Indie sensation Minecraft is coming to smartphones this year… but it won’t be coming to iOS first. Instead, it’ll debut on Android as an exclusive to the so-called PlayStation Phone, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. It’s a betrayal that especially hurts given the fact that Minecraft was briefly available on the App Store last year.
According to Minecraft lead developer Notch, Minecraft — Pocket Edition will be expressly built to take advantage of the Xperia Play’s unique hardware controls, including PlayStation-like shoulder buttons and D-pads.
This doesn’t mean that Minecraft isn’t coming to iOS… but it does mean that Sony Ericsson paid Mojang a pretty penny for an exclusive window. It’s an exclusive the Xperia Play — which launched last month in Europe — desperately needs, as sales of are terrible, especially for the Play’s exclusive games. From an iPhone owner’s perspective, though, that exclusive is trouble: depending on how long that window is, we could be waiting awhile for Minecraft to hit the App Store.
Also distressing: this means that, at least in the short term, Minecraft — Pocket Edition isn’t being built from the ground up for touchscreen controls only, but for a weird hybrid of multitouch and physical buttons that will never be available on an iDevice.
Frustrating news all around. Not only do iPhone and iPad owners have to wait longer for Minecraft to hit the App Store, but it’s likely to be half-baked compared to the Xperia Play version. For those of us who think the iPad is the perfect platform for building our infinite, voxel-based worlds, this is sad indeed.