Verizon’s Minecraft Mobile Network
US telecommunications company Verizon has extended its mobile phone network into Microsoft's top-selling sandbox game Minecraft, which has sold more than 70 million copies across all platforms.
In Minecraft, players create elaborate worlds using square building blocks. Existing landscapes include 3D recreations of classic paintings from the British Tate Gallery and scale models of the entire country of Denmark. Verizon has partnered with US marketing agency Wieden+Kennedy and Minecraft design specialists Blockworks to build a mobile network in the game that allows players to connect with each other and the world beyond.
To access the network, players must first build their own Verizon smartphones and signal towers in the game. They can then connect to any smartphone inside the game or outside of it to receive and send messages (including in-game selfies) and place video calls. This lets video-call recipients in the physical world talk to their friends' avatars in the game environment. The Minecraft phones also have a functioning web browser.
The majority of US households now have a dedicated gaming device, and when it comes to social gaming, players favour online sessions over meeting in person (American Entertainment Software Association, 2015). In addition, the digital worlds that gamers inhabit are also becoming more expansive – for instance, British developer Hello Games' highly anticipated title No Man's Sky promises 18 quintillion algorithmically generated planets to explore. Brands that want to connect with the growing gamer demographic need to figure out how they can become a welcome part of those worlds.