If it was tough to pull the kids away from their screens while playing Minecraft, it's going to get even tougher when they're completely lost in the game while wearing a VR headset.
The first major virtual headset manufacturer to pull off a truly immersive Minecraft world is Samsung. Announced in San Francisco during the annual Game Developers Conference, theMinecraft virtual reality experience is coming to the Gear VR this spring.
Microsoft bought the game franchise two years ago along with Mojang, the studio that developed it, for $2.5 billion. Since then the company, which also has its own augmented reality headset called HoloLens, has pushed the game onto as many platforms as it can.
Minecraft in virtual reality is seemingly the last frontier in terms of platform play to bringing the block-building universe as close to real life as possible. It's like playing Legos but in a video game that players can actually lose themselves in, and that's an entirely plausible reality.
Three years ago, Microsoft announced that Minecraft players have spent countless hours playing the game on the Xbox 360. That's just on the Xbox and that's just on a 2D screen. It will be interesting to observe its impact in a virtual reality environment on multiple virtual reality and augmented reality systems.
Samsung got first dibs, and first movers always tend to get a nice, big lead, but some reviewers have deemed the Samsung port of the game rather “mehhh.” It could be that in order to push that game out quickly, Microsoft simply slapped a 2D version of Minecraft onto the Gear VR's eyepieces. Reports of a wonky in-game camera, unfriendly inventory and health menu UIs as well as small text were some of the complaints.
After the Gear VR, however, Minecraft will be coming to Facebook's Oculus Rift headset, which has considerably more computing power behind it than Samsung's smartphone-connected VR solution.
Of course, the Oculus Rift is without a doubt incredibly expensive compared to the Gear VR and that's just for the headset. The added cost of a PC that's powerful enough to run the device is another expense to consider. Nonetheless, Minecraft on the Oculus Rift is expected to offer a much more immersive experience.
Microsoft, too, probably has even bigger plans to bring a bigger version Minecraft to its HoloLens headset. Since HoloLens offers an augmented reality experience, the device will meld our real world with Minecraft's block-building world. Of that, reporters have described early builds of the game on the HoloLens as “so damn cool.”