How Microsoft Just Changed ‘Minecraft’ – Fortune

Just as Lego continues to release new brick play sets to spur kids’ imaginations,Microsoft-owned developer Mojang also introduces new virtual building blocks for kids. The popularity of Minecraft, especially, lies in the game’s ability to let anyone jump in and create whatever their minds can conceive.

While Mojang isn’t developing a Minecraft 2 game, fans do have a Minecraft: HoloLens Edition to look forward to in the coming years. Kids are competing with Minecraft in Super Gaming League to earn college tuition across the country, while others are playing the MinecraftEdu version of the game in classrooms around the world.

But the main game in the franchise is also expanding as the studio that Microsoft acquired for $2.5 billion in 2014 continues to add new features and content. The latest update focuses on the game’s combat mechanics, which should make fighting more interesting to the over 100 million registered users.

“Mojang has a history of being very in-tune with the community, and a lot of these developments have been influenced by the community and what the players are doing in the game or asking for,” said Matt Booty, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios.

Players can now duel and wield weapons such as shields and swords, while weapons such as axes and swords have been upgraded with new attacks. A new “cool-down” delay adds strategy to combat, making timed attacks crucial in fighting. Players can also shoot new spectral and tipped arrows during combat.

“As a game, Minecraft has matured, and despite its sandbox mechanics and abundance of user-generated content, an update brings a welcome refresh,” Joost van Dreunen, CEO of SuperData Research, says. “Generally speaking, thematic updates draw people back.”

“When you watch anyone play, they all seem to find their own way to play, open-endedness to the game that allows that to happen,” remarked Jonas Mårtensson, CEO at Mojang. “There’s a neutrality to the game in that it doesn’t bring any gender or age or geography to it, which allows the player to bring what they want into this sandbox.”

Mårtensson says one big goal for the future is to bring Minecraft as one game across all the platforms it’s currently supporting, and hopefully expand to other platforms.

“What we’re trying to achieve is a platform where our players can play together across different devices,” Mårtensson noted.

Minecraft is currently available across all game consoles, mobile devices, and Windows 10. It’s also slated to come to Microsoft’s HoloLens virtual reality headset once the consumer edition is released.

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Booty underscored Microsoft and Mojang have worked well together in building out this brick world as Mojang will help produce the HoloLens edition.

“You have a small, tight-knit, indie-style studio that brings a community development approach, and then you have Microsoft with huge resources and forward-looking technology,” Booty explained. “These two things can come together at their best to deliver an amazing game with forward-looking technology that required deep resources to build. The experience we’re developing is a new way to experience the game, and it’s really authentic. It highlights how these two companies can come together and build something that didn’t exist before.”

Meanwhile, U.S. gamers can already take Minecraft into the real world in another form. Mojang and Microsoft have launched Mine Chest, a physical, block-shaped chest that is delivered monthly to gamers’ homes. It comes filled with toys, collectibles, and crafting recipes for building in-game content. Users pay $30 per month plus $8 shipping and handling for the subscription service.


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