Explore New Worlds and Solve Environmental Challenges With Gaming This Earth Day


  • Explore games that allow players to explore and engage with the natural world
  • Help Duriel sacrifice his horde as they donate buckets of maggots to Tiggywinkles animal rescue hospital
  • Learn about a new building at Rare, which has sustainability at its heart

At Microsoft we have made bold commitments to improve the impact of our business on the environment. Consequently, Xbox has made strategic, innovative and meaningful investments that scale up across the gaming industry:

  • Our Shutdown (Energy Saving) power mode, Active Hours and Carbon Aware console updates have made the use of our consoles more energy and emissions efficient. 
  • The Xbox Sustainability Toolkit has empowered game developers to optimize their game code for energy efficiency on Xbox consoles and beyond. 

In addition to these software innovations, we are making advancements in hardware and infrastructure spaces as well:

  • The Xbox Wireless Controller – Remix Special Edition was an exercise to explore ways to use less new plastic and reduce waste.
  • We are supporting impact reductions in-office, with Rare unveiling a new LEED Gold accredited building on its UK campus — Xbox’s first mass timber building in Europe for Xbox Game Studios.

As important as it is that we make these material changes, one of the great benefits gaming can have on environmental issues is often overlooked!  The medium of gaming can act as a tool which provides world exploration for those that may not easily access the natural environment. It also fosters outside of the box thinking, empathy, and team action – all necessary ingredients to solve environmental issues. Gaming can unlock the world, break the barriers of what is possible and inspire environmental action for generations to come.  

Read on to learn more about gaming as a medium for environmental change and how Xbox is celebrating Earth Day.   


Explore Sustainability with Minecraft

Bring climate and sustainability science to life with incredible animals. Minecraft Education Planet Earth III created in partnership with BBC Earth engages students with a free curriculum that includes lesson plans and discussion guides. Explore the way these animals’ lives are intertwined by playing as both predator and prey, parent and offspring, friend and ally, and discover the precarious balance of survival.

Research climate change while learning the principles of AI. With Minecraft Education AI for Earth students will learn principles of AI while taking their first steps into this exciting realm of computer science. Learners will use the power of AI in a range of exciting real-world scenarios, including preservation of wildlife and ecosystems, helping people in remote areas, and research on climate change.

Explore games with environmental themes on Game Pass

Simulation games provide a unique ability to explore and grow environments while also managing and regenerating natural resources. Check out these games that highlight these themes within their mechanics and stories:

  • Lightyear Frontier (Game Preview) (Available with Xbox Game Pass on Xbox Series X|S, PC, and Cloud) – Build a sustainable ecofarm and carefully manage your relationship with the ecosystem in this peaceful open-world farming adventure on a planet at the far edge of the galaxy. This game encourages sustainability efforts, including planting trees to replace those you harvest and cleaning up pollution. Invite up to three friends to create a flourishing homestead.
  • Coral Island (Available with Xbox Game Pass on Xbox Series X|S, PC, and Cloud) – Play a part in conserving native flora and fauna, dive into the seas to clean up the coral reef, and pick up trash all around the island in this family-friendly farming simulator inspired by Southeast Asia. The development team from Indonesia included themes of conservation in the way players must maintain the island’s ecosystem all while encouraging you to form a bond with nature.
  • Stardew Valley (Available with Xbox Game Pass on Console, PC, and Cloud) – You’ve inherited your grandfather’s overgrown farm plot and with a little dedication, you might be able to restore Stardew Valley to greatness! With an anti-consumerism plot against the JoJa Corporation and a whole lot of land to explore, Stardew Valley showcases love of nature and focuses on life’s simple pleasures.


The Seattle Aquarium uses Xbox Controllers to research the depths of local waterways

Xbox is excited to spotlight and support the incredible underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) research work of the Seattle Aquarium—a program designed to inform habitat restoration efforts throughout the region and reverse the decline of local kelp forests. The aquarium’s ROV Nereo, named after the scientific name for bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana), is a small, customizable, and easily maneuverable device that can dive up to 100 meters deep and transmit live video and data to the surface. Our favorite part? The researchers use Xbox controllers to pilot the ROV Nereo and navigate through the dense and dynamic kelp forests in Elliott Bay, the waterway surrounding the aquarium.

In addition to providing food and shelter for hundreds of marine animals, bull kelp also sequesters carbon from the water and locally mitigates the effects of ocean acidification. While some regions in the Salish Sea have thriving kelp forests, other regions are seeing up to a 95% decline, and researchers aren’t always sure why. The aquarium’s ROV work helps researchers survey declining kelp ecosystems and the factors that impact their health so the   broader Washington kelp conservation, restoration, and management community can work towards restoration.

To expand the scope and scale of this work, the aquarium is collaborating with the Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Shellfish Program to help them get their own ROV program up and running. The aquarium is also partnering with state agencies and Reef Check to compare ROV and scuba diving as methods for collecting data, and to evaluate the effectiveness of different environmental monitoring strategies. By using Xbox controllers to operate the ROV, the aquarium is not only making research more fun and accessible to future generations of marine conservationists, but also demonstrating the power of technology for environmental conservation and education. Through education and outreach events with a variety of local organizations, the aquarium hopes this program will inspire more people to appreciate and protect the kelp forests and the marine life they support.

To learn more about the Seattle Aquarium and the work they do visit seattleaquarium.org and watch our Xbox livestream at the Seattle Aquarium from Earth Day 2023.

Diablo IV: Duriel’s Offering to Tiggywinkles

Duriel the Maggot King has enlisted Diablo IV fans to help sacrifice his horde. For every 25 likes on the Earth Day post from Diablo’s X account, Blizzard will be donating a bucket of Maggots to Tiggywinkles, up to 666 buckets of maggots, to help feed their bird nursery. With each bucket containing roughly 45,000 maggots, you could help Blizzard fund Tiggywinkle’s bird rehabilitation program for more than two years by simply liking their post.

Tiggywinkles is a specialist animal rescue hospital in the UK. They are dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating all species of local wildlife. Every animal brought to the hospital is given a chance and treated with the best available care. Any animal or bird unable to be released back to the wild is maintained at the Hospital, in as natural conditions as possible. Head to the Diablo X account to help turn likes into buckets of maggots for the birds.


Barn X on the Rare Campus

Xbox has constructed its first mass timber building in Europe at Rare, the Xbox Game Studio and creator of Sea of Thieves. The new solar-powered studio is already inspiring game developers to create unique shared experiences for players.

Located in Twycross, Leicestershire, Rare’s new building – called ‘Barn X’ – was opened in early 2023 on the Rare campus, which is surrounded by nature in the heart of the English countryside.

Rare’s Studio Head, Craig Duncan, said: “Our new barn is a demonstration of leading-edge sustainability and environmental design, creating a model green workplace.  The opportunity to expand our campus by building a state-of-the-art environment for our teams while supporting Microsoft to achieve its sustainability goals has been genuinely rewarding. The new space design promotes collaboration, creativity and wellbeing, which are essential ingredients for a team to create fun experiences for players everywhere.”

Barn X has recently been certified LEED GOLD for its design and construction – a worldwide-recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. It is one example of how Microsoft is implementing sustainable solutions for the future as it pursues its goal to be carbon negative by 2030.

You can read more about the new building and how it is enabling creativity and enhancing wellbeing here.

Playing for the Planet Annual Impact Report

As a founding member of the Playing 4 The Planet Alliance, we are excited to share the 2023 Annual Impact Report. The report includes:

  • A measure of progress towards Playing 4 the Planet’s strategic goals.
  • Updates on focus areas, such as decarbonization, The Green Game Jam, and more.
  • A review of members’ commitments towards sustainability.

Xbox won the Green Studio of the Year award at Gamescom Opening Night Live 2023. We thank the industry for recognizing our green gaming efforts, but we can achieve more when we work with others.  That’s why we’re excited to welcome Activision Blizzard, one of America’s Greenest Companies 2024, to Team Xbox. We look forward to collaborating with our new teammates from Activision Blizzard and King, who are already improving the impact of gaming.

And even more from Team Microsoft: Visit Microsoft Unlocked to explore innovations across  Microsoft products, partners and customers that are helping to achieve our carbon goals!