Microsoft buys Minecraft maker Mojang for $2.5 billion
The rumors were true. Microsoft has acquired Mojang, the company behind the wildly popular game Minecraft, for a cool $2.5 billion dollars. The deal spells the end of independence for one of the most popular indie titles ever as Mojang joins Xbox Studios.
But this is far from the end of Minecraft. With a voracious fan base and 100 million downloads on PCs alone, Minecraft is one of the most successful independent games of all time. Microsoft is so certain of its success that the company expects the Mojang investment to break even during its 2015 financial year on a GAAP basis.
For Minecraft fans, this is a scary time as such a beloved game transferrs hands to a massive company like Microsoft. But Mojang's new owner is counting on Minecraft to remain a big draw, and that can only really happen if the game remains as widely available as it is now.
Microsoft says it will continue to "make Minecraft available" across all the platforms it is on today, including Android, iOS, PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
Hopefully, "make Minecraft available" means Microsoft plans on active development of the game for competing platforms like PlayStation.
And there's good reason to believe this is the case. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's focus for the company is on cross-platform services, and you can't get much more cross-platform than a widely available game like Minecraft.
In fact, the only place Minecraft is lacking in its cross-platform credentials is the new Microsoft universe, specifically Windows Phone and the Windows 8.1 modern UI. It's a safe bet we'll see versions of Minecraft for both Microsoft platforms in short order.
Speaking of Windows 8, this appears to be a major turnaround for Markus "Notch" Persson, the creator of Minecraft and Mojang co-founder.
It's hard to forget Persson's dig at Microsoft almost two years ago when he told Microsoft to "stop trying to ruin the PC as an open platform." But Persson's criticisms of Microsoft didn't stop him from working with the Xbox team to bring Minecraft to the Xbox One earlier in September.
In a blog post on his personal site Persson said he gave up active Minecraft development some time ago. But as the creator of such a popular game, he is still tied publicly to the game's development. Persson said his notoriety had turned him into a symbol for Minecraft when all he wants to be is a "nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter."
Further reading: Here's Markus 'Notch' Persson's farewell letter to Minecraft fans
"As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments," Persson said. "If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately."
As for Minecraft and any changes Microsoft may have planned for the game, Microsoft says that thanks to its cloud expertise we can expect "richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect across the Minecraft community."
Microsoft expects the Mojang acquisition to receive regulatory approval before the end of 2014.