The game industry received a shock Tuesday following reports that Microsoft is on the verge of buying Mojang, the studio behind Minecraft, for a cool $2 billion. New reports emerged this morning concerning how the proposed deal was struck and revealed that the man behind it all, Markus “Notch” Persson may not be around after the deal closes.
According to a Bloomberg report, the current deal was initiated a few months ago when Persson reached out to Microsoft. Minecraft has been a huge hit on the Xbox 360 and is approaching 15 million units sold. Understandably, Xbox head Phil Spencer is said to have a good relationship with Persson, which spurred the deal.
The deal to purchase Mojang will reportedly wrap up by the end of this week or the next. The framework and the price are already set, but the details are being finalized. However, Bloomberg’s sources state that Persson, the man who created Minecraft and Mojang’s majority shareholder, will only be gone around long enough to help with the transition and then he is gone.
Anyway, my price is two billion dollars. Give me two billion dollars, and I’ll endorse your crap.
— Markus Persson (@notch) December 18, 2012
How will that affect the development of Minecraft? Honestly, probably not much. Persson is undoubtedly a major influence on the culture of Mojang and his personal stamp is all over the game. However, he turned over creative control to lead programmer Jens “Jeb” Bergensten at the end of 2011. Bergensten has been greatly assisted by other Mojang developers like Nathan “Dinnerbone” Adams. Meanwhile, other Mojangers like Daniel “Kappische” Kaplan handle the business side of things.
Microsoft is clearly interested in purchasing Mojang solely because of the Minecraft brand. The only other game in development at Mojang is Scrolls. The competitive collectible-card title game is still in development, but it’s clear that Blizzard’s Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft and Magic: The Gathering from Wizards of the Coast are sucking in all the attention right now.
After Persson stopped active development on Minecraft, he turned his attention to the oddly named sandbox science fiction game, 0x10c. The game was eventually cancelled in August 2013 after Persson hit a creative road block. Since then, he’s been involved as a personality and face of Mojang, but there’s been no indication of him actively developing a game.
Those that have read books like Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus “Notch” Persson and the Game that Changed Everything or A Year With Minecraft: Behind the Scenes at Mojang, will know that success came quickly to Persson, but that does not mean it’s been easy. Both books paint a complicated, private, and introverted person who doesn’t provide much insight into himself outside a close knit group of friends at Mojang.
Minecraft will continue without Notch, but the question is in what form if it ends up under the ownership of Microsoft. Clearly, the company has bigger marketing plans in store for a game that has sold more than 54 million copies worldwide.
Will Microsoft attempt a sequel? The game does not need one as it already offers a platform that is continually being improved. For example, the Minecraft 1.8 update for the PC was recently released that made huge improvements to the underlying code, plus added plenty of new content. The larger question revolves around what happens with Minecraft for the three PlayStation platforms if the game ends up owned by Microsoft.
[Images via Nicholas Storbjork, Mojang]