Editorials Gaming Mobile

The Sun is Setting On the World of Minecraft Earth

Sunset is descending on the world of Minecraft Earth (ME). This free-to-play augmented reality mobile app by Mojang Studios and Xbox Game Studios was meant to capitalize on the popularity of another recent augmented reality mobile app Pokémon GO and combine it with the popularity and mechanics of Minecraft to create a new experience for Minecraft fans to enjoy. And when they released the app to Early Access on iOS and Android on October 17, 2019, the app showed great promise as early tester of the app (like myself) enjoyed what the app presented to players. And through continuous updates and fixes, the app started to become an enjoyable app for players to experience. But like almost all aspects of our world in 2020, the viability of the app was affected by the near-global lock down brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and it became nearly impossible for the app to continue. For an app that requires people to be out and about to enjoy the app, and with the pandemic essentially shutting down most (if not all) outdoor activities around the world, ME just could not survive any longer. So, Mojang made the decision to shut down the app on June 30, 2020 – essentially beginning the sunset on this Minecraft experience.

I mean, I completely understand why this decision was made, despite the two most recent MineCon Live/Minecraft Live events focus considerable attention to the mobile app. For ME to remain and viable and profitable application, Mojang needed two things for ME to work. First of all, it needed for players to be able to go outside and walk around to fully take advantage of the experience that ME was presenting. Secondly, with people walking around and playing, they needed people to then invest in the in-game market place to purchase “rubies” to obtain certain boosts and other build palates the game offered to further the experience of the app. But with people unable to leave their homes to fully take advantage of everything that ME had to offer, and because people weren’t fully taking advantage of the game, they had no need or urge to make any in-app purchases thus negating the profitability of the app, there was no logical reason for Mojang to continue to support the app that was probably losing money by this point. Of course, it doesn’t help that ME is still in Early Access and the majority of mobile app users still had no access to downloading the app. This probably means that an already small user base was spending even less on the app than they had previously anticipated. In the end, at least from Mojang’s point of view, this was the only decision left to them to save from losing more money on the app.

And therein lies the shame of it all as, in recent months, the team at Mojang responsible for ME was making real strides in fixing bugs and updating the app to make it a much more enjoyable experience than it had been since launch. I have been playing ME almost since launch day, and even though I had some fun playing the app initially there were numerous bugs and unnecessary updates that slowed down the game and made it unplayable at times – other times the needless updates made it somewhat difficult and tedious to launch the game at all. Still, I and many others testing ME stuck with the app hoping that the continual and regular fixes would improve the app enough for us to enjoy – and Mojang certainly delivered, especially in recent months. Little by little, ME started to become an enjoyable app to play, but as 2020 continued to roll on with the pandemic significantly affecting the everyday lives of nearly everyone across the globe, no matter how enjoyable ME was to play, there just wasn’t a safe enough way to fully enjoy and play the app as it had been developed to be experienced.

However, as sad as I am to see ME come to an end, I’m still going to stick with the app until the end. As the sun begins to set on the world of Minecraft Earth, I’ll be playing with the app until Mojang shutdown the app’s servers on June 30. For what it’s worth, over the last few months, and even though I have mainly played the app from the comfort of my Long Beach apartment and complex, far from the desired experience Mojang had envisioned for ME, I have enjoyed what the app has presented. As I stated before, in recent months I had been enjoying ME much more so than I had earlier in the year. Sure, I am limited to a one square block of plat space due to the lockdowns here in Southern California, but just walking around for an hour or so ensures that I can still enjoy the base app of ME as well as the Adventures Crystals that open up more features in the app for players to enjoy as the replicate the mining and caving aspect of the traditional Minecraft game. Still, this is not enough to get me to spend real-world money for some of the extras. But I am enjoying ME enough to stick with the app until the end. And it will certainly be a sad day when I and many other Minecraft Earth players see the sun finally set on this expanded Minecraft world. My only hope is that Mojang would possibly consider importing some of the unique mobs from ME into the regular Minecraft game… but that is totally dependent on Mojang.