Minecraft Earth end date suggests LEGO won the real war

This week the augmented reality game Minecraft Earth was announced as headed for the graveyard. On June 30, 2021, the game will officially end support, and no more Minecraft blocks will appear in any players' augmented reality as such. Does this mean that Minecraft interest is dying too, or that this game didn't capture the Minecraft spirit?

Minecraft Earth was an ambitious project that stood on the shoulders of both the original Minecraft and the AR/GPS map-based game Pokemon GO. Pokemon GO, in turn, stood on the shoulders of Niantic's game Ingress, the first relatively major smartphone-centric GPS map-based game in the world.

Microsoft launched Minecraft Earth with the hope that they'd be able to take part in the future whose door Niantic busted through with Pokemon GO. People love to walk around and find Pokemon in augmented reality, so why not cross-breed that with Minecraft?

Minecraft Earth had players walk around their neighborhood looking for pieces that they could then turn into block-based architecture aplenty. But unlike the several other games that popped up in Pokemon GO's wake, Minecraft didn't seem to fit. Or it didn't fit well enough to make the creators of the game think that it was worth the continued effort to keep alive.

Games like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Catan: World Explorers still exist, and run, and do not appear to be ending any time soon. They, too, are part of this GPS/augmented reality crossover gaming universe.

The Minecraft brand is successful because it's simple. It's successful because it's both easy and entertaining to dive into a blocky world on almost any platform and explore, and build. Adding the requirement to go out and find blocks in order to build takes away at least half of the fun of the game. You can't just drop in and start punching a tree, you have to achieve objectives and reach goals... it's not the same deal.

It's a lot more like LEGO. If I want to build a tower with blocks, and I need to leave my home to attain those blocks, I'd much rather just buy a new box of blocks from LEGO. I was absolutely, completely wrong. When I suggested that Minecraft Earth will be better than Pokemon GO, I was dead wrong – and Pokemon GO persists!