Minecraft Earth (opens in new tab) is an AR spinoff that, rather like Pokémon Go, brings the beasts and blocks of Minecraft into the real world by way of your mobile device. It was announced in May 2019 and a month later made an impressive appearance at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, which showcased its scalability and co-op gameplay elements. Although, as Fraser said at the time (opens in new tab), the presentation had the benefit of taking place on "a massive, empty stage in a dark room," rather than in the real world.
Now the need to function in the real world has become an insurmountable obstacle for the game, although maybe not in the way you'd expect.
"Minecraft Earth was designed around free movement and collaborative play—two things that have become near impossible in the current global situation," Mojang announced today (opens in new tab). "As a result, we have made the difficult decision to re-allocate our resources to other areas that provide value to the Minecraft community and to end support for Minecraft Earth in June 2021."
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The game will continue to function until June 30, at which time all content and service support will be halted and it will no longer be downloadable or playable—installed copies of Minecraft Earth will display a "sunset information screen" when run after that date. The next day, July 1, all player data aside from character creator and Minecoin entitlements will be deleted. Players with leftover rubies—Minecraft Earth's premium currency—will be given Minecoins in their stead, which can be used to purchase skins, textures, maps, and minigames in the Minecraft Marketplace.
Anyone who's ever made a purchase in Minecraft Earth will be given a free copy of Minecraft Bedrock Edition.
As is often the case with games facing shutdown, Minecraft Earth has been given a final update that throws the doors open to everything it has to offer. Real-money transactions have been removed, ruby costs have been "drastically" reduced, crafting and smelting time requirements are also cut, unused crafting and smelting boosts have been replaced with radius boosts of the same level, and all completed but unreleased content has now been added to the game. Players who sign into the game prior to June 30 will also be given a set of Character Creator items.
"We want to take a moment to thank all of the players and creators that are bringing new adventures, mobs, and free in-game items for the community to enjoy while we finalize our timeline for sunsetting the game. Your feedback and creations brought this game to an entirely different level, from the regular build challenges you absolutely smashed to the incredible builds you shared on social media," Mojang said. "We’re eternally grateful for the amazing talent in the Minecraft community. This was not an easy decision, and we’re doing everything we can to make sure you get the most out of Minecraft Earth before it sunsets."
For a more detailed breakdown of how this is going to go, hit up the Minecraft Earth Sunset FAQ.