After being leaked to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal a couple of days ago, Microsoft has now confirmed that they will indeed buy Mojang – the Swedish developers behind the popular video game Minecraft – for US$2.5 billion.
“At Microsoft, we believe in the power of content to unite people. Minecraft adds diversity to our game portfolio and helps us reach new gamers across multiple platforms. Gaming is the top activity across devices and we see great potential to continue to grow the Minecraft community and nurture the franchise,” Xbox chief Phil Spencer said in a blog post announcing the acquisition.
“The Minecraft community is passionate and diverse, ranging across all ages and demographics. We respect the brand and independent spirit that has made Minecraft great, and we’ll carry on the tradition of innovation to move the franchise forward.”
Spencer also confirmed that Minecraft will continue to exist on a variety of platforms – including on Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, and Sony’s PlayStation devices and consoles. However, one platform that Minecraft does not exist on is Windows Phone. That is likely to be rectified in the coming months, I suspect.
Mojang’s creator Markus Persson – or, Notch – will leave the company as part of the acquisition. Mojang says that Persson wanted to sell in order to work on other projects, instead of spending time managing the franchise.
“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,” the company said in a blog post.
“He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.”
Persson notes that he came to the conclusion to sell after being bombarded with tweets about a change in the EULA – something that he did not have any involvement in – and watching a video of Phil Fish on YouTube.
“[I] 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,” Persson said in a separate post.
“I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.”
“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,” Persson added.
“It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”
The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.