In the largest acquisition yet of CEO Satya Nadella’s tenure, Microsoft has ponied up a whopping $2.5 Billion for Mojang, the developer and publisher of the ubiquitous and phenomenally popular Minecraft computer and video game franchise. The acquisition should be good news for Windows Phone users.
The acquisition is also one of the largest software-related transactions by Microsoft in recent memory and adds yet another company with Scandinavian roots to the Microsoft stable, a purchase that was preceded by the $7.2 billion deal for Finland-based Nokia in 2013/early 2014, and the $8.5 billion offering for Skype in 2012, which began life as a small development firm by a Dane and a Swede in 2003.
Will Microsoft’s acquisition of Mojang and the Minecraft franchise mean that Windows Phone users will finally get their own version of Minecraft?
According to a Microsoft news release, Mojang will be rolled into Microsoft’s internal game development group (Microsoft Studios), which also includes 343 Industries (caretaker of the Halo franchise after Bungie bolted Microsoft), Turn 10 Studios (Forza), and Lionhead Studios (Fable).
One potential concern for the vibrant and opinionated Minecraft community is the departure of Minecraft lead developer and founder Markus “Notch” Persson (@notch), who announced in a post on his personal blog that he was leaving Microsoft and Mojang after the deal was finalized. “As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments,” Persson writes. “If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.”
In a statement announcing the deal, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stressed the importance of the Minecraft community. “Minecraft is more than a great game franchise,” Nadella said. “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.”
Microsoft Xbox head Phil Spencer wrote and spoke about the acquisition via a blog post and video clip on the Xbox website and also stressed the importance of the Minecraft community. Likely addressing fears that Minecraft might be made exclusive to Microsoft platforms, Spencer stated that Microsoft would continue the platform-agnostic, multi-platform approach that Mojang has followed with success in the past. “That is why we plan to continue to make Minecraft available across platforms,” Spencer said. “Including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC.” I’ve embedded the aforementioned Spencer video below.
Minecraft is undoubtedly one of the most popular video game franchises in history, with Microsoft pointing out that the PC version had been downloaded more than 100 million times since it was released in 2009. It’s also available on just about every gaming platform there is, including the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Apple iOS, Google Android, and the Sony PS Vita.
Microsoft also pointed out that the Xbox 360 was especially popular, stating that “…more than 2 billion hours played on Xbox 360 alone in the past two years. Minecraft fans are loyal, with nearly 90 percent of paid customers on the PC having signed in within the past 12 months.”
So are you — or someone in your family — an avid Minecraft player? So what do you think of Microsoft buying Mojang and the Minecraft franchise? I’d love to hear what you think, so please drop me an email with your thoughts, add a comment to this blog post, or contact me on Twitter or Google+. You can also catch up on my posts in the Petri IT Knowledgebase forums.