The "serious discussion" rumors that Microsoft would be buying Mojang are apparently true. Microsoft will be planning to announce on Monday that it has acquired the gaming studio behind the insanely popular game, Minecraft, for $2.5 billion.
The acquisition, which will be huge for Microsoft's gaming properties, looks to bring more attention to Microsoft's mobile operating system, Windows Phone. The Xbox and PC brands are already locked-in with a huge core following and have supported Mojang, the makers of the PC version, 4J Studios, the devs behind the console edition and Notch, the founder of Minecraft.
Speaking of Notch, having Mojang picked up by Microsoft definitely wasn't something on anyone's radar due to Notch's blunt disdain for Microsoft technology. He has gone on record saying that he wouldn't even consider building a version of Minecraft for the Windows Phone, and that he isn't fond of Microsoft's platform. In late September of 2012, he went on Twitter to say,
Got an email from microsoft, wanting to help "certify" minecraft for win 8. I told them to stop trying to ruin the pc as an open platform.
I guess $2.5 billion would change that tune in two years. At any rate, a lot of people are enraged, mostly PC gamers interestingly enough, about the potential of Microsoft buying up their coveted game and dev studio.
To me, the move makes perfect sense on the business level. Sure, the game is already crazy popular on the PC and the Xbox 360, PS3 and Xbox One versions are doing incredibly well, with the 360 iteration breaking day-one sales records for non-disc games and moving over 8 million units since launch. To compare, Minecraft for the PC has just eclipsed 14 million and the game has been around three years longer.
But it goes beyond the game itself, and I'm a firm believer in Microsoft's proven track record that the company looks at the bigger picture. What gamers fail to see is that Minecraft is a brand, not just a game. Not only do you have a truly talented group of developers inside of Mojang that actually care about putting out a solid product, but they all seem to share the big-picture mentality that the executives do. Minecraft has licensing deals that can almost put Disney to shame. Plush toys, mini-games, clothing, cereal, computer mice, backpacks, LEGOs, and that's just the consumer-facing side of it. Mojang also uses Minecraft for a humanitarian purpose, with the game helping the United Nations with a project called Block by Block, which helps countries with urban development planning. Considering that Microsoft is involved both in helping others through its services and raking in money on licensing fees and patents, I can't see a better home for Mojang than with the Redmond-based tech giant. Plus, Windows Phone sales might skyrocket if a pocket version of Minecraft was made available for the platform.
No word yet on details like if the studio will move and who might be terminated, as Microsoft doesn't comment on things until they are official. We should have that information tomorrow, but what do you think of all this as it stands? Are you happy with the decision? Why or why not? Let it fly in the comments below.