Classic Sega Titles Are Coming To The Nintendo Switch

A recent Sega event in Japan is turning up all kinds of interesting news for the publisher, including the fact that a collection of Genesis and Master System games are heading to the Nintendo Switch. Get ready to party likes it’s 1985.

It’s been a busy weekend for Sega, what with the announcements of the Shenmue I/II rerelease and another micro-console heading our way. But for folks gaming on the Switch, the biggest news is likely this new collection of retro games being called “Sega Ages.” According to a report from Polygon, the collection will include 15 titles from the Sega Master System and Genesis, though only a trio of titles have been announced so far. Those include the original Sonic the HedgehogPhantasy Star and Thunder Force 4. Since M2 is working on these titles, we have a feeling they will be direct ports rather than remasters. However, that does not rule out additional bells and whistles like art galleries, save states, the ability to rewind gameplay, etc. None of that has been confirmed at this point, I’m just listing examples of some of the modern touches a lot of rereleases have been getting these days. The good news is that M2 has already worked on bringing plenty of 8-bit and 16-bit Sega games to more modern platforms, so we’re expecting some solid work out of the Sega Ages lineup.

We also know that the games will arrive sometime this summer, though nothing more specific than that has been listed at this point. We’re kind of curious what 12 games will make up the remainder of the collection. Since there are only 15 total, we figure they probably don’t want to do all three Sonic games when they could give up those two spots to other Sega classics. Then again, all three Sonic games are playable on about every platform known to man at this point, so maybe it makes sense that they all three make their way to the Switch.

As the original post points out, this could also be taken as a bad sign for some Switch fans, as it sure makes it seem like an alternative to the Virtual Console. Then again, maybe Nintendo simply isn’t worried about bringing outside consoles to a Switch Virtual Console. We know that something has to be in the works for first-party titles, as classic games are a part of their premium online plan. But that also doesn’t mean that games other than those offered through the plan will ever be made available. That would seem like Nintendo was leaving an awful lot of money on the table, but we’re basically done trying to figure out how the company thinks.

Still, whether it’s through a Virtual Console or not, it looks like 15 classic Sega games are heading to the Switch. What titles would you like to see included in the lineup? Let us know in the comments below.

Classic Sega Titles Are Coming To The Nintendo Switch

Xbox Live Achievements are Coming to Nintendo Switch Version of Minecraft

In what is perhaps the strangest story of the week, it seems that Minecraft players will soon be able to earn Xbox Live achievements while playing the game on Nintendo Switch.

Patrick Maka was one of the first to notice this odd revelation over on Twitter where he tweeted out a screenshot of the achievement listing. Much like the iOS and Android versions of Minecraft, it seems that the Switch version will boast the same achievements as every other platform that the game has appeared on.

Polygon was able to later confirm what Maka found by reaching out to Microsoft. A representative from the company responded and stated:

“We can confirm that Minecraft players on Nintendo Switch will soon be able to earn achievements tied to Xbox Live once the Bedrock update is released.”

One of the underlying factors that made this situation possible was likely due to the fact that the Switch doesn’t have a native achievement system tied to the console. The PS4, on the other hand, does not boast these achievements due to the use of the console’s trophy system.

As of now, we don’t have a timetable for when the Bedrock update will be rolling out for Minecraft on Switch, but it likely won’t be too long considering the update has already released for other platforms. Once it does release though, all you’ll have to do is simply login to your Xbox Live account on the Switch to start earning those achievements for yourself.

Ashland Teacher Using Minecraft To Enhance Learning In Class

ASHLAND, OH – An Ashland High School English teacher is using Minecraft to engage students in the literary worlds they are reading about in class.

Minecraft, a sandbox video game that was released in 2011, gives players the freedom to build anything they want in the game’s world. Microsoft bought the intellectual property in 2014. Since then, Microsoft has produced an “Education Edition” in order to implement the game in the classroom.

When Ben Spieldenner, English Teacher at Ashland High School, told his students that they would be playing Minecraft to further their learning, he didn’t have to worry about them being rusty.

“It’s like riding a bike, you know?” Spieldenner said. “They are very familiar about how it works, they are very familiar with how to construct, all those kinds of things.”

Ben got the idea to implement the game into his classroom after playing it with his kids. He recognized that the game did not have a win/lose system, instead it rewards players with the freedom of creation and exploration.

“I’ve been teaching english for a number of years, and so selfishly, I really wanted to plan the worlds that we have been reading about.” Ben Spieldenner said. “I wanted to use Minecraft to create an experience they would not have gotten in the real world.”

When students were able to get hands-on with the game in class, they were structured into teams. One team was tasked with creating, while another was tasked with destruction. Due to limited resources, this brought forward discussions on how to best utilize the resources they have, as well as plan how they wanted to create the worlds that they have been reading about.

Different worlds were built from many english texts from authors such as William Shakespeare, Ayn Rand, Charles Dickens, and more.  Students found out quickly that the more they read in the book, the more likely they are to find secrets hidden in the world.

Ben states that having the game help visualize the worlds of the books they have been reading helps them better understand the subject. It’s a tool that not many kids have at their disposal.

“We assume that kids have the tools necessary to be able to understand what they are reading,” Ben explained. “Not all kids have those tools.”

Ben Spieldenner grew up with video games, his parents would often tell him that he would have to read for one hour in order to be able to play video games for an hour. Ben says that this is probably what led him to become an english teacher. This is something that he wants students to experience, the joy of combining two worlds together.

Public perception of using video games in the classroom is mixed, but Ben says that the benefits are endless.

“Sometimes its just a matter of showing that it’s not necessarily about the game itself… it’s about what games can do for your class.” Ben stated. “It’s a different way to look at education, it’s a different way to look at the classroom… I think when they see how excited kids are to be there and to be playing again in class… I think that’s exciting.”

Ashland Teacher Using Minecraft To Enhance Learning In Class

Minecon Earth 2018 to kick off on September 29 with Minecraft news, panels and more

If you’re a Minecraft fan, you’ll want to make sure you’re schedule is open in late September. Minecon 2018 will take place on Saturday, September 29 this year and, like last year, you can expect a vivid celebration of all things Minecraft.

Mojang and Microsoft are asking fans to participate this year in a couple of ways. Ahead of the show, you can submit your ideas for panels that you’d like to see. Those that are chosen will be recorded and shown during the stream. If you’re the creative type, you can also create a Minecraft-themed costume and submit a picture of it to Mojang. If you’re among the team’s favorites, you’ll win a prize an be flown out to Minecon to appear on the live stream.

This is the second year that Minecon will be a live-streamed virtual event instead of a physical convention. The team at Mojang is promising there will be plenty of live gameplay, chats with popular members of the community, and details about new stuff coming to Minecraft throughout the 90-minute event. For more, you can check out the official Minecon 2018 website.

Minecon Earth 2018 to kick off on September 29 with Minecraft news, panels and more

Microsoft’s smart mat project could blend Lego and Minecraft together

Microsoft has unveiled its latest research project today, Project Zanzibar. It’s a smart mat that’s designed to blend the digital and physical worlds by sensing touch, gestures, and objects. A team of researchers, with a love of toys, created the project at Microsoft’s research labs in the UK. The mat folds and combines sensing, near field communication (NFC), and multi-touch to imagine a future where you could place objects on this smart mat and play games.

Microsoft’s video (above) demonstrates a number of different games that track the position, movement, and orientation of objects — all thanks to NFC stickers. The smart mat, that reminds me of the Surface Music Cover, can even detect inputs like button presses, and works with existing devices via Bluetooth. While the software maker demonstrates basic games for learning, programming, and augmented reality, this looks like the perfect hardware to combine the company’s Minecraft game with real-world Lego blocks. Objects can be easily tagged with NFC stickers, so you could stack them and have the mat translate that physical object into Minecraft.

It’s early days for Microsoft’s Project Zanzibar smart mat, but ZDNet reports that the company will be demonstrating it later this month at the ACM CHI Conference in Montreal. Microsoft has clearly focused on learning and education with this smart mat prototype, and the toys and games aspect could work well in schools if it’s ever released. Microsoft has been criticized in the past for showing off research projects and never making them a reality. However, the software maker did overhaul its research arm back in 2016 to create projects that aren’t just pure research and can have a greater impact on the company.

Microsoft’s smart mat project could blend Lego and Minecraft together

Sea of Thieves’ do anything attitude positions it as Minecraft’s spiritual successor

Sea of Thieves is the most fun I have had in a multiplayer game. That is not to say it is the best multiplayer game ever made, but it is certainly the first that I have had to pause during play due to the streams of tears rolling down my face as I laugh uncontrollably. What I learned is that, at face value, Rare’s pirate sandbox is thin and light, but dig deeper and you will quickly find Sea of Thieves’ greatest treasure is that it is a stage for your own slapstick comedy show.

Are you sailing the seas? Take a look at our Sea of Thieves quest guide

If you have already dived into Sea of Thieves and found it more frustrating than funny, then that is understandable: for a game that appears accessible, it is annoyingly obtuse. A complete lack of tutorial shrouds the fiddly basics in a seemingly impenetrable fog, and the initial quests barely explain what you need to collect, nevermind where you may find the items you require. If you ever played Minecraft in the days before punching trees became second nature to every PC gamer, you will understand the levels of confusion that Sea of Thieves evokes.

Your first challenge is to actually set sail. Sea of Thieves is not exactly a nautical simulator but it does place a variety of demands on a crew. There is no minimap, meaning someone will have to navigate and shout directions from the map room. Sails must be opened to the correct height and angled to catch the wind, and constantly adjusted during a voyage to maintain the correct speeds. The high levels of interaction it demands from a single crew is delightful – emphasising from the start that this is a game about players working together.

Sea of Thieves

A little exploration goes a long way. Embrace it and soon you will be sailing the seas with a broader level of understanding of both the mechanics and the general thrust of the game. It is at this point that Sea of Thieves’ depth begins to unravel. Rather than being content with providing a small archipelago for you to aimlessly mess around in, this cartoon Carribean feels akin to a miniature seafaring Elite Dangerous. The framework is thin, with tasks that, at least initially, amount to nothing more than deliver X to Y before a deadline. However, it is the emergent stories that unfold around these quests that provide Sea of Thieves with its entertainment value.

With a crew consisting of myself and fellow PCGamesN writers Jordan and Ali, I accept a standard entry-level quest to deliver two pigs. After loading a couple of cages for the cargo into our hold, we ship out to a nearby island in the hope of finding some wild hogs. The task list requests one pink and one black pig. Seems easy enough.

A few minutes later we have a pig in a cage but we have clearly caught the wrong breed. Covered in brown spots, this is neither a pink nor a black pig. I crouch next to the cage to work out how to free the frightened animal, but see no solution. In response, Jordan simply pulls out a blunderbuss and blasts the creature to smithereens, leaving an empty cage that is of use to us again. Through horrified screams and bursts of laughter over VOIP, I see his logic.

Sea of Thieves

We eventually capture the required pigs and load them onto the ship. A few minutes into our return journey one of the pigs evaporates. It just disappears. It is at this point that we realise livestock needs to be fed, and that ignoring the upset shrieks of a pig is something only a careless sailor would do. I feed the surviving animal bananas while Jordan plays a sombre funeral tune on a herdy gerdy to mark the passing of our innocent cargo.

On our way to a second island in search of a new pig, we come across another set of players in a much smaller boat. Our excitement overrides the requirements of the quest and so we begin an extended chase sequence. The tiny two-man sloop, crewed by a duo much more talented than ourselves, threads itself through a maze of sharp rocky pillars, but is eventually skewered on the bow of our galleon. Ali and Jordan dive from our deck to theirs with smoke erupting from their blunderbuss muzzles. Standing at the helm of our ship, I watch the mission unfold through a spyglass; the sole survivor of the enemy crew dives off the side of the ship as they flee our raid. Success!

As Ali and Jordan plunder the captured ship’s hold, I turn to look at our own galleon. The fact that the main deck is about four feet underwater indicates that perhaps the raid was not as successful as first thought. I scramble aboard our newly-captured scruffy tub as our colossal ship sinks out of sight. In its wake, an empty pig cage floats to the surface. That’s karma, I suppose.

This adventure is something that will live in my memory for a long time, but whether Sea of Thieves can continue to delight in this way over the long term remains to be seen. Meaningful progression is important, even in a game where the core of the excitement comes from player interaction rather than mechanical structure. Completing quests improves your standing with the game’s various factions, but in my first few hours I have yet to see what new missions higher standings provide. Quests will need to be much more involving than delivering livestock to keep anyone invested beyond the game’s opening weeks.

Sea of Thieves

It is clear that simply following pre-set goals is less than half the fun, though. Sea of Thieves is a game best played by a group of curious minds that do not require waypoints and strict mission parameters. During our voyage, our group stumbled across a riddle that began a treasure hunt which soon took precedence over everything else. Just like the hunts you used to do as a child, these clues took us to new areas and asked us to perform tasks that unlocked further information. Each new island we visited offered up its own little story alongside a new clue – on one beach we found a cursed chest that instantly caused the holder to become horrendously drunk, while on another island we were chased from our objective by skeletal warriors. It is clear that there are plentiful opportunities in this world, but they are more freeform and lacking in details than you would expect from a game of this type.

Sea of Thieves is a strange game in many ways. So many of its mechanics are weirdly obtuse: Why do I need to take a quest all the way to my ship and plonk it down on the table to start it, when, inevitably, I will then have to run all the way back to the island town in order to collect the items I need for the job? Why does all my progress in a treasure hunt disappear if I log out the game? But there were many similar questions I had of Minecraft, and that went on to be a phenomenon. Mojang’s beast does, of course, provide you with the tools to make anything you want, which is the core reason behind its success. Sea of Thieves has nothing quite so malleable. But, if you were to consider personal experiences and adventures as replacements for building blocks and projects, then perhaps there is a bit of Minecraft’s immortal go-anywhere-do-anything spirit in Sea of Thieves. I hope so, anyway, because I do not want this euphoria of grog-fueled fun to end anytime soon.

Sea of Thieves’ do anything attitude positions it as Minecraft’s spiritual successor

How to Download Minecraft Texture Packs

How to Download Minecraft Texture Packs

Minecraft texture packs offer a fun way to spruce up the visuals of your world, and there are a wide range of options currently available, with more being added frequently.

Depending on the platform, the method of downloading the texture packs can vary.

On PC, you must first download the texture pack onto your computer. Make sure you are getting it from a reputable source to avoid contracting a nasty virus. Once you have done this, access the Minecraft main menu, and select the Resource Packs button in the options menu (note that as of version 1.6, texture packs were officially renamed resource packs, and some older texture packs may have compatibility issues with newer versions of the game).

Selecting the Open Resource Pack Folder button will bring up a menu that shows the folder for resource and texture packs. Add the desired texture pack to this destination. Once it has been moved, the pack will now be applied, and loading your world will let you see the new changes.

Applying texture packs to the console versions of Minecraft is much more straightforward. To download them, open your console’s store application (the Xbox Marketplace, PlayStation Store or Nintendo eShop), and select the ones you want. The price will vary, depending on the content. Alternatively, you can access the Minecraft DLC via the Minecraft Store option on the main menu.

How to Download Minecraft Texture Packs

Library listings: Minecraft, Star Wars and online branding on tap

The following programs are being held at the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library. Note that the library is now open Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The library is no longer open on Wednesdays due to budget cuts.

Sensory Storytime

Sensory Storytime has sessions on April 21 and 28. Each session is from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. This is an interactive program especially designed for children on the autism spectrum, those who are sensitive to sensory overload or have other special needs, and those who have difficulty sitting through a traditional storytime. A parent or caregiver is required to attend with their child. Registration is required for each session and is limited to eight children.

See Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be playing Tuesday, April 3, at 7 p.m.

Learn about online branding

The Monroe Chamber of Commerce, Fairfield County SCORE and the library are sponsoring “10 Critical Tools for Promoting Your Brand Online (& Making Your Life Easier) on Friday, April 6, from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. This presentation will uncover fresh ways to create or maintain a powerful and positive brand image on social media and in your digital media strategies. Lunch will be served, and networking opportunities will be available before and after the event. Registration is required.

Look back at 1918 flu epidemic

Hamish Lutris will present “I Smell Death Here: The Great Flu Epidemic of 1918” on Monday, April 9, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This presentation will center on a short history of disease in the western world, te swine flu itself, its pathology and effects.

Career Tuesdays returns

Career Tuesdays Workshop Series focuses on interview skills on Tuesday, April 10, at 10 a.m. Registration is required.

Minecraft Meet-Up set

The next Minecraft Meet-Up will be Tuesday, April 10, from 4 to 5 p.m. This is for children in grades 6 to 12. Registration is required and limited to 12. Call the library (203-452-2852) or visit the Teen page to register online.

Program takes you on Italian tour

Town Council member and retired Monroe chemistry teacher Enid Lipeles will present a “Travelogue of Venice, Florence and Rome” on Sunday, April 15, from 2 to 3 p.m. In venice, see Doge’s Palace, St. Mark’s Basilica and take a gondola ride. After viewing art treasures in Florence, Lipeles will take everyone to Rome to see the ancient Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and Square, the Vatican, and the Sistine Chapel. Registration is required.

Speaking with the Victorian Dead

Historian Robert Cox will explore the ideas that Spiritualists in Victorian America had in mind when communing with the spirits of the deceased in a program on Monday, April 16, at 6:30 p.m.

Artistic creations for adults

Sculpy Clay for Adults: Spring Flowers will be Tuesday, April 17, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Anna Mastroianni returns to show participants the techniques for making miniature Sculpy Clay flowers. Registration is required and is underway. It is limited to 16 people.

Nachos & A Movie set

Local teenagers, grades 7 to 12, can enjoy some nachos while watching Thor: Ragnarok on Friday, April 20, beginning at 6 p.m. Registration is required and limited to 20 people.

Spring concert series continues

Rhythms of the World with Judy Handler and Mark Levesque will be Sunday, April 22, at 2 p.m. Experience an exuberant celebration of cultures with this exceptional program of music from the around the world for guitars and mandolin. No registration necessary. Refreshments served after the concert.

Library listings: Minecraft, Star Wars and online branding on tap

From ‘Pac-Man’ to ‘Minecraft’: What you’ll find at Franklin Institute’s celebration of video games

Let the games begin! Video games, that is.

In “Game Masters: The Exhibition” at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, no quarters are required to play more than 100 video games — from original arcade classics such as “Donkey Kong” and “Pac-Man” to favorite console games such as “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Rock Band” to today’s indie hits such as “Angry Birds” and “Fruit Ninja.”

The 14,000-square-foot exhibit, which continues through Sept. 3, celebrates five decades of video game evolution and showcases the contributions of more than 30 of the world’s most influential game designers.

In addition to retro and cutting-edge games, designers’ works are explored in interviews, rare concept artwork and storyboards.

The exhibition also features interactive programming space developed by the Franklin Institute to explore topics such as coding, robotics, gamification and problem-solving.

“Needless to say, fun is an understatement here,” says Larry Dubinski, president of The Franklin Institute.

Game Masters, created and curated by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and designed “to inspire ingenuity, creativity and nostalgia,” features unique experiences, including a large-scale, colorfully illuminated version of “Dance Central 3” (2012), in which participants choose famous club songs and mimic the dance moves on-screen.

Adrenaline junkies can head to a motion-controlled, ride-on motorcycle game, “Hang On,” or get behind the wheel of a 3-D driving video game, “Out Run.” Both games were designed by Japan’s Yu Suzuki and released by Sega in the mid-1980s.

“The Franklin Institute has always been a place to go for hands-on science learning, a place to discover and indulge individual curiosity and to find answers to some of our most basic scientific questions,” Dubinski says. “Through our exhibits, events and programs both in the museum and throughout the community, we are always looking for fresh and new ways to ignite a spark and create that ‘ah-ha’ moment, to educate and inspire. With ‘Game Masters,’ the possibilities are endless.”

Game Masters is presented in three sections: Arcade Heroes, Game Changers and Indies.

Arcade Heroes spotlights pioneering designers from the trailblazing arcade era, including Ed Logg (“Asteroids,” 1979), Toru Iwatani (“Pac-Man,” 1980) and Tomohiro Nishikado (“Space Invaders,” 1978).

The Japanese and American designers came from diverse backgrounds, including engineering, toy design, pinball arcades and computer science.

When their games first appeared at amusement venues in the 1970s, they offered many people their first experience of interacting with a computer.

“Successful arcade games combined themes drawn from science fiction and popular culture with the excitement of playing against a machine that offered immediate and explosive audio and visual feedback,” a museum placard reads.

Game Changers, the largest section, focuses on 13 leading contemporary designers whose work has had lasting industry and cultural impacts.

Each of the designers — some individuals and some teams — have a unique vision and style that has been refined over the years (often decades) to create the characters, environments and stories we know and love.

Among the spotlighted designers are Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy, graduates of MIT’s computer-music department who popularized rhythm action games such as “Frequency” (2001) and “Guitar Hero” (2005); and Paulina Bozek, one of the few female game designers and the BAFTA Award-winning creator of Sony’s “SingStar” (2004) competitive karaoke series.

Visitors also can learn about American designer Will Wright, dubbed the father of simulation games following his first major success, “SimCity,” in 1989.

With other commercial hits such as “The Sims” (2000) and “Spore” (2008), Wright became known for creating fun and humorous games that empower the player to build their own environments and narratives, exploring concepts including urban design, evolution and social relationships.

The last section, Indies, showcases the work of designers who work outside the major studios and are economically and creatively independent.

These designers, including Jakub Dvorsky (“Machinarium”), Eric Chahi (“Another World”) and Markus “Notch” Persson (“Minecraft”) work without large teams of programmers and animators, and have been able to appeal to gamers through the strength of their ideas and the finesse of their execution.

In recent years, the popularity of smart phones has shifted the economic structures underlying game design and distribution.

Companies such as Australia’s Firemonkeys Studios (“Flight Control”) and Halfbrick (“Fruit Ninja”) and the Finnish group Rovio (“Angry Birds”) have been able to reach huge audiences and transform themselves into major international players by focusing on creative excellence in casual gaming.

Game Masters also features a 1,200-square-foot interactive programming area, led by Franklin Institute staff and volunteers.

For example, a Tetris-inspired activity challenges you to form a four-by-10-block rectangle out of life-size tetromino pieces; and a circuitry and input processing activity allows visitors to make a cartoon Ben Franklin walk, jump and perform other actions on-screen using conductive Play-Doh and a Makey Makey electronic invention kit.

You also can learn the basic principles of coding using programmable robots called Spheros and Ozobots. Or channel your inner Mario by putting on a white glove and punching an overhead question-mark block, prompting the classic chime sound effect.

In coordination with Game Masters, the museum will host adult-only screenings of classic gaming films “War Games” (June 5) and “Tron” (July 3), as well as “Programming from Scratch” beginner coding workshops (various dates). Also, on select Saturdays throughout the exhibit’s run, local gamers will showcase different sides of the gaming industry.


DETAILS

‘Game Masters: The Exhibition’

What: Exhibit celebrating five decades of video game designers and featuring 100-plus playable video games

When: Through Sept. 3

Where: The Franklin Institute, 220 N. 20th St., Philadelphia

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, until 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat.

How much: Daytime tickets (last entry at 3:30 p.m.), which includes general museum admission: $30; $26, ages 3-11. Evening tickets, with entry 5-6:30 p.m. Thurs.-Sat., includes general museum admission: $20; $15, ages 3-11. Tickets are for specific times.

Info: 215-448-1200, fi.edu

 

From ‘Pac-Man’ to ‘Minecraft’: What you’ll find at Franklin Institute’s celebration of video games

Minecraft Bedrock Edition update 1.2.13 – automatic realm backups, updated marketplace look, and continuous crop harvesting

The latest patch for Minecraft’s Bedrock Edition is update 1.2.13, which updates the marketplace, adds Update Aquatic features through experimental gameplay, and creates automatic realm backups, alongside other quality of life perks.

Want to spice up your life? Check out our list of the best Minecraft mods.

Minecraft Update 1.2.13 Release Date

Minecraft Bedrock Edition Update 1.2.13 was released on April 3, 2018.

Minecraft Update 1.2.13 Patch Notes

New Features

  • Realms now create automatic backups that can be downloaded and restored.
  • Added two options to swap A/B buttons and X/Y buttons on controllers, which can be found in controller settings.
  • Added menu screen transitions, which can be toggled in settings.

Changes

  • Many screens and actions now respond when a button is pressed instead of released so they now feel extra responsive.
  • Palleted chunks. This means we can now have (almost) infinite different types of blocks (and also no more BlockIDs). It also means the game should be less likely to crash due to being out of memory.
  • Falling on hay bales now reduces fall damage.
  • Owned skin packs will now appear at the top of the skin picker.
  • Purchased content will now auto-update, which can be toggled in profile settings.
  • Realms member lists can now be cleared from the members screen.
  • Updated look for the marketplace and search functionality to easily find specific content.

Experimental Gameplay

Some features from Minecraft’s upcoming Update Aquatic have been added via experimental gameplay. However, these features are incomplete and are not representative of final gameplay.

Experimental gameplay can be toggled in the world settings menu. To prevent your world from crashing, a copy of your world will be created with an [EX] before the world name. Once experimental gameplay is enabled for a world, it cannot be disabled. Any progress will not be saved to your original world.

  • Added drowned mobs.
  • Added the trident and new enchantments:
    • Channeling
    • Loyalty
    • Riptide
    • Impaling
  • Added stripped wood.
  • Added slabs and stairs for prismarine, orismarine brick, and dark prismarine.
  • New swimming animation while sprinting in water.

Bug Fixes

  • Crashes/Performance
    • Many optimizations to chunk rendering and game performance.
    • Chunk generation is now prioritised first to the chunks closest to the player.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred when creating multiple worlds of relics of the privateers.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred when uploading a screenshot to a club and losing internet connection.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred when using CTRL+MMB on a signed, written book contained in an item frame.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred when quickly entering and leaving the marketplace.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred when the host leaves their world and another player is looking in a chest.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred when a double chest is split using pistons and items are placed or taken from the half that was not moved.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred when navigating menus using the D-pad and mouse simultaneously.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred due to an issue with redstone torches.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred when navigating the store on low-end and mid-tier devices.
    • Fixed a crash that occurred when leaving the end.General
    • Viewing the presence on a player profile will now be accurate when playing split-screen.
    • Custom skins with uppercase ‘.PNG’ extensions are now recognized in Windows 10.
    • The achievement screen will now show the most recent status without having to close and reopen the game.
    • Fixed local co-op not properly saving player progress.
    • Disabling “visible to LAN players” for one world no longer disables it for all worlds.

Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition

  • Gameplay
    • Crops can once again be harvested continuously.
    • Crops will now pop out of the ground if the light level is seven or lower.
    • Fixed villager trade items not being replenished.
    • Fixed some villager trades not granting XP.
    • Fixed spawn points not moving when obstructed by lava.
    • It is now possible to sleep when a skeleton horse is nearby.
    • Bows will now inflict the same amount of damage to players and mobs.
    • Eyes of ender and ‘/locate’ will now point to the right location of a stronghold.
    • For book and quill, the “sign and close” button is no longer active if a name has not been entered.
    • Double ferns now appear in mega taigas.
    • Protection enchantment no longer makes players immune to fire damage.
    • Activating sneak in one world and quitting no longer causes the player to spawn sneaking in in every other world.
    • Pressing open Chat together with place block on controller no longer causes place block action to repeat.
    • Fixed fire spreading from covered lava.
    • Fixed pick block replacing currently selected hotbar slot, even if other slots were empty.
    • Exploding creepers and beds in the nether can no longer ignite TNT in worlds that have ‘TNT explodes’ turned off.
    • The second player in split-screen can no longer die if their personal game mode is set to creative.
    • Experience can now be earned from cooking porkchops in a furnace.
    • Players are no longer set on fire when walking on non-full blocks placed next to a lava source.
    • Fixed player faces on maps so they no longer turn into arrows when they move too far from other players but will turn into arrows when close to other players.
    • Fixed creative flight speed being too slow until changing altitude after entering a world.
    • Falling on a slime block while sneaking now inflicts fall damage.

Minecraft 1.7.6 also brings an end to animals obsessed with their parents, even after growing up. Good: sounds unhealthy.

  • Items
    • Fixed items losing durability when used on other players and the PvP game rule is disabled.
    • Enchanted apples can once again be found in loot chests.
    • Name tags can once again be found from villager trading and fishing.
    • Diamonds will now appear in the loot chests of jungle temples and strongholds.
    • Map items in converted Xbox One Edition worlds now have the proper alignment.
    • The starting maps for old worlds are now zoomed in to level 1/4.
    • Maps will no longer show a green marker only for the last map that was placed in an item frame.
    • Glass bottles can now be filled from water sources in creative mode.
    • Pickaxes now break stone buttons faster than hands.
    • Bows can no longer be used to mine while charging.
  • Blocks
    • Extra blocks will no longer be placed when placing a block straight down.
    • Glass Panes now align to stairs.
    • Increased the hitbox of soul sand.
    • Grass blocks will now turn into dirt if grass path blocks are placed above them.
    • Vines can no longer be placed invisibly under leaf blocks.
    • Leaves no longer cut through blocks when growing trees using bone meal.
    • Anvils now drop as items when falling on torches.
    • Stone slabs and cobblestone walls now have the proper blast resistance.
    • Top snow falling on a top snow block no longer loses one layer.
    • Breaking cobblestone that is being pushed by a piston no longer drops an invalid ‘update’ block.
  • Redstone
    • Automated chicken cookers using slabs will now function properly.
    • Fixed redstone not powering horizontally adjacent blocks.
    • Hoppers and droppers can now only put music siscs inside jukeboxes.
    • Minecart with hopper and TNT will no longer shake on activator rails.
    • Renamed shulker boxes no longer lose their names when fired from a dispenser.
    • Daylight sensors can no longer generate power in the nether.
    • Undyed shulker boxes can no longer be placed inside other shulker boxes using hoppers and droppers.
    • Mobs in minecarts no longer activate rails next to them as they try to walk.
    • Observers no longer visually cut redstone dust.
    • Rails will now take block power into account when attaching to other rails.
    • Dispensers, droppers, and redstone lamps will now activate properly when redstone dust is placed on top of them.
    • Trapped chests with slabs or stairs above no longer power redstone dust adjacent to the block below when the chest is open.
    • Glazed terracotta can no longer be pulled using slime blocks and sticky pistons.
    • Minecarts no longer get stuck when passing through blocks on diagonal rails.
    • Armour can now be equipped to an armour stand using a dispenser.
    • The power output of redstone comparators is no longer lost after a world is converted from Xbox One Edition.

Minecraft

  • Mobs
    • Baby chickens no longer get stuck in the corners of fences.
    • Increased the spawn rate of slimes.
    • Fixed mobs shaking while riding in minecarts.
    • Horses can no longer be steered in deep water.
    • Llamas now form a caravan when following llamas on a lead instead of acting silly and running around in circles.
    • Llamas can now be healed by feeding them hay bales and wheat.
    • Mobs no longer view closed doors as valid paths and shouldn’t get stuck when trying to walk through them.
    • Mobs can no longer spawn on carpet.
    • Mobs will once again spawn when the player is below a height of 30 blocks.
    • Mobs will once again not spawn on transparent blocks like glass and fences.
    • Rabbits will now follow players that are holding carrots and flowers in survival mode.
    • Elder guardian and zombie villager spawn eggs can now be obtained with pick block in creative mode.
    • Smaller mobs can no longer trample farmland and crops.
    • Fixed medium slimes not dealing damage to players.
    • Endermites will no longer suffocate when riding in minecarts and boats that are not on rails or in the water.
    • Fixed villager behaviour when it’s raining so they now disperse to separate houses.
    • The wither will now face the right direction when attacking.
    • Pigs being steered using carrot on a stick will no longer jump up slab staircases and simply walk up them.
    • Fixed flowers that disappeared after being generated with bone meal.
    • Mob spawners will now stop spawning when there are six or more mobs in the vicinity.
    • Zombies and skeletons now burn during daytime in warm biomes when it’s raining in other biomes.
    • Fixed witches not spawning inside witch huts.
    • Wolves will no longer run from llamas if they are out of sight.
    • Increased the spawn rate of ghasts in the nether.
    • Increased the spawn rate of ocelots.
    • Spiders no longer give up so easily when attacking.
    • Parrots will now properly dismount when the player it’s riding dies.
    • Parrots riding on players’ shoulders will no longer hinder block placement while sneaking.
    • Parrots will no longer leave player shoulders when boarding a boat.
    • Villagers will now breed on converted Xbox One worlds.
    • Overworld mobs will no longer spawn in the nether on converted Xbox One worlds.
    • Iron Golems will no longer turn hostile toward the player that spawned them.
    • Iron Golems no longer spawn when mob spawning is disabled.
  • Crafting
    • Enchanted apples can no longer be crafted (golden apples are still craftable).
    • Various improvements to selecting items on the recipe Book with touch screens when using classic UI.
    • Crafting items that used ingredients in the hotbar no longer causes the hotbar to get shuffled when using a controller.
    • Mossy stone bricks can no longer be crafted from themselves and no longer results in loss of blocks.
    • Fixed Mojang logo banners not being craftable on converted Xbox One worlds.
    • Bucket, water bucket, lava bucket, and milk have been moved to the ‘items’ inventory tab.

  • Exploits
    • Players can no longer attack others with bows when friendly fire is disabled.
    • Minecart with hopper can no longer duplicate items.
    • Items can no longer be duplicated using item frames and hoppers.
    • Any item held by a player that is killed by thorns armour will no longer be duplicated.
    • Rails can no longer be duplicated when pulled by two pistons simultaneously.
    • Breaking a cauldron, furnace, banner, beacon, jukebox, or daylight sensor with silk touch no longer drops two of each item.
    • Breaking an ender chest with silk touch will no longer drop obsidian.
    • Items can no longer be duplicated using item frames and hoppers.
    • Switching between bows while aiming will no longer transfer item durability.
    • Players can no longer attack through walls in third-person perspective.
    • Killing an animal attached to a fence with a lead no longer duplicates the lead.
  • Realms
    • Permissions are no longer reset to default when a player re-enters a realm.
    • Operator status will now properly reflect in the in-game player permissions screen.
    • Fixed a soft lock that occurred when attempting to replace a world and the connection was lost.
    • Fixed an issue that sometimes prevented realms from being renewed.
  • Graphical
    • The line is now properly connected to the fishing rod and floater.
    • Rain is now visible through glass.
    • Sugar cane now has proper biome colouring.
    • Beacons will now shine through lava.
    • Maps are no longer cut off when being held on vertical split-screen.
    • Jungle leaves now have transparency when held in-hand.
    • Slimes now emit slime particles when jumping.
    • Fixed a missing piece of the hopper texture.
    • Flickering no longer occurs when looking through leaves that are next to snow.
    • Split-screen players will no longer share parts of the sky box backgrounds when they are in separate dimensions.
    • Block breaking animation no longer goes out of sync when jumping or changing tools.
    • Fixed the jumping animation for spiders.
    • Fixed shadow issues with chorus flowers when smooth lighting is disabled.
    • Fire, cobwebs, and leaves can no longer be seen through blocks at certain distances.
    • Jumping on a horse, donkey, or mule while pushing against a wall with items attached to it no longer causes black blocks to appear around the wall.
    • Fixed the wither textures during spawning and death animations.
    • Fixed the axe not being attached to vindicator’s hand when attacking.
    • Pistons and beds no longer have large visual outlines for a split second when being placed.
    • Fixed being able to see through lava when blindness effect is used.
    • End crystal beam is now centered at the crystal and not at the fire base.
    • End crystal items now have the enchantment effect.
    • Zombie villagers now produce red particles while being cured.
    • The dragon head will no longer flicker when using norse mythology textures.
    • Resource packs will now affect the look of the gamepad cursor.
    • The moon will no longer graphically stutter when do daylight cycle is disabled.
    • TNT ignited by redstone now shows the hopping animation.
    • Items held by zombie villagers are now in the right position.
    • Undyed shulker boxes no longer flash when being placed.
    • Particles left after dragon’s breath attack and lingering potions no longer leave visual artifacts.
    • Smooth lighting will now be changed immediately after toggling in settings.
    • Fixed floating items that appeared after a player died and remained until they respawned when keep inventory was enabled.
    • Chests are now placed in item frames with the proper rotation.
    • Rain, smoke particles, and shadows are no longer visible through lava.
    • Fixed a rare issue where rain and snow would fall through roofs.

  • Audio
    • Fixed the sound effect not playing when equipping armor from the hotbar.
    • Fixed missing sound when moving through end gateways.
    • The proper sound effects will now play when using ender chests, brewing stands, armour stands, furnaces.
    • Thrown entities no longer play footstep sounds.
    • Sound will no longer continue to play on the disconnect screen.
    • Minecarts will no longer make walking sounds after being pushed off and back on to rails.
  • User Interface
    • Text can now be properly copied and pasted in text fields when using a keyboard.
    • Fixed signs with formatting (§) not being able to create new lines.
    • Fixed a rare issue when pressing the A key on the virtual keyboard would delete all other text.
    • Reassigning the ‘toggle perspective’ key no longer changes perspective while typing in chat.
    • Fixed world names not being editable if they contained over 24 characters.
    • Non-functional split-screen options are no longer visible in settings for VR and mobile devices.
    • The oxygen bar is no longer misplaced when getting out of a boat and diving underwater.
    • Several improvements to navigating menus while using a controller.
    • After cancelling the “checking download” prompt, players are now taken back to the world settings screen.
    • World save size is now properly reported immediately after saving and exiting.
    • The number of worlds on the worlds tab is no longer overlapped by the world icon.
    • Fixed an issue that caused players to get stuck after posting a screenshot to a club.
    • Changing screen safe area size and GUI scale will now set the proper positions for the hotbar, health, hunger, and paper doll.
    • Deleting a world with a colored name no longer has extra colored text in the confirmation prompt.
    • The player model no longer appears in from the ‘choose new skin’ button.
    • Fixed an unhelpful error message when attempting to create a realm and the “you can create and join clubs” permission is blocked.
    • Disabling controller hints will now turn off hints on in-game menus.
    • Fixed the creative hotbar not always clearing when X is pressed on the controller.
    • When editing a page in book and quill, pressing B on the controller will now quit page edit mode instead of the whole book screen.
    • Items can once again be dropped by moving them into the grey space of the creative inventory screen.
    • Fixed the gamepad cursor snapping incorrectly when highlighting the off-hand slot and clicking the left thumbstick.
    • Fixed not being able to snap the gamepad cursor between the furnace fuel slot and output slot.
    • Expandable inventory groups in pocket UI are now titled properly.
    • Shift-clicking items into a donkey’s full chest will no longer cause the items to disappear.
    • Fixed incorrect items appearing in creative inventory searches.
    • Shulker box inventory tooltips are now properly translated to other languages.
    • A loading screen will now appear when applying global resources.
    • The Jukebox now has a controller tooltip for block use.
    • Fixed a delay in the ‘boost’ button appearing when mounting a pig with carrot on a stick in hand.
    • Fixed lowered frame rate when unfocusing from the book and quill.
    • HUD opacity now affects banners mob heads in the hotbar.
    • Fixed delays when typing in chat and other text fields.
    • Sea lanterns now appear in the proper category when searching the inventory.
    • Fixed double notifications appearing when importing a world.
    • A warning now appears instructing players not to close the game when exporting a world.
    • Fixed some worlds not appearing on the available templates list when not downloaded.
    • Navigating left or right on the available templates list will no longer move focus to the top of the list.
    • Several translation fixes for Español (Mexico).

Minecraft World of Color

  • Commands
    • Cloned banners no longer appear as blank black banners.
    • The “facing” component of ‘/teleport’ is no longer executed before teleporting a player.
    • Redstone dust can no longer be placed in air, or blocks not suited for it, using commands.
    • Players can now be killed using ‘/kill’ when they have a resistance effect of four or higher.
    • Fixed repeating damage sound and animation when using ‘/effect’ to get health and simultaneously taking damage.
    • The screen will no longer shake when standing on magma blocks after applying regeneration effect of 255 or more.
    • Banners placed with ‘/fill’ command are no longer random colours on realms.
    • Teleporting entities to or from a ticking area no longer fail to render or be interacted with.
    • Players will no longer receive an unknown map when using ‘/replaceitem’ command to place a map in the off-hand slot.
    • Items will now be received immediately and correctly when using ‘/give’ command with a chain command block.
    • Fixed ‘end_gateway’ and ‘end_portal’ having placeholder images when auto-completing commands.
    • Teleporting a horse while it’s being ridden now works as intended.
    • Buttons cloned in a “pressed” state no longer remain pressed forever.
    • Repeatedly teleporting TNT vertically will no longer separate the visual block from its explosive location.
    • Ocelots no longer spawn in groups when spawned using commands.

Add-Ons (Resource and Behaviour Packs)

  • Updated templates for 1.2.13 with new assets and behaviours can be downloaded at minecraft.net/addons.
  • Armour models now support hat layers.
  • Boats can now have more than one seat.
  • llamaspit.json‘ has been properly renamed to ‘llama_spit.json‘.
  • Removed ‘slot.armor.chest‘ from horses and llamas.
  • ‘behavior.hurt_by_target’ no longer triggers if an entity is not actually hurt by its target.
  • All parameters of ‘minecraft:breathable’ now function properly.
  • Name tags can now be always visible if they are set to do so through a behavior pack.

Minecraft Bedrock Edition update 1.2.13 – automatic realm backups, updated marketplace look, and continuous crop harvesting

As it happened: Dad attempts Minecraft marathon record for World Autism Awareness Day

A dad from Canada with a love of Minecraft is attempting the Longest videogame marathon on Minecraft to help inspire people with autism.

Stuart Duncan, 41, from Ontario in Canada is aiming to beat the current record of 35 hours 40 minutes and 2 seconds set between 1-2 June 2016.

His attempt began at 12am EDT (5am BST) on Monday 2 April, World Autism Awareness Day, “to show the world that autistics are capable and equal and should not be targeted to the extent that they are”.

Stuart, who is autistic himself, started his own Minecraft server – Autcraft – and 2018 is his fifth year of doing a 24-hour live stream to ‘educate people about autism, about autistic children and about the struggles they face in playing online’.

“My attempt at breaking the world record is to show the world that yes, autistics play Minecraft too but that we’re capable of great things… things that no one else can do. I will accomplish this goal and people will see that having autism is nothing to be ashamed of, they can still do great things.”

The dad-of-two also wants to highlight: “[That] autistic people are bullied at a hugely disproportionate rate compared to people without autism. That having one Minecraft server out of millions where autistic people can feel safe simply isn’t enough. That people with autism aren’t the anti-social, lacking empathy, troubled and disabled kids that so many people still think we are.

“But more importantly, I’m doing this to remind autistic people everywhere that we’re just as capable of being the very best in the world as anyone else, given the proper support and the right opportunities.”

Stuart Duncan and his Minecraft character

Stuart Duncan and his Minecraft character

Ace Combat Infinity Comes To a Close, Developers Reflect As They Move On

With the PlayStation 3 pretty much on its way out, that means it’s only a matter of time before devoted games for the system pretty much close down their services. Gran Turismo 6 came to a close earlier this year, and, now, it’s time for Bandai Namco’s Ace Combat Infinity to land on the runway.

The game, which launched as a free-to-play title for the PS3 back in 2014, gathered a pretty good community of would-be pilots enjoying the unfriendly skies, making it a suitable hit for Bandai Namco. But, with Ace Combat 7 looming on the horizon, the team appears ready to move on to the next big thing.

So, the servers came to a close yesterday, with pilots getting together for one last hurrah, taking part in a few dogfights before the servers came down. But it didn’t go quietly, as the development team decided to deliver some final thoughts on Twitter:

The team noted the following:

“It’s the end. Thanks and gratitude to everyone are overflowing. I have nothing to say. In the long period from the start to the end of development, as we experienced the sky, there were many encounters and partings among the team. There are friends who are trying hard somewhere else right now.”

“As long as there are people wishing to fly in the sky, the pilots gathered in Ace Combat Infinity will find a formation somewhere. We wish to end the service while hoping that day will come.”

“Thanks to what we were able to realize with Ace Combat Infinity, and what our players through us, through awareness, reflection and joy, the team learned many important things.”

“Thanks to the staff working on the closure today. I’m grateful. Thanks to everyone who has been flying to this day. You have my gratitude. That is all. Ace Combat Infinity, dismissed! Thank you very much! (Kono)”

And the team noted that, with the closure of Infinity, they noted that this isn’t a “goodbye,” but rather a “see you again!” Now it’s just a matter of seeing when that’ll happen.

Ace Combat 7 will release sometime this year for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Ace Combat Infinity Comes To a Close, Developers Reflect As They Move On

Minecraft Star Wars Sequel Skin Pack Announced, Available Now

Star Wars: The Last Jedi recently arrived on Blu-Ray and DVD, giving millions of fans the chance to watch it all over again. But that’s not the only place where you can celebrate your love for Star Wars.

Mojang has announced that it has released a new Star Wars Sequel Skin Pack for Minecraft, which is available through various digital storefronts for the low price of $2.99. You can find more details on its availability over at the Minecraft Marketplace.

The developer worked very closely with both Lucasfilm and Disney to capture that Star Wars essence in the skin pack, which features various characters from both The Last Jedi and the 2015 release The Force Awakens. This includes older Han Solo, General Leia Organa, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, Finn, Rey, older Luke Skywalker and Supreme Leader Snoke. This is just the beginning, as a number of characters from both films are available.

This is the latest skin pack to be introduced to the world of Minecraft, as we’ve seen countless ones offered over the years, from The Simpsons to Doctor Who to various Marvel properties.

The Minecraft Marketplace makes it easy to shop for these skins, so you can change up your game on the fly and see what they do for you. This helps extend the replay value of the game tremendously, enabling Mojang to support its millions and millions of fans, who keep coming back for more.

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There’s a possibility that this release could lead to other skin packs coming over the course of the year, though the developer hasn’t said a word about what could be coming next. So, for the time being, just enjoy the Star Wars pack that’s currently available, and relive those great memories from both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi – if you’re not doing that from watching the movies, that is.

Check out the trailer above, which features a number of the skins in action, and then get to building in Minecraft for various platforms, including Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U, as well as a plethora of mobile devices and tablets.

Minecraft Star Wars Sequel Skin Pack Announced, Available Now

Minecraft on PC, Xbox One, Android adds opt-in experimental features

Minecraft now has the option for you to test “experimental features” within the game’s main client.

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We’re talking about “Minecraft” here, AKA the game’s Bedrock Edition – the newer cross-platform version currently available on Xbox One, PC and smartphones.

Android, PC and Xbox One users can now toggle the option to enable new features which are still in beta testing. Right now, that includes elements from the game’s upcoming aquatic update like the new Drowned mobs (think: underwater zombies), a trident weapon, new enchantments and more blocks.

Microsoft had cautioned that, as a beta, things may go wrong (so backup your save). The game does create a separate world file (with ‘EX’ at the beginning of the name) to enable you to return to your prior save state should anything go badly wrong.

It’s sort of like the Minecraft Java Edition’s snapshots, which let you update your game client in small increments to receive new features as soon as they’re coded. The latest of these includes some of the same aquatic features.

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Minecraft on PC, Xbox One, Android adds opt-in experimental features

Is Ready Player One OK For Kids?

The following story includes some major spoilers for the Ready Player One movie that are necessary to discuss its more adult moments.

Ready Player One is a movie full of fun pop culture and exciting video game action, but does that mean that it’s ok for kids? While the vast majority of the film is likely to be perfectly fine for the vast majority of the audience, every kid is a little bit different and there are certainly a handful of moments that parents will likely want to consider before deciding if Ready Player One is ok for their kids.

The first point to discuss regarding Ready Player One is the language. The film is PG-13 and that rating allows for a certain level of profanity which the script fully takes advantage of. The use of “shit” and “asshole” is fairly free and frequent, in the way that it is used by teenagers in most movies. The PG-13 rating does also allow for the use of a single F-bomb, and it does get used. Near the end of the movie when a nameless bad guy character is confronted by a particular horror movie character who scares him into using the word.

And speaking of horror movie characters, there is a prolonged sequence in Ready Player One that is dedicated to a particularly popular horror movie of the 1980s. While the Ready Player One certainly holds on to its own PG-13 rating, the horror movie in question was originally rated-R. As such, there are some horror movie elements that might be a little too much for very young kids, even though they are toned down from the original for the most part. The movie in question also contains a scene with a naked woman. In Ready Player One, the scene is shot in such a way to prevent the camera from seeing anything that would make it a rated-R movie, though it is still clear in the film that the woman is naked.

As far as violence goes, while there s a lot of it, it’s almost all of the video game variety. When one avatar gets killed by another, they explode into coins and items, rather than blood and guts, which can be collected by another character. It’s actually specifically referenced by the creator of the OASIS in the film that he didn’t want to include more blood in the game. It’s also made clear in the movie that death within the game doesn’t hurt anybody in reality, though many characters wear special suits that allow them to feel real pain when their character is hurt in the game.

The other thing the special suit does is allow characters to feel other sensations on their body. Everywhere. This leads to a particularly intimate dance sequence between two characters where a woman rubs up against a guy’s groin. What the viewer sees is the suit light up at the crotch and the guy wearing it get a look of pleasure on his face.

All things considered, Ready Player One will likely be fine for most kids. Though, obviously, every kid is different, so depending on yours, there are some potential red flags here to consider.

Is Ready Player One OK For Kids?

Everything you need to know about Shuri from Black Panther

“Black Panther” breakout Letitia Wright plays Shuri, the genius little sister of Chadwick Boseman’s King T’Challa. But who is Shuri?

The character was introduced in the 2005 comic “Black Panther Vol. 4 #2,” and she goes on to become Queen of Wakanda and take on the mantle of the Black Panther herself. She’s also Disney’s newest princess, which Wright said is “a wonderful thing.”

“I liked her because she was different,” Wright said. “She wasn’t a stereotypical character, she’s a well-rounded human being…a fun character, smart, super-intelligent, super amazing.”

Before “Black Panther,” Wright starred in the “Black Mirror” season 4 episode “Black Museum,” as well as the series “Humans,” on which she played Renie, a synthie.

Boseman was present for Wright’s audition, of which he said, “What she has — you can’t teach that.”

In an earlier interview with VarietyWright revealed that she actually met the creator of Shuri, Reginald Hudlin, shortly after the world premiere of “Black Panther.”

“He said it was perfect,” Wright explained. “And I said, ‘I hope I can continue to grow more with Shuri, if that’s where the future takes us with Marvel.’ Shuri’s young now, but when she grows into an adult, she’s kind of savage. She’s one of the coolest leaders in the comic books.”

Read our full interview with Letitia Wright.

Everything you need to know about Shuri from Black Panther

‘Ready Player One’ to Storm Domestic Box Office With $53 Million

Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” will take over the domestic box office during Easter weekend with $53 million from 4,234 locations.

The VR-fantasy film starring Tye Sheridan launched a day early on Thursday after Warner Bros. decided to move up the release to take advantage of the vacation-friendly Easter holiday. With the added day, “Ready Player One” will come out more than $30 million ahead of the No. 2 film, “Tyler Perry’s Acrimony,” which is set to reel in roughly $16 million from 2,006 sites.

“Ready Player One” grossed $17 million on Friday, ahead of early forecasts, which had pegged the pic at around $38 million to $42 million for the Thursday through Sunday period. The film also opened day and date in 62 international markets, and earned roughly $28 million Friday for a foreign total of $42 million. In China, “Ready Player One” debuted at No. 1 with $14 million on Friday for a 60% box office share, marking the third-highest Chinese debut for a Warner Bros. film. Estimates for Saturday place the film’s take from China alone at $25.2 million.

Based on Ernest Cline’s 2011 novel, “Ready Player One” is set both in a dystopian version of Columbus, Ohio in 2045 and in an elaborate virtual reality world called Oasis, popular because it enables residents to escape the grim reality of their actual world. The film, written by Cline and Zak Penn, also stars Olivia Cooke, Lena Waithe, Ben Mendelsohn, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance. The sci-fi movie is sitting at a 76% certified fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has received a A- CinemaScore.

Lionsgate’s “Acrimony” ended Friday with $7.26 million, with $1 million from Thursday previews, and has received an A- CinemaScore. The thriller stars Taraji P. Henson as a woman scorned and out for vengeance. Perry’s last film, “Boo 2!” made $7.4 million between Thursday previews and its opening day.

In third at the box office is Disney-Marvel’s record-breaking “Black Panther”  in its seventh weekend with $11 million. The film has amassed over $1.2 billion worldwide and is the fifth-highest domestic grosser of all time, roughly $13 million behind 2015’s “Jurassic World.” This weekend’s take will narrow that gap, and the film will likely become the fourth-highest-grossing domestic film of all time in the coming weeks.

Roadside Attractions’ “I Can Only Imagine” slipped one spot from last weekend to land in No. 4 with a still solid $10 million. With the addition of this weekend’s total, the film will have earned over $50 million in North America. Starring J. Michael Finlay and Dennis Quaid, the film tells the story behind the best-selling Christian single of all time, MercyMe’s “I Can Only Imagine.” The surprise box office hit added another 395 theaters to its range to take advantage of Easter weekend.

Sliding from its No. 1 opening weekend is Universal’s “Pacific Rim Uprising” in the fifth place spot with around $9 million from 3,708 sites. The number marks a 67% decline from the film’s premiere weekend — 2013’s “Pacific Rim” dropped by 57% between its first two weekends. Starring John Boyega, “Uprising” sees a new generation of fighters facing the supernatural Kaiju monsters. The film is at a 45% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 53% Audience Score and B CinemaScore. Following the model set by its predecessor, “Uprising” has seen stronger numbers internationally, where it has earned over $120 million for a global tally of more than $160 million.

Other Easter-timed films include Sony-Affirm’s “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” which opened last weekend at 1,473 sites and should bring in $3.5 million through Sunday for a total of $11.6 million. Pureflix’s “God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness” will open to just over $3 million at 1,693 theaters.

‘Ready Player One’ to Storm Domestic Box Office With $53 Million

Watch this AI figure out how to place blocks in Minecraft

Artificial intelligence doesn’t compare favorably to humans when it comes to problem solving. Ask any eight year old child to place a few blocks on a grid in Minecraft and they’ll almost certainly be bored by the task. A computer, on the other hand, doesn’t grasp such difficult concepts so easily.

Stephan Alaniz, a researcher with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Technische Universitat Berlin, yesterday published a white paper titled “Deep Reinforcement Learning with Model Learning and Monte Carlo Tree Search in Minecraft.” In his paper the scientist explains his efforts to create a superior method for training an AI to perform simple tasks based on visual input.

If we’re ever going to have robots that can live and work among humans seamlessly without damaging us or our property they’re going to have to understand how to interact with the environment using visual context. One of the most popular ways to train AI for this task is using video games with simple controls.

We can judge an AI’s effectiveness at completing specific tasks in a structured environment, like Minecraft, by comparing it to human efforts.

Watching the above video, it’s apparent that AI – even one that’s shown to be more effective than other agents trained to perform similar tasks – isn’t very good at doing simple things yet. But developing cutting-edge technology takes time — though advances in machine learning techniques are happening at a terrifying pace.

Future research will drive training times down, effectiveness up, and generate new ideas for algorithms that further blur the lines between artificial and human intelligence.

But for now, it’s interesting enough to watch an AI process hundreds of different moves as it tries to figure out a simple block placing challenge in Minecraft. It might be worth remembering, in the future, how simple these things were when they began learning.

The Next Web’s 2018 conference is just a few months away, and it’ll be 💥💥. Find out all about our tracks here.

Watch this AI figure out how to place blocks in Minecraft

Keywords acquired 11 game services firms in 2017 as external development grows

You may not have heard about Keywords before, but it has become a big player behind the scenes in external game development. Headed by CEO Andrew Day, the company acquired 11 game development services companies in 2017. It has amassed more than 5,000 employees

Keywords was founded as a game localization company in 1998 in London, and it went public in 2013. It now has facilities in 42 locations in 20 countries and four continents. The company provides just about any services for games, including art, engineering, audio, localization, player support, and game testing.

The biggest game companies use Keywords to launch their games in multiple languages on the same day across the globe. It tests those games to make sure that they work properly across platforms and regions. In November 2017, it acquired Seattle-based VMC Consulting, which was the biggest North American company testing video games.

I caught up with Day at the recent Game Developers Conference to talk about the global market for game development. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Above: Keywords Studios CEO Andrew Day.

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: Tell us about Keywords.

Andrew Day: What Keywords is today isn’t what Keywords was. We started as a localization company, actually, localizing business software. Then, as games started to be localized, we found a niche for our services where we could marry the highly creative, immersive localization of storytelling in games with a more tool-based localization that’s used in business software. We created a bit of a niche of ourselves.

We became specialized in language services for video games, both the translation and testing of video games. Video games are made simultaneously in multiple languages, unlike film and TV, where it’s sequentially produced. Games are particularly complex, and often very story-driven, very rich in content. Cultural adaptation for games is complex. It’s a very specialized skill set. That’s where we started.

We saw that the games market as a whole was very imbalanced and a little bit fragile. You have very large global publishers, and they’re relying on hundreds of small companies for outsource services, just like Keywords in the 2000s. It seemed very imbalanced. You don’t see that in other industries. Hundreds of small companies, country by country, service line by service line. We thought this couldn’t continue. There would have to be some consolidation. If you’re a large company and you want to act more strategically with outsource providers, there’s nobody to engage with, nobody of any scale or sophistication, with the business acumen and transparency and financial strength and so on.

We set ourselves up to lead the consolidation in the industry, bringing together all these capabilities, all this expertise, and making it available to our clients. None of what we do can we use ourselves. Everything we do is for our clients. When we’re buying another company, adding it to the Keywords family, we’re not taking that talent for ourselves. We make that talent available to all the video game companies out there.

We’re providing a framework, a financial backbone. We’re using our management tools to control what we’re doing so we can be efficient. High utilization rates. Decent levels of profitability. Good investment.

Above: Keywords develops across all platforms.

Image Credit: Keywords

GamesBeat: How big are you now?

Day: We’re now 5,000 people around the world in 42 locations. We’re about a third in Asia, a third in North America, and a third in Europe. We have, for instance, about 700-800 people in China, 250 in Tokyo, 350 in Manila, and 500 in India. Here in North America we have about 900 people in the U.S., and then about 1,500 in Canada. The U.S. people are in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

GamesBeat: So even in some high-cost areas?

Day: Yes. What we do—we’re not an offshore outsourcing company. The skill sets are very specific to video games and to interactive content generally. It’s more about the skill than it is about finding low cost centers. You can’t find the talent. You can’t find people that can translate games into 30 languages in India. You have to be where the talent is. Also, where we can, we want to be near our clients.

We’re able to do a two-footed approach. We have one foot on the west coast and one foot in India or China, which helps manage communications, manage cultural expectations on things like art creation, and still get some benefit of lower costs. But it’s really not about cost so much. That’s important, but more important is the efficiency, getting it right the first time, and the overall service. If, through delivery of what we do, we put a lot of burden on the client side to manage it, it doesn’t add up.

GamesBeat: The platforms that are your most popular, are there any in the lead there?

Day: We’re agnostic to platform. About 30 percent of our business is on mobile and the rest is on PC and console. VR/AR is also an important component of what we do. But it’s really across the board. We don’t differentiate internally in terms of how we manage the business by hardware type. Obviously we’re investing in all the new hardware as it comes out so we can test and develop on it. We’re authorized by all the major platform holders to get development kits and test kits and so on.

Above: Keywords acquired 11 companies in 2017.

Image Credit: Keywords

GamesBeat: I wrote a story about the people who made Cuphead out of Canada. They’re a small company, two dozen people at peak, and in the last six months they got into a deal with a company called Illogika and doubled the size of their team. It sounded like an emergency move, but not the usual way something like that would happen in your business.

Day: There’s all sorts of business in our business. There is the situation where a client’s got a problem and they need help and we can dig them out. But more of it is planned. We have reasonable visibility. Our clients share with us their slate of work for the coming year. They let us know what they want us to help them with so we can plan ahead a bit. That’s important for everyone.

The repeat business is very high. There’s a lot of trust in this. Games are very complex. Not many organizations out there have worked on these big games before. When you get into that highly agile process, which game development is, it doesn’t suit a lot of more structured companies. I can imagine, if you come from software services generally and you find yourself in the game space, you’d think, “My God, what is this about? I’ve never seen something quite so chaotic.”

GamesBeat: I’m reading Jason Schreier’s book right now.

Day: Yes, yes.

GamesBeat: He found a bunch of stories from game development, whether it’s Naughty Dog at 500 people or one guy making Stardew Valley for five years.

Day: Lots of different ways of cracking the same nut, potentially.

GamesBeat: A lot of crunch.

Day: Well, this is the other thing about the industry. The way I look at it, the industry has only been around for 30-odd years. When people started to make games they had to do everything themselves, internally, because there was no other way of doing it. A lot of our clients have built their business in that same mode. They haven’t had time to stop and think. “If I were starting this business today, would this be the way I’d build it?”

They describe themselves as publishers, but they actually have all the means for production as well. They’ve become very large organizations. There must be a lot of overhead in managing a large testing department, or a translation workflow where you’re dealing with 10 or 20 or 30 different vendors to make 20 different language versions of a game. People perpetuate those behaviors. You can understand, in part, why they do that.

But our whole idea is we’ve now created the scale and geographic reach such that, for those clients that want to, they can offload some of those activities on us and focus on what is strategically important to them, which is always about the IP, commercializing the IP and being able to tweak the player experience to make that better, more engaging, keep the player for longer. If you keep the player longer you have the chance of getting more revenue. The trend toward games as a service has been very fast, very demanding, adding a lot of complexity to our clients. One way they can manage some of this complexity is to offload some of the services side, which might now look like a distraction.

GamesBeat: Have you developed any technology on that front in the way that PlayFab or GameSparks did?

Day: We have some of our own tech. We’re always developing tools and stuff internally that enable us to handle assets better, to produce art audio pipelines that are more efficient, and automated testing.

GamesBeat: Is your focus more on the development side than running a game once it’s launched?

Day: Yeah, the live ops stuff—I would love to be more involved in data analytics and predictive analytics. What we do is player support. We have a large team of customer support people that are passionate gamers themselves, that can resolve a lot of issues on first-time contact with players on behalf of our customers. We have chat bots and stuff available to us as well where that makes sense. We can use a bit of AI and tech, but a lot of what we do is people-oriented. The technology that we adopt, such as machine translation and so on, that has a role to play, but ultimately, to make a really beautiful, compelling game, I don’t think you can get away from humans.

GamesBeat: Would Streamline Studios be another comparison, then?

Day: Yes, I know Streamline. They’re a competitor of ours in a single area. They would compete with us in art creation. We have more than a thousand artists working for most of the large game companies, creating art assets for their games. Some of that we go right into the fully integrated pipeline. We have access to the game engine and we can do all the animation and art delivery right into the engine. Some is it still more along the lines of, “Can you produce 300 characters?” And then the client integrates them. But increasingly we’re becoming more integrated in the production pipeline.

GamesBeat: It seems like there are some specialists out there in the space, like Scalefast. They handle that e-commerce section. And then there are the other live operations companies. It’s all a form of outsourcing, but in bits and pieces.

Day: Yeah, that’s the whole point. It’s all in bits and pieces. You get lots of small companies that are probably good at what they do, but it’s still quite hard for our clients, the big game companies, to partner with these small companies. For us, the ability to do—we have seven service lines, for art, engineering co-development, audio, functional testing, localization testing, translation, customer support.

Being able to do all of that scale to support triple-A games, the world’s leading mobile games—a lot of it is this relentless cadence of games as a service. That becomes really hard for people to do. But we’ve been living with that for a while now in the mobile side of the business.

GamesBeat: I remember that MZ had their real time translation process. They built a real time infrastructure for mobile games. I wonder how well that could work. Their goal was to have a worldwide game, with people talking to each other in real time across cultural lines.

Day: We work with MZ and do that translation for them and so on. I wouldn’t—it’s daily and weekly.

GamesBeat: It’s not that easy.

Day: No, it’s not something for machines. It depends what you’re doing. You can use machine translation for certain types of content, where it’s not about how enjoyable is so much as just being able to make it understood. If you have a really good machine translation engine, of which there are not many, you can make a lot of content understandable. But actually making it enjoyable is a completely different challenge. I think it’ll be a while before that sort of vision can become a reality, where you can take all content in real time and make it consumable in 20, 30, 40, 50 languages.

Above: Keywords has offices in the U.S. as well for external development.

Image Credit: Keywords

GamesBeat: With localization you’d hope you could get there are some point. Kate Edwards always talks about the “culturalization” work she has to do, though.

Day: Yes, I know Kate. We live with that every single day. That’s exactly what our guys do. The colors that you choose, or the symbols you have on walls in the background, all of that. Our guys are experts at that. That’s part of our role, to try and prevent our clients from making gaffes.

GamesBeat: What kind of specialists do you have in that area?

Day: We have subject matter experts. Depending on what type of game it is, we’ll have people that understand the history of the game, the backdrop to the game, the specific nature of things like tanks or battleships or whatever is part of the game. If it’s a children’s game we’ll have different people working on that type of content compared to working on a shooter. It’s very adapted to the content itself. You can’t treat all content the same. It’s all very different.

Increasingly now, we’re able to develop—we can do full game development. We can do co-development projects, where somebody like Ubisoft has five of their own internal studios working on Assassin’s Creed Origins, and a Keywords studio working on that game as well. We can work alongside them doing one specific aspect of the game.

GamesBeat: I’ve talked to a few iOS developers here about the difficult of developing on both iOS and Android. They’re choosing to go first on iOS and then have someone else handle the Android version, because of the fragmentation of the Android hardware.

Day: We do quite a lot of that. It’s not just iOS and Android. It’s also PC to console or console to PC, or back catalog stuff that’s going to be remastered for current generations.

GamesBeat: Do you do a lot of work for Switch?

Day: Yeah, we do Switch ports as well. Obviously there’s a lot of interest in Switch, a lot of Switch porting going on. It’s a very large, very vibrant, very demanding environment out there. I think we’re going to continue to grow. We’re growing very strongly and organically, just from repeat business with our clients, getting a bit more share all the time as we prove ourselves.

Acquisitions are also a big part of the Keywords story. We acquired 11 companies last year. The year before that it was eight and the year before that it was another eight. This fragmentation is enormous. Companies like to be part of the Keywords family, where we can relieve some of the financial pressure of running your own business and bring a lot more work to their door. At the same time, our clients like it because we’re able to put some financial footing underneath these companies worldwide, making them more solid and more easy for our clients to trust and partner work in more engaging work.

Above: Keywords

Image Credit: Keywords

GamesBeat: How are financial results?

Day: Our revenues for this year are expected to be round about $308 million (250 million euros). I have to be careful here. I think the consensus from the analysts is around $43 million (35 million euros) in profit margin. We’re publicly traded in London. But of course those numbers are before any acquisitions. Any acquisitions we make this year will affect those.

It’s interesting, when you try to look at Keywords and the trajectory. It’s quite hard to follow. When you’re making as many acquisitions as we make, you have to try to get to the underlying revenues and profits of the business, rather than just the publicly quoted figures. At least on a historic basis. Looking forward, the numbers that you see exclude the effect of acquisitions. You have to add however many, six to 10 acquisitions that we might make during the year.

The good thing about it is that everyone who’s sold their business to Keywords has made some money, but they’ve stayed at Keywords, and they’re probably working harder than they’ve ever worked before. It’s not because we’ve got any handcuffs on them. They’re enjoying it. It’s a very exciting place to be.

We’ve gotten to this point from just being one of these small service providers in a single geography. We employed 50 people and had revenues of 3.5 million euros. Now we have a market capitalization of more than a billion euros. It’s growing fast.

Keywords acquired 11 game services firms in 2017 as external development grows

I Still Can’t Believe Microsoft Spent $2.5 Billion to Acquire Minecraft

In 2014, $2.5 billion might have looked like a lofty price tag, but each passing year is proving that “Minecraft” is more than just a game.

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is no stranger to acquisitions. The company has written big checks within the last decade in order to purchase assets like LinkedIn and Skype, but even with its history of big buyouts, the decision to acquire Minecraft and its developer Mojang for $2.5 billion is one that stands out.

Minecraft doesn’t have flashy visuals or huge action set pieces. What’s more, its underlying technology isn’t something that ties into Microsoft’s other segments, and shelling out $2.5 billion for a studio dedicated to the ongoing development of a game that first released in 2009 was a bold move. That’s especially true because Microsoft has a checkered history when it comes to video game related acquisitions. However, the more time passes since the deal, the more it looks like Microsoft made a smart move.

An island in the game Minecraft.

Image source: Microsoft.

The world of Minecraft

For those unfamiliar with Minecraft, the game is like a virtual sandbox. Players can create their own worlds, socialize, and explore content created by other users. It’s sort of like a virtual Lego experience mixed with elements of social media — and the game is enormously popular.

Minecraft had sold roughly 50 million copies when Microsoft acquired Mojang in 2014. Today, the title’s sales have passed 144 million units, the third most of any game ever — and it looks like there’s still a long sales life ahead.

Minecraft isn’t a fad. It’s become a fixture in the gaming world, a sort of genre and platform unto itself, and Mojang’s title continues to add to a long list of sales and engagement achievements.

The game currently stands as the second-best-selling paid app on iOS according to AppAnnie, and it’s putting up great sales on other platforms as well. Minecraft released on Nintendo’s 3DS portable console last November and was the system’s seventh-best-selling game for that month, its third-best-selling game in December, and its fifth-best-selling game in both January and February. The title was the eighth-best-selling Nintendo Switch game in 2017.

Minecraft merchandise and spinoff content have also proven to be hits, with themed bedding, clothing, toy lines, and a YouTube miniseries produced by Mattel representing just a small slice of what’s out there across mediums. There’s even a big-budget Minecraft film in development.

A first-person viewpoint of a Minecraft player looking at six other players.

Image source: Microsoft.

Minecraft is building bridges

In addition to putting up great sales numbers, Microsoft is using Minecraft to expand into new areas and take advantage of some emerging opportunities. The education-tech space is one area where that dynamic is evident. In 2016, Microsoft and Mojang released Minecraft: Education Edition — a version of the hit game designed for classroom use. Tech companies including Microsoft see a lot of opportunity in having a top position in ed tech, and Minecraft has the potential to be a significant asset in the space.

Educational video games have been around for decades, but Mojang’s magnum opus is unique in that it was already enormously successful before being adapted for teaching use. The game’s popularity and flexibility set the stage for continued evolution, with new tools and features being added that shape the broader world of Minecraft.

In February, Mojang debuted a chemistry-themed resource pack to Education Edition, and Microsoft also recently announced that an online Minecraft experience had helped teach 85 million people some basic computer coding principles.

The Education Edition suite had crossed two million users as of November. With the company charging $5 per student per year, that comes out to annual revenue of $10 million — not a bad start roughly 12 months out from release but still only scratching the surface of potential ed-tech subscription revenue and import. Minecraft: Education Edition also requires an Office365 subscription in order to log in, a move that gives schools another reason to stick with Microsoft’s operating system and software suite.

Building a multiplatform position

Minecraft has put a Microsoft property on nearly every modern gaming and computing device. At a time when many of the video game industry’s big hits are transitioning to a platform agnostic model, that’s giving the company some valuable data for future software releases and strengthening its presence on emerging computing platforms.

A man viewing Minecraft through Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality glasses.

Image source: Microsoft.

Minecraft is already one of the big software draws for virtual-reality headsets — perhaps the closest thing there is to a killer app in mixed reality at the moment. Along those lines, chief technology officer at Facebook‘s Oculus division and game development legend John Carmack once said that Minecraft was the single most important virtual-reality game.

Microsoft has also made the game a part of its own push into the mixed-reality space. One of the first demos for the company’s HoloLens augmented-reality headset featured users transposing the game on to real-world surfaces. The HoloLens hardware is still a long way from going mainstream at the consumer level, but Microsoft has also put the game front and center in promoting its Windows Mixed Reality platform.

A great asset at a good price

In Minecraft, Microsoft appears to have purchased an asset that will pay for itself in relatively short order and help the company strengthen its business outside of gaming. Mojang reported $126 million in profits on $259 million in sales in 2013. That means that Microsoft paid roughly 20 times Mojang’s trailing earnings to acquire the developer in 2014 — a price that’s looking pretty nice in light of Minecraft‘s continued performance.

The game’s sales and margins have likely gotten better since the acquisition based on unit sales growth and the addition of in-game purchases to the title. When you factor in the potential for continued growth and the other ways that the game is an asset to the company, Microsoft made a great move acquiring Minecraft and Mojang.

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I Still Can’t Believe Microsoft Spent $2.5 Billion to Acquire Minecraft