Throughout 2019, Microsoft experimented with building a real-world, augmented reality Minecraft game designed in the same vein as Pokémon GO. Called Minecraft Earth, they finally opened it up to everyone in November of 2019.
In just a few months, it’ll shut down and all player data will be deleted.
So what happened? Writes the Minecraft Earth team:
Minecraft Earth was designed around free movement and collaborative play – two things that have become near impossible in the current global situation. As a result, we have made the difficult decision to re-allocate our resources to other areas that provide value to the Minecraft community and to end support for Minecraft Earth in June 2021.
In other words: This game just isn’t going to work in a pandemic. Pokémon GO might be doing just fine thanks to a strong foundation of super-dedicated players and a steady stream of curious newcomers, but it’d be pretty damned hard to go from zero to 60 with a real-world game when everyone is supposed to be staying at home.
What happens next:
- The team is releasing one final patch that removes all in-app purchases and makes all in-game mechanics easier/faster to make the most of any remaining play time.
- On June 30th, the game shuts down. Even if you’ve got it installed already, it’ll stop working.
- On July 1st, they’re deleting all player data.
- Anyone who has spent any money in Minecraft Earth is getting a free copy of Minecraft Bedrock version, and players who have unused paid Minecraft Earth rubies will get an unspecified amount of Minecoins that’ll work in Minecraft-proper’s marketplace.
It’s a disappointing end to what was really a pretty cool concept — but if they’re announcing its shutdown barely a year after launch, the data probably suggest there’s not much else they can do.