JD.com’s cloud service JD Cloud has gained the exclusive rights to “Minecraft: Education Edition” in China, according to a joint announcement released Wednesday by JD.com and Microsoft. The move is part of JD Cloud’s foray into the education sector.
The game is the educational version of the popular sandbox game by the same name, with additional features to help teachers incorporate the software to their curriculum. The Chinese version of “Minecraft” was released in China in 2016 under a licensing agreement between China’s second-largest online games publisher NetEase and Swedish game developer Mojang. The educational version has been used by K-12 educators in over 100 countries and has a user base of over 90 million, including 35 million in the US.
JD Cloud plans to partner with companies in China and overseas and becomes a provider of educational services, content, software and hardware—essentially, a one-stop platform for educators and students. It also looks to leverage JD.com’s resources in cloud computing, big data, IoT, and internet.
The China-specific version of the educational game is still in the testing phase, according to Chinese media Yicai (in Chinese). Currently, the priority is developing content for the Chinese audience and finding curriculum partners, Deirdre Quarnstrom, general manager at Minecraft Education, told Yicai.
The company expects the game to help bring world-class interactive technology solutions to China, said Wu Yiheng, vice president of JD Group and head of markets for JD Cloud. JD Cloud and Microsoft will continue to work side-by-side to explore China’s smart education industry, he added.
JD.com established its education business unit in 2017, which covers areas including K-12, adult education, language training, and online education. The company claims that its education unit has more than 200 institutional users, and 36 million active student users. JD Cloud signed a strategic partnership with Foxconn’s classroom technology brand, SMART Technology, last year.
Still, JD Cloud is playing catch-up with peers who got a head start in edtech. US e-commerce giant Amazon’s cloud service AWS launched its education and research category in 2014, focusing on incorporating cloud technology for data management, analytics for educators, and developing programs for cloud technology learning. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s cloud computing arm has also launched education programs providing resources for developing technical skills.