maker Mojang sees today's release of the Xperia Play timed-exclusive Minecraft Pocket Edition
as a system seller for the recently released, gaming-focused smartphone.
"I'm sure Minecraft
will help drive sales of the Xperia Play," Mojang managing director Carl Manneh told Gamasutra. "It will of course limit the audience [for the game], but it will be a target group very much into gaming."
Sony Ericsson shipped 7.9 million smartphones in the second quarter of 2011, a number that includes the launch of the Xperia Play as well as sales of other Xperia-branded phones such as the Arc and Neo.
The "Alpha 0.1" version of Minecraft Pocket Edition
that launches today will be somewhat limited compared to the popular PC version. Players will be able to use 36 block types to build worlds alone or with others on a LAN, but internet play and the survival-based gameplay from the original have not yet made the transition.
"Mostly... we didn't have the time to implement them," Manneh said of the missing features. "We wanted to get the Pocket Edition
out there as early as possible in order to get feedback from the community."
Even with extra development time, the mobile edition may never be a perfect port of the PC hit, which has sold over 3 million copies
in its lengthy beta.
"Some combat elements that require quick and precise input could be quite annoying," Manneh said by way of example. "The Pocket Edition
will be its own entity and will have specific features that make sense on a mobile device."
While Manneh promised other Android devices would get access to the pocket edition "rather quickly," he said the company "don't have any fixed plans for iOS yet."