New Minecraft Earth AR game is official and coming in closed beta to iOS and Android this summer

Laurent Giret

Microsoft first teased a new Minecraft AR game at the end of its Build 2019 introducing keynote last week, announcing at the time that more info would be revealed on May 17. Well, today is the day, and the software giant just took the wraps off the new game which will be launching on iOS and Android this summer

It’s been nearly three years since Pokemon Go launched on iOS and Android and quickly became an instant hit, and we haven’t seen other developers get the same level of success with other AR games since then. Just like Pokemon Go, Minecraft Earth will be a free-to-play game, but it seems to be much more ambitious than what Niantic develivered three years ago.

Minecraft Earth is built on the new Bedrock version of the game for Windows 10, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android, and it should provide a familiar experience to players. However, the game has been created with the help of Alex Kipman’s HoloLens team, which looked to create an AR experience that can be shared with all players.

“We have covered the entire planet in Minecraft,” Torfi Olafsson, game director of Minecraft Earth told The Verge. “Every lake is a place you can fish, every park is a place you can chop down trees. We’ve actually taken maps of the entire world and converted them to Minecraft,” he added. All players will interact with the same shared world, where they’ll be able to build things and fight off the same monsters found in the traditional Minecraft game.

The game will also have a progression system, which will allow players to gain experience and keep their items every time they come back to the game. “We have levels that unlock content, and as you go up in levels, you’ll get access to more and more content and more build plates,” explained Olafsson.

The game will launch in closed beta on iOS and Android this summer, and there is no Windows 10 version in the works for now. Moreover, it looks like the game will only be playable in select cities at launch. “We’re committed to bringing Minecraft Earth to the entire Earth but will roll the game out gradually to ensure everyone gets the best play experience,” the Minecraft team explained in a FAQ.

If you’re interested in joining the closed beta, you can already sign up on this page, though be aware that the number of participants will be limited. Microsoft expect to welcome “hundreds of thousands of players” this summer, and we should get more information about the new AR game in the coming weeks.