Minecraft Earth goes national: Microsoft’s augmented reality game now live across U.S.

A view of Minecraft Earth on Seattle’s Burke Gilman Trail. (GeekWire Photo / Joe Bergin)

Minecraft Earth, Microsoft’s take on the smartphone-enabled augmented reality gaming craze, made its U.S. debut after months of testing.

Microsoft said the early access version of Minecraft Earth is now available on Android and iOS devices in the U.S. The game already debuted in the U.K., Australia, Canada, Iceland, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Sweden and South Korea.

Like the smash hit Pokémon Go, Minecraft Earth layers its universe over the real world, and that takes a lot of planning and computing power. That’s why Microsoft is rolling the game out slowly, and it plans to achieve global availability by December.

Even though it is making its debut around the world, Minecraft Earth remains a work in progress. The early access version is the minimum feature set needed for a strong experience, but more content and features will be added in future updates.

The game takes Minecraft off the computer screen and brings the game into the real world — through the lens of a smartphone. Players collect items, go on quests and use their inventories to put together impressive structures that can be captured and shared. There’s important elements of cooperation in defeating bad guys in missions and collaborating on tabletop Buildplate structures that can be ballooned up to life-size scale.

Microsoft first teased the game in May at its Build developer conference and unveiled it a few days later. and The beta test began two months after that in five cities, including Seattle.

Microsoft bought Minecraft maker Mojang for $2.5 billion in 2014.

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