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What’s happened to Minecraft Pocket Edition?

Minecraft Pocket Edition
Out of Pocket: the mobile version is now simply 'Minecraft'

Minecraft Pocket Edition is no more. The branding Gods at Microsoft have killed it off and replaced it with… Minecraft. Yes, things have gone a little nuts.

Here’s what’s happened…

Until now, the mobile version of Minecraft has been branded as Minecraft Pocket Edition. However, this summer the developers have been working on something called the Better Together update, which unifies the versions of Minecraft designed for mobiles, Windows 10, the Xbox One and virtual reality devices. So, if you play Minecraft on an Android smartphone, you can now play with chums on an Xbox One console, for example.

Obviously, nobody fits an Xbox One or Windows 10 laptop into their pocket, so the name ‘Minecraft Pocket Edition’ has become a misnomer, hence the change to simply ‘Minecraft’.

Minecraft Java Edition

Minecraft Java Edition

Hang about, I hear you say. Wasn’t there already a version of Minecraft for the PC that was simply referred to as Minecraft? Yes, there was. Which is why the PC version of the game will henceforth be known as Minecraft Java Edition. It’s an entirely different branch of the game from the version aimed at Windows 10 devices, which works on any version of Windows. Indeed, Windows 10 users can have both Minecraft and Minecraft Java Edition installed on the same computer. There’s no cross-play between Minecraft and Minecraft Java Edition – they are two separate versions of the same game.

Console versions

So, what, you might be wondering, is happening with the versions of Minecraft designed for consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch and Wii U? These versions of the game are effectively being left to rot. You will still be able to play the game you’ve purchased, but it won’t be updated in future.

Nintendo Switch owners will be offered the Better Together update later this year, bringing them into the same fold as Xbox One, Windows 10 and mobile players.

The news is bleaker for PlayStation owners. Sony is reportedly none too happy about the idea of cross-play between PlayStation and Xbox consoles, and is thus refusing to support Better Together. Which means millions of PlayStation-owning Minecrafters are going to be saddled with an outdated, decaying version of Minecraft unless Sony comes to its senses or Microsoft backs down and decides to update the PlayStation version separately. Watch this space.

Minecraft versions table

So to summarise, the new versions are as follows:

Version Devices supported
Minecraft Android and iOS devices, Windows 10, Xbox One and virtual reality headsets (Nintendo Switch coming later this year)
Minecraft Java Edition Windows and Linux PCs, Macs
Console editions PlayStation 3/4, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch (for time being) and Wii U

One more thing…

If your kids are into Minecraft, look out for Mineworld in your local magazine emporium. It’s really rather good… and you may just recognise the name of the editor.

Mineworld magazine

Read next: Why is Minecraft overcharging parents?

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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