Microsoft confirmed this morning that it's buying massively popular game Minecraft and the studio behind it, Mojang. The purchase amount is $2.5 billion. Don't panic: Microsoft says it "plans to continue to make Minecraft available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation." Though Microsoft is purchasing the Minecraft intellectual property -- game, licensing, and any other rights involved -- it isn't getting the game's creator, Markus "Notch" Persson. A note from the Mojang team says, "Notch, Carl, and Jakob are leaving. We don't know what they're planning. It won't be Minecraft-related but it will probably be cool" (Carl Manneh is Mojang's CEO and Jakob Porser is a co-founder).
Haven't heard of Minecraft? Frankly, we're impressed. The game's rise from indie darling developed by a single man -- "Notch" -- to multi-billion dollar powerhouse has been meteoric, and highly publicized. Not only did it pioneer a movement in the game industry toward releasing early, unfinished games, but Minecraft became a massive mainstream hit. The game's iconic "Creeper" character is a staple among both gaming's hardcore and casual mobile gamers.
Rumors of an acquisition by Microsoft began last week, with a rumored purchase price of $2 billion. According to those reports, Notch approached Microsoft about a buyout. Mojang's statements today seem to confirm that report. "He's decided that he doesn't want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance," says Mojang's statement on the news. "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."
Notch's own statements are far more serious. "I don't see myself as a real game developer," his statement leads with. He says that Minecraft became far larger than he ever expected, and that massive entity has become overwhelming for him to deal with. Moreover, he's done with "big" games forever. "As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I'll probably abandon it immediately," he writes. Addressing the subject of the buyout's price, Notch says, "It's not about the money. It's about my sanity."
As for Microsoft, Xbox lead Phil Spencer is very excited about the deal. "Minecraft inspires millions to create together, connects people across the globe, and is a community that is among the most active and passionate in the world," he said. And for the investors in the crowd, apparently Microsoft isn't too worried about shelling out all that cash. "Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis," the release reads. That's to say Microsoft expects to make back the $2.5 billion it's spending on Minecraft by July 2015. No joke!
The deal isn't finalized just yet, as it has to go through regulatory approval and such. Microsoft's expecting that to happen in "late 2014." The announcement video is below:
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