Microsoft said Tuesday that it is making several educational activities normally reserved for its Minecraft: Education Edition available to the “Bedrock” editions found on the PC, Xbox, and other platforms—all for free.
It’s a recognition that kids may be stuck at home for weeks waiting out the coronavirus, stuck in an odd limbo between vacation and “learning from home.” To help, Microsoft has taken a number of lessons from its Minecraft: Education Edition and made them free to download until June 30, all as part of a new “Education” category. (Normally, Minecraft: EE content is specific to the classroom, with specific activities for students.)
Not only are there ways for kids to explore the inner workings of the human eye, or take a tour of the International Space Station, but the company has also thrown in 10 worlds from its creator community for free. Creators Everbloom, Jigarbov, Lifeboat, Razzleberries, and others have added worlds themed around renewable energy, marine biology, Greek history, and other topics. Normally, add-on content is paid for by “Minecoins,” which can be bought en masse by players.
Earlier this month, Minecraft made the Minecraft: Education Edition available for free for teachers with a Microsoft 365 Education account.
“I have previously stated that I believe gaming has a unique power to bring people together, to entertain, to inspire and connect us, and I believe that’s even more true under these unique circumstances,” Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, wrote in a blog post. “Many are looking to gaming to remain connected with their friends while practicing social distancing, and we are seeing an unprecedented demand for gaming from our customers right now.”
Minecraft is available on Android & iOS, Kindle Fire, Windows 10 PC, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Fire TV, Xbox One, Windows MR, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4.