In these extraordinary times, games like Minecraft have an important role in providing an escape from the day-to-day and fostering social connections between friends and families.
The virtual world game Microsoft acquired in 2015 is seeing a boom in play as the Covid-19 pandemic shutters schools and leaves kids stuck at home.
When schools and businesses first started closing their doors due to COVID-19, Microsoft started thinking about the different ways we could help support the Minecraft community.
The company made Minecraft: Education Edition free to educators to help students stay engaged in remote learning through the end of June. It also launched the Minecraft Education Collection in the main game itself, with content from some of Microsoft's most popular Marketplace partners, free through the end of June. Microsoft says there have been more than 50 million downloads of free educational content since it launched in the Minecraft Marketplace on March 24.
Microsoft also partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on a global PSA campaign to share the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 prevention guidance. Through this partnership, innovation company AKQA also released a free “BlockDown Simulator” map in Minecraft: Java Edition to teach players effective strategies for social distancing.
It’s been an incredible year for Minecraft with the global rollout of Minecraft Earth, the release of the game-changing RTX beta for Windows 10 through Microsoft's partnership with Nvidia, and closing out 2019 as the most viewed game on YouTube. Microsoft says that there have now been more than 200 million copies of Minecraft sold to date, and 126 million people are now playing Minecraft every month.
The number of new installations of Minecraft across Xbox One, Windows 10, the Xbox Game Pass subscription, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android rose 25% in April from March, Microsoft said. That brings the total number of people playing Minecraft each month to more than 126 million, Microsoft added. Multiplayer sessions jumped 40%, indicating gamers are using Minecraft’s pixelated world to connect with friends they can’t see in the real one.
Minecraft Dungeons is launcing on May 26 with Xbox Game Pass and multiple platforms, and the free Nether update tis coming to Minecraft this Summer.
In celebration of Minecraft’s birthday on May 17, Microsoft unveiled an updated logo, visual identity, and refreshed name – Mojang Studios – which unifies Microsoft's dual studios in Redmond and Stockholm, as well as the company's team members working in other regions around the world.