In a deal that was first reported last week, software giant Microsoft has officially acquired the independent developer Mojang, creators of the game Minecraft. Both companies confirmed the merger was in place and that the deal was basically done, giving the largest software company in the world, rights to a title that has sold over 50 million copies on their home consoles alone. The fear of the gaming community is that this deal would take the beloved Minecraft from other systems and make it an Xbox exclusive title, eliminating a large chunk of the install base along the way.
The deal itself is said to be worth $2.5 billion to Mojang, which Microsoft was willing to pay to acquire them, and especially Minecraft. Phil Spencer, who serves as the boss of Xbox, said that this deal really began to materialize, for them, when the game first became available on Xbox consoles. He notes that Minecraft jumped to the top of the digital sales list on Xbox Live with about two-hundred billion hours being logged by Xbox 360 users since release. “The Minecraft community is passionate and diverse,” Spencer said, “ranging across all ages and demographics.” This interconnectivity is the cited reason that some of Mojang’s activities, such as the yearly Minecon, will continue.
Minecraft will also continue to exist and receive updates on consoles that are not owned by Microsoft. Spencer stated that the company “believes in the power of content to unite people,” and stated outright that the title would still be available on every platform in which it currently exists. That includes the company’s competition in the phone market, iOS and Android, and the home console market, Sony. No future plans, such as further ports of the game or projects, were announced with the acquisition statement.
The Minecraft developers were not silent on the deal today either. In fact, a lot of their talk was aimed at what could be considered damage control with their fan base, many of whom were shocked by this move. Owen Hill served as the official Mojang spokesperson on the Minecraft official site, saying that despite how “scary” a change this big seemed, “everything is going to be OK.” He reassured the fans that the future is fueled by them and that their continued support is all that really matters to either company. He pointed out the clandestine nature of “Mega-deals,” and wanted honesty to come through as much as possible during this transition.
Not everyone at Mojang will be making the metaphorical journey with the company to Microsoft. All three co-founders—Markus “Notch” Persson, Jakob and Carl—all will be gone from the company by their own decision, Notch being the majority stockholder in Mojang currently. Hill’s statements shed some light on what may have brought about this deal in the first place: “Minecraft became too much for him [Notch] to handle.” Notch had, according to Hill, never intended for his game or company to get this big, and the pressure of running that size of commitment was enough to force him out and possibly encourage the sale to Microsoft. Hill tells fans of Notch that he and the other two co-founders will still probably do something “cool” down the line.
By Myles Gann