Is no independent PC gaming phenomenon safe from the enticing billions of massive technology conglomerates? Oculus sold to Facebook, Amazon bought Twitch, and a new report in the Wall Street Journal claims that Microsoft is in the final stages of a deal to purchase Minecraft developer Mojang for a cool $2 billion or more. (Bloomberg corroborated the claim.) Signatures could fly as early as this very week, according to the WSJ.
Microsoft declined to comment and Mojang couldn't immediately be reached for comment, but the deal makes an odd sort of sense from Microsoft's perspective. In his scant few months at the helm, newly crowned CEO Satya Nadella has rebuffed calls to kill off the Xbox brand, going so far as to say that "the single biggest digital life category, measured in both time and money spent, in a mobile-first world is gaming."
And few games are as astronomically successful as Minecraft. Mojang's baby has sold more than 54 million copies across PC, console, and mobile devices alike, starred in an untold number of YouTube Lets Play videos created by devoted fans of all ages, and has leveraged those wins into various toy, clothing, and other accessory lines. It's almost like a new-age Lego for the digital era. Heck, Minecraft's digital block-building has been commemorated in a real-life Lego set.
But on the flip side, Mojang founder Markus "Notch" Persson has been vocal on Twitter about his desire for the company to stay independent. Two billion dollars sure is a lot of dollars though. Then yet again, the WSJ reports Mojang made more than $100 million in pure profit last year alone... and there was that time Persson told Microsoft to "stop trying to ruin the PC as an open platform."
Got an email from microsoft, wanting to help "certify" minecraft for win 8. I told them to stop trying to ruin the pc as an open platform.— Markus Persson (@notch) September 27, 2012
Nevertheless, Bloomberg reports that Persson and Microsoft are on very good terms after the success of Minecraft's Xbox port, and claims Persson was actually the one to initiate the deal. The publication reports that the Mojang founder would likely move on from the company after a post-acquisition transition period, however.
We'll have to see how this particular rumor shakes out. How would you feel about Microsoft buying Mojang and Minecraft? Cautiously happy, as was the general reaction after Amazon bought Twitch, or more deeply betrayed, as many gamers felt when Oculus sold to Facebook? Sound off in the comments.
Updated 10:30 PM E.T with details from the Bloomberg report.