The Wall Street Journal is reporting this evening that a deal may be announced this week for Microsoft to buy Minecraft developer Mojang for an amount over $2 billion dollars. The WSJ is citing an anonymous source who is knowledgeable of the deal.
Microsoft PR and Mojang’s CEO Carl Manneh both declined to comment on the reported deal to buy the successful developer. The move would certainly be another puzzling direction for the developer as the public persona of the studio has become decidedly more corporate minded in the past few months. The developer Mojang is best known of its immensely popular block building, open world title Minecraft which debuted on PC in 2011 officially and the following year on consoles beginning with the Xbox 360 where it quickly outsold the PC version. The game is currently available on nearly every console and mobile device with a version for the PlayStation Vita due out in the next few months. Mojang still has 2 games in developmentt: Cobalt and Scrolls.
The deal for Microsoft to purchase Mojang is out of character for the developer whose founder, Markus “Notch” Persson, has been vocal against large corporate investments. When Facebook announced it was purchasing VR developer Oculus Rift for $1 billion, Persson released a tweet shunning the planned deal to port Minecraft to the Oculus.
We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.
— Markus Persson (@notch) March 25, 2014
While Persson eventually warmed to the idea, he has still be an advocate for independent development for video game developers. However, in the last few weeks Mojang has been enforcing its EULA for the PC version of Minecraft, giving the studio a more corporate public persona which has left some gamers saddened. GamePolitics also has been atop the latest issue with Minecraft servers involving the legal issues surrounding server modding utility Bukkit. The combination of events have given Mojang and Persson a decidedly corporate public face. A deal from Microsoft would take the the hardening image and likely encase it in concrete and prove that Markus Persson does indeed have a selling price.
The acquisition of Mojang by Microsoft makes sense for the Xbox platform which is still trailing behind Sony’s resurgent PlayStation 4. Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox division at Microsoft inherited a gaming platform that had shed most of its internal development studios leaving a decided lack of games for the new console compared to the competition. As part of his public quest to turn the Xbox One into a gaming central device, the brand has been forced to dig into its deep pockets to either acquire studios or secure deals for timed exclusives such as Rise of the Tomb Raider as we have reported on previousl.
The game’s premise is an open world where players are presented with a set of tools where they are only limited by their imaginations on what they can build using the materials such as wood, gravel, stone, sand, diamond, etc. The materials are used to build the basic tools which can then harvest more exotic materials leading to an ever deepening level of complexity. One project worthy of mention from Wired was designed on the PC version in which the player created a working hard drive in game that can actually store 1kb of data. The lure of the game has led to 50 million copies of Minecraft being sold since its initial release and $100 million in profits from merchandise.
Image Source | Mojang