Microsoft’s purchase of developer Mojang along with the Minecraft IP for $2.5 billion dollars last year heralded a new era for the mega-popular game. Microsoft has since released a plethora of updates to the title, a port of the game to Windows 10, and expanded the merchandising with LEGO figures and handbooks among many other things.
With some expecting a full-on sequel to be in the works, Microsoft has kept quiet about the future of Minecraft, instead continuing to let the core game grow as it expands to other platforms (including Ninteno's Wii U finally). Applications outside of the gaming sphere were not expected to be part of Minecraft's future, but that is exactly what the Windows creator has done. The company announced it is acquiring MinecraftEdu and creating a classroom version of the game called Minecraft: Education Edition.
In a blog post, Vice President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft Anthony Salcito explained the acquisition.
“We’re excited to announce today that Microsoft is acquiring MinecraftEdu and investing in a new and expanded version of Minecraft for the classroom called Minecraft Education Edition. Building on the success of the title from Teacher Gaming LLC, this new title – available for free trial this summer – will offer an expanded set of features to empower educators to foster deeper student engagement and collaboration.”
MinecraftEdu, previously supported by Mojang, offers a classroom appropriate variant of the original game for educational purposes as Microsoft plans to build on that platform. MinecraftEdu’s official site notes that existing customers will get a free one-year subscription to Minecraft Education Edition and that MinecraftEdu will continue to function as normal alongside Microsoft’s expanded version.
Educators will be able to visit education.minecraft.net for all the resources they need including lesson’s and build examples – like the recreation of the Temple of Artemis available for download along with history, poetry, and architecture lessons surrounding the ancient monument. Salcito mentioned the Minecraft education initiative initially launched last summer – with Microsoft’s announcement today paving the way for future growth in the education sector – as he remembered speaking about Minecraft's ability to be used in education.
“Innovative educators are seeking resources that can spark this curiosity and imagination, drive discovery and creation, and foster sharing and collaboration. Thanks to passionate students and visionary educators around the world we are finding Minecraft to be one of these resources in classrooms.”
Expectations about the future of what Microsoft can and will do with the Minecraft IP may be altering now as its potential continues to expand. The company seems to be currently interested in expanding Minecraft into other industries and platforms, continuing to grow the franchise's user base and potential - which is why Minecraft was also shown as a key part of Microsoft's impressive HoloLens demos.
Minecraft Education Edition’s free trial will be available this summer.