Microsoft and Mojang today celebrated Minecraft’s 10th anniversary by announcing Minecraft Earth, a mobile AR game that allows players to build familiar Minecraft structures on top of their real-world surroundings, and opening sign-ups for a limited beta release on Android and the iPhone.
Minecraft Earth appears to focus on four types of gameplay: collecting, exploring, collaborating, and surviving. This is the essence of the base game, too, with the appeal of the mobile AR version being that everything takes place in the real world rather than the virtual confines of a Minecraft server.
Microsoft and Mojang clearly took inspiration from Pokemon Go. (And not just when it comes to bringing a popular game world into the real one—that’s a gimme.) The most obvious influence: A player’s location—along with specific in-game events—will determine what they find in Minecraft Earth.
That setup encourages people to play Minecraft Earth whenever they visit somewhere new, when they’re somewhere that has a specific resource they want, or when they’re around other players. Pokemon Go used similar mechanisms to become nearly ubiquitous when it was at the height of its popularity.
It’s not clear how Microsoft and Mojang plan to monetize Minecraft Earth. Pokemon Go was estimated to have made $1.8 billion in revenue between 2016 and 2018 by selling passes for special events and certain in-game items. But it’s possible that Minecraft Earth will have an up-front cost instead.
Minecraft Earth has a dedicated website as well as a sign-up page where hopeful players can attempt to gain access to the beta release. Everyone who signs up will also be given a limited edition skin for Minecraft Earth and Minecraft Bedrock.