After much rumour and speculation Mojang has officially confirmed that software giant Microsoft has purchased the Minecraft creators for a sum of $2.5 billion.
Although the price tag does appear high, Microsoft is optimistic that it will recoup the sale amount in as little as 12 months (by the end of the financial year in July 2015 to be exact). With sales of the game to be estimated already at over 54 million copies (!), a growing merchandise scene and a successful relationship with the company already since 2012 (when the game was launched on Xbox 360), the company knows it’s a pixelated cash cow with this acquisition.
Fears from fans were quickly voiced. Many asked if the behemoth corporation would continue the support, or even sever ties with, other platforms that the game features on, such as iOS, Android or its long standing rival Sony. Minds were soon put to rest when the Xbox boss Phil Spencer addressed the frenzied zombie bashers in a video published also today:
In other news of the purchase, and as also sadly rumoured, we had the news that creator and founder Marcus “Notch” Person will be departing the company. In a Q&A on the official statement from Mojang and a statement from the man himself it was advised that Notch “didn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance“, and just wished to work on smaller projects as he found the pressure of owning Minecraft “too much to handle“. Markus leaves as soon as the deal is finalised and clarified for him it wasn’t about the money, but rather for his “own sanity“.
We can only speculate on what will happen to many folks’ favourite voxel sand-box game. Although both Mojang and Microsoft insist they are keen to highlight that business will continue as normal for all versions the game, many are still left wondering what will occur down the line. MS clearly has plans for the brand, but how that vision of ‘evolution and innovation’ will pan out is not clear. Will the purchase of the company ultimately change the nature of the game? Like an Enderman stealing our house bricks at night, can we expect bank account stealing paid content, features or updates? The console versions of the game have already added paid character DLC packs which have always been free to enjoy in PC. I don’t think they will. Not for a long while at least. Maybe in Minecraft 2 though?
Undoubtedly Microsoft will start slow at first. They’ll look at the IP’s marketing tenaciously and I feel we’ll see them create new merchandise lines as these have proven exceptionally popular since being introduced. Later I envisage the pushing of Minecraft via alternative purchase points – such as directly via the Windows Operating System marketplace, or even get the game advertised as being ‘optimised” for the new Windows Phone (which is due to be re-branded and re-launched soon). Windows 9 is even around the corner! Maybe we can expect a copy to be bundled free of charge with every purchase with exclusive features?
Microsoft mad men have some work cut out indeed on how to expand the game to new customers, but hopefully and more importantly not alienate the already loyal 54 million plus fan base.
Time will tell, but everyone does however agree that Minecraft is going nowhere.