Microsoft just unveiled Minecraft Earth, bringing the augmented reality (AR) world of Pokemon Go and combining it with the social creativity of Minecraft. Players will be able to go adventure using their phones, be it Android and iOS, obtaining rare blocks, building huge structures, and collecting unique mobs for their own personal build spaces.
As a free-to-play game, Minecraft Earth raises the specter of some of gaming's most predatory monetization practices on mobile phones. Thankfully, Microsoft doesn't seem to be going down the same route other games have.
Speaking to Executive Producer Jesse Merriam, and through hands-on with the closed beta, we learned that Minecraft Earth will have some mild monetization, but it doesn't seem too aggressive.
How does Minecraft Earth's monetization work?
Microsoft recently unveiled a Character Creator for Minecraft, with more advanced cosmetics that will be purchaseable in the store for skins that will work across all versions of Minecraft, including Earth. In addition, Minecraft Earth sells Build Plates, which are essentially pre-built areas you can use to craft or edit existing structures. The blocks from these Build Plates can be mined and kept, and you can purchase the Build Plates repeatedly if you want those specific blocks. Microsoft told us recently in an interview that Build Plates would generally only feature common materials, so don't expect to be able to obtain diamonds this way, for example.
As of writing, you can purchase Build Plates using Rubies, which can be acquired both in-game by completing challenges and so on, or purchased, starting at £1.99 for 40 Rubies. Build Plates cost anywhere up to 375 rubies, starting at 75. The first one however, is free, to ensure everyone can build.
Will there be loot boxes or pay-to-win in Minecraft Earth?
While Microsoft isn't ready to talk about Minecraft Earth's monetization systems just yet, Merriam was eager to tell us what it wouldn't involve. Minecraft Earth will not sport any sort of time-gating, short-circuiting, pay-to-win, or loot box elements based on monetization, according to Merriam. This is what he had to say to us:
We're not super-focused on monetization right now, our approach is definitely a player-first approach, though. We're not gating any gameplay based on monetization. We're not short-circuiting any gameplay. There's no pay-to-win, there are no loot boxes. We're trying to be authentic in the way we determine how to connect to players, and we're trying to take a very player-first approach to monetization.
Some free-to-play games out there effectively force you to "stop playing" for a while unless you pony up some cash or wait a few hours, while others allow you to pay real money to circumvent a game's economy. It's great to know Minecraft won't feature any systems in this vein.
Minecraft Earth takes the classic Minecraft experience to all new heights, with an augmented adventure unlike any other. All of the information you need on Minecraft Earth can be found right here on Windows Central!
Essential Minecraft Earth accessories you'll love
These affordable Minecraft Earth accessories are guaranteed to help on your digital adventures.
Anker PowerCore 5000 Portable Charger ($18 at Amazon)
Like any augmented reality experience, Minecraft Earth will be power-hungry and drain your battery fast. This 5000mAh Anker PowerCore portable battery pack keeps phone topped up when on the move with a compact, cylindrical silhouette.
PopSockets Collapsible Grip & Stand ($10 at Amazon)
Avoid phone drops on your blocky adventures with this collapsible PopSocket grip that doubles as a stand. Grippy and comfortable to hold, it adds convenience and peace of mind to any Minecraft Earth session.
Minecraft Baby Pig 7" Plush ($10 at Amazon)
Grab your own porky Minecraft Earth companion with this affordable official Minecraft Baby Pig plush. Lined with a soft exterior and embroidered pixel detailing, don't miss out on your seven-inch friend.
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