'Minecraft Earth' adds stay-at-home features as 'Pokémon Go' spends rise

'Minecraft Earth,' like 'Pokémon Go,' is encouraging players to play in a single, static location

Location-based games continue to adapt to COVID-19 containment strategies, though some "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite" players urge more comprehensive action.

Microsoft's "Minecraft Earth," much like Niantic's "Pokémon Go," is altering some of its core gameplay features to allow players to stay involved without going out.

A new type of virtual item, the Adventure Crystal, allows players to begin a "Minecraft Earth" survival mode Adventure from anywhere without having to go out of their way to find one.

The Crystals can be found not only in Adventure Chests, obtainable once an Adventure has been completed, but also what the location-based mobile game calls Tappables -- resources such as virtual rocks, plants and animals.

Consequently, the frequency and density of Tappables is being increased, further reducing or eliminating the need to travel in order to play.

"Pokémon Go" has been enacting similar measures, reversing the normal flow of play so that regulars, returning players and newcomers don't have to leave their houses as anti-COVID-19 lockdown policies roll out worldwide.

Rather than experience a downturn, market analyst Sensor Tower estimates that "Pokémon Go" revenue actually increased by 66% for the week of March 16, it told VentureBeat, a result of increased leisure time and the game's altered play style.

However, not all players have received the message that they can play at home.

Madrid's police department, for example, tweeted a photo of the fine they administered to a 77-year-old who had ventured into the streets during a nationwide lockdown to hunt Pokémon.

To this end, players of Niantic's other licensed AR game, "Harry Potter: Wizards Unite," have been calling for further adjustments to discourage non-essential excursions.

"This current [community] event asks for you to go out and hit inns and fortresses. Don't unless you're absolutely safe," wrote one on the game's official forums. "I'm appalled that the event wasn't altered for current circumstances ... Please let this one go. We've already had 2 people in our store alone out of work due to corona. Please let this event go."

"From reading the comments on other threads it looks like the 'Harry Potter: Wizards Unite' team tried, but was not able to get rid of that one task," another wrote elsewhere on the site.