Microsoft on November 1 will begin selling Minecraft Education Edition. The school-specific version of its megahit video game can help kids learn even as it turns them into new Microsoft customers.
The software will cost $5 per student per year, but it can also be purchased at the school district level, Microsoft said in an email to prospective customers Thursday. The Redmond, Washington-based company released an early-access test version of Minecraft Education Edition in June. It runs on Windows or Mac computers but requires players to sign up for a free Office 365 Education account.
"We're rolling out even more hot stuff in the November release build," Marsh Davies, a member of Microsoft's Mojang studio, which develops the game, said in a blog post ahead of the Minecon conference this week. That'll include the newest features like pistons and redstone circuitry for mechanical and electrical constructions, he said, and a classroom mode companion app for teachers overseeing their students.
Microsoft also is creating lesson plans, activities and other material for teachers.
Tech giants are trying to court the next generation through educational products. Apple, for instance, just released a tutorial app called Swift Playgrounds to teach its programming language. With its open-ended worlds, Minecraft can be used to teach everything from logic circuits to art history.
In Minecraft, blocky characters explore a blocky landscape with trees, mountains, lakes and underground resources that can be crafted into weapons and buildings that keep monsters called mobs at bay. You can play in a survival mode or a more open-ended creative mode with infinite resources. Microsoft and Mojang have sold more than 100 millions of copies of Minecraft.