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Minecraft Heading to Xperia PLAY First

Gamasutra reports that Minecraft developer Mojang will port its popular block-building PC "sandbox" game to Sony Ericsson's Xperia PLAY smartphone first, supporting the PlayStation-certified phone's unique slide-out gamepad. The Xperia PLAY actually hits Verizon’s network on Thursday, priced at $199 with a two-year-contract. So far there's no indication of when this particular version will be ready to download and play.

The news follows previous reports released back in February that the indie developer was working on ports for the iPhone, iPad and Android OS in-house. As expected, the mobile versions of Minecraft won't feature the extensive control setup as seen with the PC counterpart. Instead, the game will incorporate features that "make sense" for the touch screen platform.

"When playing on smartphones you will have a different screen size compared to PC, different hardware, different attention spans and thus the game needs to be customized to fit the mobile specifications," the company said.

Bringing Minecraft to the Xperia PLAY first is really a no-brainer: the device has a control setup that could easily mimic the PC's gameplay using physical buttons like the thumbpads and directional pad. Other QWERTY smartphones such as the original Motorola DROID would also work well even though the GPU and CPU requirements for the mobile port are unknown at this point.

Thursday Mojang indicated that the Xperia PLAY version will follow the PC model of releasing early and updating frequently. So far the studio hasn't offered an estimated pricetag or explained how the game will be distributed. That said, the original PC version will retail for $28.95 when it "ships" this fall, but fans can purchase the game now for a cheaper $21.95.

The highly-coveted PC version is expected to drop its "beta" tag on November 11, 2011. The team is currently looking into hosting a Minecraft convention in Las Vegas on that date, but so far estimated ticket prices have slowed down those plans. It's believed that the iOS and Android versions – sporting controls more suited for touch screens – will arrive then.

More info will likely be provided at E3 2011 next month, as Sony Ericsson is throwing a special invite-only Minecraft-theme media event.