The rumors were true. Microsoft is set to take over Swedish Minecraft-maker Mojang for the incredible price of 2.5 billion dollars.
The rumors had been running since last week, where Wall Street Journal were the first to report that there might be talks between Sweden’s Mojang, the company behind worldwide digital block sensation Minecraft, and Seattles’ software giant, Microsoft. As the weekend approached, the rumors intensified, and Monday afternoon, the news broke. First on Mojang’s own site, then on the dedicated Xbox-site (including a perfectly timed video still-frame of Xbox boss Phil Spencer) and finally with a fully fledged old school press release from Microsoft.
In short, the details of the deal are that Microsoft will seize control of Mojang at the end of the year. At the same time, the three original founders will leave the company. And with them, the founders will each take their share of the selling price – an amount that Mojang describes in their blog post as a “smooth 2.5 BILLION dollars.”
Despite the takeover, Mojang makes a tentative promise that they will keep supporting the existing versions of Minecraft found on competing platforms such as Sony’s PS4 and Apples iOS. At the same time, however, Majong makes it clear that it is ultimately up to the partners of those versions to decide if they want to keep hosting a Microsoft-owned game on their platform.
There’s no reason for the development, sales, and support of the PC/Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Vita, iOS, and Android versions of Minecraft to stop. Of course, Microsoft can’t make decisions for other companies or predict the choices that they might make in the future.!
Mojang also states that except from the founders, they expect most employees to retain their positions “for the time being.” However, the future for other non-Minecraft projects seems more uncertain. In relation to the status of such projects, Mojang says that “We don’t know yet. We’ll share any news as soon as we do.”
The sale also confirms the suspicion that had been lurking for some time, that the inventor of Minecraft and primary owner of Mojang, Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, had grown weary of his own creation, wanting go back to projects on a much smaller scale. Something he confirmed later during the day in a very personal account of his thoughts leading up to the decision to sell.
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.
In addition, Markus Persson states in his personal account that he plans to go back to making prototypes and small games for Ludum Dare again. And before ending off with ensuring that “It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”, he also sheds a little light on just how alien the role as CEO and leading figure for a worldwide sensation have felt to him, as he writes that “If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately,”.
Read more about: Ludum Dare #30 taking over the Nordic
The price of 2.5 billion dollars seems high when compared to the Minecraft IP’s ability to generate approximately $250 million in 2013, and with the market for sales of further copies of the game being fairly saturated. But analysts point to several areas where the purchase makes sense for Microsoft, despite the steep price. First and foremost, Minecraft could act as a booster for Microsoft’s smartphone and tablet platforms. Both of which are struggling at the moment.
Furthermore, Minecraft could function as a gateway for Microsoft to get onto other platforms. As we enter a future where services are as important as software, Microsoft are showing signs of becoming increasingly platform agnostic. The purchase of Minecraft could be a step in this process. A thought that seems to be supported in the official press release from Microsoft.
Microsoft plans to continue to make “Minecraft” available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.
In addition, Microsoft also had a lot of surplus funds located outside of the US, which could only be brought back to the company with a sizeable tax fee. By spending these funds on purchasing Mojang instead, they avoid this.
What are your thoughts on the sale of Mojang, and what do you think the future will bring for Minecraft now that it is in the hands of Microsoft?