Mojang

Minecraft Earth starts rolling out in beta in Seattle and London

Posted by | Gaming, Minecraft, Mojang, TC | No Comments

If you’ve been waiting to check out Minecraft Earth (Mojang’s Pokémon GO-style augmented reality reimagining of its hugely popular game, Minecraft), good news: it’s starting to roll out to some people now.

The catch? It’s only available to a slice-of-a-slice of the world, at first.

After opening a registration system for its closed beta just a few days ago, the company says that it sent out the first batch of beta invites this afternoon.

crafty

The beta is being rolled out on a region-by-region basis, with randomly picked players in Seattle and London getting access at first. Mojang says more cities should go live in “the next few days,” but doesn’t get any more specific than that.

It’s also worth noting that the beta is iOS only for now; Android support is on the way, but it won’t land until later this summer.

Our own Devin Coldewey went hands-on with an early build of Minecraft Earth a few months ago — check out his first impressions here.

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How Roblox avoided the gaming graveyard and grew into a $2.5B company

Posted by | Activision, Apple, Apps, Atlassian, Club-Penguin, Computer games, dave baszucki, David Sze, EC-1, engineering, Facebook, Friendster, funding, Fundings & Exits, fundraising tactics, Gaming, Google, Greylock Partners, Growth, growth tactics, Habbo-Hotel, IMVU, king.com, Kongregate, Mark Zuckerberg, Media, Metaplace, Mojang, MySpace, Roblox, Second-Life, Startups, TC, video games, Virtual reality, Windows | No Comments

There are successful companies that grow fast and garner tons of press. Then there’s Roblox, a company which took at least a decade to hit its stride and has, relative to its current level of success, barely gotten any recognition or attention.

Why has Roblox’s story gone mostly untold? One reason is that it emerged from a whole generation of gaming portals and platforms. Some, like King.com, got lucky or pivoted their business. Others by and large failed.

Once companies like Facebook, Apple and Google got to the gaming scene, it just looked like a bad idea to try to build your own platform — and thus not worth talking about. Added to that, founder and CEO Dave Baszucki seems uninterested in press.

But overall, the problem has been that Roblox just seemed like an insignificant story for many, many years. The company had millions of users, sure. So did any number of popular games. In its early days, Roblox even looked like Minecraft, a game that was released long after Roblox went live, but that grew much, much faster.

Yet here we are today: Roblox now claims that half of all American children aged 9-12 are on its platform. It has jumped to 90 million monthly unique users and is poised to go international, potentially multiplying that number. And it’s unique. Essentially all other distribution services offering games through a portal have eventually fizzled, aside from some distant cousins like Steam.

This is the story of how Roblox not only survived, but built a thriving platform.

Seeds of an idea

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(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Before Roblox, there was Knowledge Revolution, a company that made teaching software. While designed to allow students to simulate physics experiments, perhaps predictably, they also treated it like a game.

“The fun seemed to be in building your own experiment,” says Baszucki. “When people were playing it and we went into schools and labs, they were all making car crashes and buildings fall down, making really funny stuff.” Provided with a sandbox, kids didn’t just make dry experiments about mass or velocity — they made games, or experiences they could show off to friends for a laugh.

Knowledge Revolution was founded in 1989, by Dave Baszucki and his brother Greg (who didn’t later co-found Roblox, but is now on its board). Nearly a decade later, it was acquired for $20 million by MSC Software, which made professional simulation tools. Dave continued there for another four years before leaving to become an angel investor.

Baszucki put money into Friendster, a company that pre-dated Facebook and MySpace in the social networking category. That investment seeded another piece of the idea for Roblox. Taken together, the legacy of Knowledge Revolution and Friendster were the two key components undergirding Roblox: a physics sandbox with strong creation tools, and a social graph.

Baszucki himself is a third piece of the puzzle. Part of an older set of entrepreneurs, which might be called the Steve Jobs generation, Baszucki’s archetype seems closer to Mr. Rogers than Jobs himself: unfailingly polite and enthusiastic, never claiming superior insight, and preferring to pass credit for his accomplishments on to others. In conversation, he shows interests both central and tangential to Roblox, like virtual environments, games, education, digital identity and the future of tech. Somewhere in this heady mix, the idea of Roblox came about.

The first release

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Minecraft’s cross-platform ‘Better Together’ update arrives in beta

Posted by | Gaming, Microsoft, Minecraft, Mojang, TC | No Comments

 Minecraft’s “Better Together Update” is rolling out now in beta, for players on Windows 10 PCs and Android devices. That means players on either platform with the beta installed will be able to participate in games from either type of device, together in cross-platform play.
This update was originally revealed at E3 back in June, and includes other feature additions like… Read More

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Minecraft support for Oculus Rift is finally almost here

Posted by | Gaming, Microsoft, Minecraft, Mojang, TC, Virtual reality, Windows 10 | No Comments

1 Oculus Minecraft After months of teasing, Microsoft is finally almost ready to give Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta users a taste of VR. In a blog post celebrating the first anniversary of Minecraft Windows 10 Edition Beta, Microsoft announced that support for the Oculus Rift will be coming “in the next few weeks” as a free update to existing users. People who want to get in on the action have… Read More

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