Microsoft confirmed Monday that it is purchasing Minecraft and the studio behind it, Mojang, for a cool $2.5 billion. Rumors of the deal first began last week along with speculation of why Microsoft is interested in buying and Mojang is interested in selling.
Both Mojang and the game’s creator, Markus “Notch” Persson, posted the reasons behind the decision to sell, which continues to paint the picture of a guy who just wanted to make a fun game and found himself engulfed in one of the biggest video game sensations to hit the industry.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hailed the purchase by noting that gaming now spans PCs, consoles, and mobile devices. He said, “‘Minecraft’ is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft.”
Yes, Mojang is being bought by Microsoft. Here’s everything we can share right now: https://t.co/GUY1PDQsTd
— Owen Hill (@Bopogamel) September 15, 2014
The purchase of Mojang and Minecraft will result in a changing of the guard at Mojang, however. The studio confirmed that Notch and the other founders will leave to start their own small projects. Mojang’s Owen Hill also provides the first clue behind the decision to sell the game.
“‘Minecraft’ has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance. Though we’re massively proud of what ‘Minecraft’ has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big. As you might already know, Notch is the creator of ‘Minecraft’ and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning ‘Minecraft’ became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.
Notch himself chimed in with a lengthy post that brought down his personal blog with the amount of traffic it received. He reposted it on pastebin, where he admitted to being troubled by figuring out what to do with the massive success surrounding Minecraft. The notoriously private yet opinionated developer confirmed that the decision to sell the company has more to do with needing to step away for his sanity’s sake versus the money. The proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” in the cases was a blow-up in the Minecraft community over confusion regarding Mojang’s EULA for people running customer custom servers. Enforcement of the EULA by Mojang was loose for a long time, before Mojang decided to enforce and attempt to clarify what server owners could and could not do when it comes to accepting money and donations from players. This resulted in a backlash against both Mojang and Notch.
Here is Persson’s post in full to understand the context behind his reasons for selling and leaving Mojang.
“I’m leaving Mojang
“I don’t see myself as a real game developer. I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world. ‘Minecraft’ certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.
“A relatively long time ago, I decided to step down from ‘Minecraft’ development. Jens was the perfect person to take over leading it, and I wanted to try to do new things. At first, I failed by trying to make something big again, but since I decided to just stick to small prototypes and interesting challenges, I’ve had so much fun with work. I wasn’t exactly sure how I fit into Mojang where people did actual work, but since people said I was important for the culture, I stayed.
“I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.
“As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.
“Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.
“I’m aware this goes against a lot of what I’ve said in public. I have no good response to that. I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.
“I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning ‘Minecraft’ into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.
“It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”
What do you think about the decision to sell Minecraft to Microsoft? Did Notch and Mojang make the right decision? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Mojang]