Microsoft Buys Mojang for $2.5 Billion
The rumours are true. The biggest little indie studio in the world is being bought by the biggest evil empire in gaming (except for maybe EA… and Ubisoft). The earlier reports about Microsoft buying Minecraft developer Mojang was just a little off the mark. The US tech giant bought the Swedish indie studio for a whopping $2.5 billion.
With tens of millions of copies sold and a profit for Mojang of over $100 million last year, there can be little doubt why Microsoft was willing to make its biggest acquisition under new CEO Satya Nadella’s watch. Minecraft comes with what is probably the biggest user base in independent game. As such, Microsoft expects to break even on the investment by the end of the 2015 fiscal year.
In addition to profiting off the current suite of Minecraft ports to various platforms and the lucrative merchandising, Microsoft is expected to quickly get Minecraft onto Windows 8 PCs and Windows Phone mobile devices.
It’s worth mentioning that Microsoft does intend to continue making Minecraft available and supporting it on competitor platforms including PlayStation (PS3, PS4 and Vita), iOS and Android. Microsoft Studios developed games have typically been limited to the Xbox consoles and the PC space with no PlayStation, Nintendo or non-Windows mobile releases. It took a fair bit of time and money before the Microsoft Studios published Mass Effect came to PS3 and that was only in a Mass Effect Trilogy bundle. Most gamers are concerned, justifiably so, about the prospects of future Mojang developed games on non-Microsoft platforms.
As part of the deal, Mojang’s founding trio, Marcus “Notch” Persson, Carl Manneh, and Jakob Porser, are all leaving the company. None of them have confirmed any major future plans. On his website, Notch mentioned going back to “doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments” and saying “If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.”
The scariest part of this purchase for gamers may be the future of Minecraft under Microsoft’s watch. While I’m sure that the heart of Minecraft won’t change, Microsoft’s track record and the way big business approaches money in gaming tends not to be in the spirit of Minecraft as an inclusive, community-driven game. You probably hate when I say we need to wait and see how this plays out but the only way this deal is bad for gamers is when Microsoft starts micromanaging to make more money at the gamer’s expense. We all probably expect that to happen eventually but I can still pretend that I’m not so cynical as to entertain the notion that Minecraft won’t be mined for all its worth and quickly discarded.