Looks like the Minecraft juggernaut isn't slowing down. After expanding to alternate reality and the Wii U, Microsoft decided to outright buy out licensed educational spin-off MinecraftEdu, learn lessons about how to have others learn, bring it in-house, and make it into a subscription-based model named Minecraft: Education Edition.
|Screencap from their YouTube channel's trailer video.|
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Here's an excerpt of Microsoft's statement on the matter:
“We’ve already seen [Minecraft] transform classrooms and curriculum. Since 2011, MinecraftEDU from TeacherGaming LLC from Finland – a version of Minecraft built especially for the classroom – has reached thousands of classrooms in more than 40 countries around the world, all reporting wild success. We don’t want to stop there. We believe this is just the beginning.If you're wondering, TeacherGaming LLC will continue with non-MinecraftEdu education-using-games projects. If you want to know some further details about the differences between MinecraftEdu and Minecraft: Education Edition, that url outlines some of 'em. One of these is the availability of modifications (MinecraftEdu allows these but Minecraft: Education Edition won't) and the fact that MinecraftEdu is a one-time perpetually-lasting license (that will continue even after Minecraft: Education Edition's implementation) while Minecraft: Education Edition is a subscription-based model. Another is that Minecraft: Education Edition will have a Student Portfolio, and requires you to log-in from the school's local-area network. (MinecraftEdu can have kids bringing it home if they use it for school learning purposes.)
Today, we’re excited to announce Microsoft is acquiring MinecraftEdu and investing in a new and expanded version of Minecraft for the classroom called Minecraft: Education Edition. This new title – available as a free trial this summer – will build on the learnings from MinecraftEdu while offering an expanded set of features. And in support of MinecraftEdu customers, they can continue to use MinecraftEdu and we will offer the first year of Minecraft: Education Edition for free.”
There's a trend at play with Microsoft here, and it has to do with their revenue model.
Microsoft actually makes it really obvious. So obvious, it surprised me how up-front it was.
Office 365 is something you probably need to stay away from. Software companies are trying to get you to get hooked on their subscription models because it generally benefits them a lot more than it benefits you. Making Minecraft: Education Edition subscription-based is an obvious continuation of that, and now they're literally trying to connect Office 365 and Minecraft: Education Edition together. You'd think those don't have anything to do with one another... you'd think.
“What do I need to buy to get started with Minecraft: Education Edition?When Minecraft: Education Edition launches this summer, purchasing will be easy. If your school or district already has Office 365, you will be three clicks from getting Minecraft for some or all of your students. If you don’t have Office 365 accounts already, signup will be simple and free. With the Office ProPlus Student Benefit, students and teachers can sign up for Office 365 at no additional cost and then purchase Minecraft for a few users or for everyone.”
|If you bought your own MinecraftEdu server and 25 licenses for your kids [computer lab computers] and the teacher, it'd be $391.|
Meanwhile, Minecraft: Education Edition will not offer server-hosting like MinecraftEdu does (for $25 a month, which is probably where the profit comes from). With MinecraftEdu, you can choose to host it yourself or use TeacherGaming LLC's hosting. What will the price for Minecraft: Education Edition be?
We don't really know yet...
“How much does it cost?$5 * 25 people + $41 (we'll say the cost of the server is the same) is $166. So yeah, if you're only going to have this for one year, then it's the better deal to have the subscription service over a you-keep-this-license-forever purchase. But assuming the school sees the value of having a Minecraft-based educational program, then you start getting ripped off in year 3.
We will have pricing information online at http://education.minecraft.net before this school year is out, so educators can plan for spending and software deployments. We understand the financial demands on today’s educators and are committed to make Minecraft: Education Edition as affordable and accessible as possible. Currently, our plans aim to keep the price at $5 per user per year.”
And you SHOULD do this for more than three years if you're serious and get past the free trial period. And you won't have the option to buy MinecraftEdu with its perpetual license in the future, so buy buy buy those licenses now before they go away! (Though I doubt any decision-makers are reading this, but who knows with search engine results these days!) Your students will still learn a lot no matter which one you buy — heck, some schools just use the commercial version of Minecraft and learn just fine.
|Screencap from that same trailer video.|
Someone needs to explain why a Microsoft-branded video prominently features THE COMPETITION'S computers?
By the way. With any luck, children will associate Minecraft with school and stop playing it at home because it's not cool to do school stuff in your free personal time. Could we finally see the tight grip that Minecraft has on our nation's impressionable youth loosen up? Kids can stop being really annoying Minecraft fans (and will probably obsess over something else that hopefully isn't ugly to view in a social media feed), and videogames get the esteem of being versatile educational tools.
Ludwig enjoys the idea of videogames being treated seriously as an educational medium, and wonders why other videogame companies (normally focused on entertainment) don't make strides in that area. Join the conversation... on www.koopatv.org!