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Microsoft acquires Minecraft

Developer Mojang bought for $2.5 billion as Notch and other co-founders depart studio

Microsoft today announced the acquisition of Mojang, including the studio's blockbuster Minecraft franchise, in a deal worth $2.5 billion.

Mojang's Owen Hill confirmed the news in a posting on the company's website, explaining why Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson consented to the sale.

"He's decided that he doesn't want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance," Hill said. "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."

Additionally, Hill said that Notch, along with Mojang co-founders Carl Manneh and Jakob PorsÚr, would be leaving the company, with no indication on what any of them would be doing next, suffice to say that it wouldn't be Minecraft-related. Beyond that, the "vast majority" of Mojang employees are expected to remain with the company.

Microsoft also announced the news with a statement from Xbox head Phil Spencer explaining the company's motivation and reassuring fans it doesn't plan to change course too much.

"Minecraft adds diversity to our game portfolio and helps us reach new gamers across multiple platforms," Spencer said. "Gaming is the top activity across devices and we see great potential to continue to grow the Minecraft community and nurture the franchise. That is why we plan to continue to make Minecraft available across platforms - including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC."

Spencer also said Microsoft would be bringing back the Minecon convention next year, and will work on additional ways to foster community among Minecraft fans.

"We're excited to welcome Mojang to the Microsoft family and we are thrilled to support the success and longevity of Minecraft for years to come," Spencer said.

Notch used to his personal blog to shed light on his decision, saying he recently reassessed the connection he had with Minecraft fans. He had become a symbol to them, he said, and that's a role he had no interest in fulfilling.

"As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments," Notch said. "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."

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Latest comments (26)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
Microsoft Boardroom Options Menu:
(1) Buy one game for $2.500.000.000
(2) Give away eight million Xbox One consoles for free
(x) Press to not die
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So, Minecraft purchase price is about 1/3 of Nokia phones Microsoft bought last year. Only time will tell which one is a better deal.
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Lewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts3 years ago
Still amazed this happened based on Notch's apparent apathy towards Microsoft and, still business is business and he may well feel he's not the indie developer anymore? Only he knows I guess. If Microsoft do this right it really could be a good move for them, if they go down the corporate route with the game the community rage will be epic.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lewis Brown on 15th September 2014 3:01pm

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Show all comments (26)
Craig Burkey Software Engineer 3 years ago
I'm struggling to see how it is worth $2.5Billion, yeah Minecraft is a big game but EA were trying to buy Take Two who have a huge portfolio of hits for a similar price, Mojang have one hit.
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Rolf Klischewski Founder & CEO, gameslocalization.com3 years ago
I think it's safe to assume that Notch was looking for a way out anyway, much like the Flappy Bird guy, the difference being the considerably bigger plug Notch had to pull.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.3 years ago
Mojang had $120 million in profit last fiscal year. Even if they doubled that profit, it would need 10 years to make back the investment. I don't see Minecraft making $240 million in profit per year for the next 10 years.

Revenue itself is $300 million. And MS claims to break even by fiscal year 2015?

How is that even possible?
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Is there anyone out there who does NOT believe Minecraft is going exclusive? MS ain't exactly fantastic at guessing PR blowback and 30m+ kids who aren't on MS platform can give off a lot of rage. Interesting times!
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Andreia Quinta Photographer, Studio52 London3 years ago
"If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I'll probably abandon it immediately."
Aww that's cute. You just say that because you don't need the money.
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Yeah, he doesn't need the money nor the fame. Lucky guy!
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Mark Hardisty CEO & Founder, No Yetis Allowed3 years ago
I just bought another copy of Minecraft for my Xbox360 this weekend (after already purchasing 3 other versions on different platforms), due to having a 5 year old who is TOTALLY obsessed with Minecraft. I think this is a smart move by MS. Come Minecraft2, there's going to be a deluge of sales coming their way. It's such a strong brand that captures a very young audience. Seeing kids playing it, it is more than just a game. Fingers crossed (for the sake of my 5 year old) that MS do well with this.

But I agree with you Barry, I would hate to see this restricted to MS platforms only.
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Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert3 years ago
Well at least it shouldn't be bad for the devs of mojang. Even if the creators have left the building, there is still a lot of staff that is now "owned" by Microsoft. Is it that bad? Having a quite rich employer with steady payment and a good share of work? I don't think so. And a lot of Indy devs would be pleased to be picked up by Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo. And yes- even if the current state of Mojang was good enought with sales and everything - now they are in the Position of a "big Studio".
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Rafa Ferrer Localisation Manager, Red Comet Media3 years ago
Like someone said in the previous article about the rumor, it's not Minecraft the Game they're buying, but Minecraft the IP. This summer we've translated 2 Minecraft books here, one playing guide in the form of a kids-oriented novel and a more traditional book of hints. Like Lucas, MS knows how to detect that the [merchandising] Force is strong with this one.
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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games3 years ago
Exactly Rafa. It never stops surprising me over the years how consistently many professionals understand so little about IP value and potential. Microsoft would be stupid to make this exclusive. They wouldn't. It is a company that makes money, and they already publish on so many platforms. Movies, games, clothes, animation, books, toys... the list is endless.
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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada3 years ago
They aren't purchasing based on current Minecraft financials, they're purchasing the incredible impact this will let them have long-term with the gamers of the future, and all the accouterments that MS can provide the series (think merchandising). I think this is a shrewd move, and really excited to see where it goes from here.
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Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance3 years ago
Given Notch's previous attitude toward Microsoft, it's hard not to believe he is trolling them with this sale.

1) Wring all the money you can out of Minecraft.
2) Sell to Microsoft for $2.5 bil.
3) Usually here is where it says Profit, but the text size does not go high enough to do it justice.
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Pete Thompson Editor 3 years ago
The article neglected to mention that as reported Microsoft expects this acquisition to break even by the end of the 2015 fiscal year.
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Anthony Gowland Consulting F2P Game Designer, Ant Workshop3 years ago
I think I'd be worried if I worked for one of the non-Mojang studios they outsource development of other versions to.
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Nick Parker Consultant 3 years ago
Would Microsoft dare make Minecraft a 1st party exclusive on all Microsoft devices to drive hardware?
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Shehzaan Abdulla Translator/QA 3 years ago
This strikes me as similar to the way MS snapped up Rare, an investment that practically paid for itself...

Mojang only have one notable property and that's Minecraft - a game that will continue to be on other platforms. So where is MS to go from here?

Minecraft doesn't have any of the hooks necessary to build a sequel on: No narrative to expand, no set-piece spectacle to top. And on top of that Minecraft is highly modularly expandable which makes a sequel a tough propositon overl simply expanding the current game with DLC.

Given the general apathy of its target audience towards the PS4/X1 upgrade programme I'm inclined to think the all important 8-15 age demographic isn't that bothered (this is anecdotal though) about continuing their Minecrafting into the new generation.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Shehzaan Abdulla on 15th September 2014 10:37pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 3 years ago
As someone mentioned where I brought up the merchandising IP factor last time

I also have noticed in the last week that Project Spark has gone to a 12/31 release date. Might they be thing to rejigger it as "Minecraft Worlds" or something like that? It's a great kit, shame it gets so little press
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Shane Sweeney Academic 3 years ago
Not as much game related but Microsoft has been acquiring studios non stop this whole year; Parature, Osterhout Design Group, Green Button, Capptain, Syntax Tree, InMage along with buying the rights of Gears of War from Epic.

I wonder if Satya Nadella is more acquisition friendly then Ballmer was? I wonder if Satya even has anything to do with the the Games Division with his heavy cloud tech background? I guess with the recent announcement of browser based streaming games via the Azure cloud I imagine he is intimately involved.

Could the Mojang acquisition really be as simple as Nadella really liking the idea of Minecrarft servers running on Azure?

Edited 7 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 16th September 2014 2:20am

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Carl Hudson Studying Computer Science, University of Adelaide3 years ago
*cough* timed *cough* exclusive
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
I remember watching my ex-girlfriend play Minecraft two years ago, running along cutting/chopping shrubs or something that was green and blocky. I kept thinking "how in the world is this fun?" But it appears I'm in the minority because this game has become quite big. Speaking of big...
That is why we plan to continue to make Minecraft available across platforms - including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC."
Thats a pretty big bombshell itself. Not so much the last two platforms but keeping the other three signals that Microsoft really intends on making a return on their investment as soon as possible. And as already mentioned, they will also make a whole lot of money on merchandising. As for making the franchise exclusive, I see only one realistic scenario. Microsoft will keep Minecraft multiplatform because every sale is more money in their pocket. This has to be most gratifying for them with the Playstation sales.

However, as soon as they are ready to make Minecraft 2(it's inevitable) the franchise will return to being console exclusive to the Xbox brand with a PC version tagging along for the ride. After all, Minecraft 2 would most likely be a pretty big system seller based on the brand alone. And for that reason they should probably hold off on the PC version for atleast a year after the Xbox One version drops. Or atleast thats what I would do.

.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game3 years ago
With my son's age group (he's 9) Minecraft isn't going anywhere. Not only do they play it more then any other game, the biggest stars to them are Stampy Longnose, Diamond Minecart, I R Cwupcakes and YouTubers that mainly deal in Minecraft videos.

If Microsoft want to make a sequel, the thing they really should look at adding is a way to mod on Microsoft consoles (maybe in a Little Big Planet way).

Most of his friends play more on the Xbox, and but spend hours watching videos on PC mods. If there was a way of making and sharing these on console the would go crazy. If there was an option to give mods free or charge with the creator and MS splitting the cut, it would be a massive revenue opportunity. This could be functionality they omitted on everything other than 360, X1 and PC (missing it on 360 would be a mistake).

Allowing persistant servers on X1 would also be a big draw.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Goodchild on 16th September 2014 8:15am

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Neil Young Programmer, Rebellion Developments3 years ago
Rob Fahey has put some thoughts up here : http://www.gamesbrief.com/2014/09/why-microsoft-bought-minecraft/

in short: probably more about azure than xbox, hence promise of cross platform.
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Keldon Alleyne Developer, leader, writer, Avasopht Ltd3 years ago
Well done notch on becoming a billionaire!
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