Microsoft Trying to Buy Minecraft Dev Mojang
The biggest little indie studio in gaming might soon become part of the current evil empire of gaming. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is strongly pursuing Minecraft developer Mojang and has a deal worth more than $2 billion on the table for the company.
News of a potential purchase of Mojang by a big company comes as a massive surprise to people who follow the industry. Mojang bosses Markus Persson and Carl Manneh have both said in the past that they aren’t particularly interested in outside investment into the company. This would be an about-face on that stance but they probably weren’t staring $2 billion in the face when they said that.
While the Xbox division isn’t a “core’ component of Microsoft, the WSJ speculates that getting Mojang and its rather large fan base in the Microsoft family will benefit more than the Xbox division. While it means that new Mojang games would certainly end up on the Xbox One (and maybe even the 360), that was likely to happen anyway. The coup might be getting Mojang products onto Windows Phone. Microsoft’s fledgling mobile OS has many things that it could probably improve (like all sorts of integration to make it take to Windows PCs, Surface tablets and Xboxes) but adding Minecraft to Windows Phones can’t hurt the brand.
There are two reasons for gamers to be a little concerned about the purchase of Mojang by Microsoft. First, Microsoft Studios fleet of developers are in the habit of not releasing games on Sony or Nintendo systems. PC gamers (and maybe even mobile gamers) aren’t likely to be affected by the possibility of Mojang being brought under the Microsoft umbrella. There might be an exclusivity window on Xbox but not solely platform exclusivity to Xbox.
The other problem is your typical more money, more problems. Microsoft is planning to spend $2 billion on Mojang so it’s going to want to make its money back. However, Minecraft has been out for so long, how much more money can that pull in for them? Mojang has two games in the works (Cobalt which they’re publishing and Scrolls which is a card game) but whether they’re going to give Microsoft a sufficient return on investment might rely on how much goodwill from Minecraft is worth when selling those games (or possibly microtransactions in Scrolls).
An insufficient ROI is when trouble starts because intra-Microsoft intervention would likely mean massive upheaval at Mojang. The old saying is dance with the one who brought you but businessmen seldom stay the course in the pursuit of more money. Sometimes a change is needed but a panicked changed seldom works out well. That panicked change to improve ROI on Mojang is what we should all fear the most.
This has been a big year for big money deals in gaming. We’ve already seen Oculus sell out to Facebook for $2 billion and Twitch bought now by Amazon for $1 billion. What’s $2 billion between frenemies for Mojang?
Source: Wall Street Journal