goal is to develop an AI system that can multitask well instead of being "superhuman" at just one activity, MIT Technology Review said Thursday in a blog post. Minecraft has over 90 million monthly players and just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Also coming soon is Minecraft Earth, a Pokemon Go-style AR mobile game, which is now in beta on iOS and Android. Minecraft developer Mojang was bought by Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014.
Six of us are huddled together in Cavendish Square Gardens in central London, fighting a horde of warrior skeletons. To passersby, however, we must look like a bunch of adults pointing our smartphones at nothing while shouting about incoming monsters. What we're doing is playing a beta version of Minecraft Earth, an augmented reality (AR) spinoff from the multimillion-selling block-building game – and very soon, parks all over the world will be filled with people just like us. This month, Minecraft is launching an early-access version of the game in a select few territories around the world, ahead of a global roll-out. Microsoft has yet to reveal exactly when and where, but soon thousands of fans used to playing on their console, PC or tablet, are going to be taking their creations to the streets.