Minecraft’s new Discovery Update later this spring will offer something new to explore: an in-app, paid marketplace of content that users can download for the company’s version of the game on the Xbox One and “pocket” mobile editions.
The update, due later this spring, stretches Minecraft in two directions. The new Minecraft Marketplace moves the UWP version of the game a bit closer to the moddable worlds familiar to classic players. Another new ability, exporting scenes to Windows 10’s Paint3D app, moves users toward Windows 10.
Initially, Microsoft plans to partner with nine content creators in the first iteration of the Minecraft Marketplace, though a partner program will encourage more to sign up. The Store will provide both “skins” of existing content, as well as new Adventure Maps, where content creators can provide their own custom worlds and rules to lay out a guided story for players to play through. The Store will be micro-transaction based, paying content creators more than 35 cents for every dollar players spend on their content.
Why this matters: What Microsoft now calls its “Bedrock” platforms—which include Windows 10’s native UWP app, as well as the Pocket editions for Android. iOS, Windows phones, GearVR, and others—have always faced the fundamental problem of UWP apps: They provide a consistent experience, but without the “anything goes” mod experience that defines the classic Java-based Windows app. Microsoft’s new Minecraft Store attempts to bridge that gap.
What the new Minecraft Marketplace means to you
If you’ve bought anything from Microsoft before, you probably won’t be surprised by what Microsoft is using to encourage consistency across the various Minecraft platforms: Xbox Live. If you sign up for or use your Xbox Live account, you’ll be able to keep using content purchased on one platform if you end up playing on another device.
What’s a bit different, though, is how you’ll pay for it all. Microsoft’s Store app and the Xbox Store use real dollars to buy games. In Minecraft, Microsoft is asking you to use Minecraft Coins, which can only be purchased in-app, and using real money. You’ll pay $1.99 for 300 coins, $4.99 for 840 coins, and $9.99 for 1,720 coins. Content creators can set the prices however high they want, but Microsoft executives said that they imagine self-contained Adventure Maps selling for between $3.99 to $5.99.
While we’ve yet to play any of the maps, some of them look simply incredible. Blockworks, which has 64 employees all working on massive Minecraft worlds, showed off one, called Scorching Sands, which challenged players to collect legendary weapons and defeat four boss monsters in a post-apocalyptic world. Another Blockworks map, known as Automaton Dreams, tasked players with collecting and crafting items before descending into the underworld to defeat a giant robot the size of a skyscraper. Other mods included pastel skin packs as well as as reskins to make Minecraft appear as if it were in the Stone Age. Partners include Sphax, Blockception, Noxcrew, and Polymaps, among others.