Microsoft circling Mojang in $2bn buyout (Wired UK)


Minecraft
Minecraft

Is the
sun setting on Minecraft’s time as an indie darling?

©
Mojang


Enjoying playing Minecraft on your PS4? Relish the
experience while you can, since Microsoft is rumoured to be buying
Mojang, the developer of the cult sensation, for circa $2bn
(£1.24bn).

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the deal could see the Swedish
developer become exclusive to Microsoft’s family of Xbox consoles
and Windows-based PCs.

In many ways, the idea of Microsoft buying Mojang isn’t really
about buying Mojang at all — it’s about buying Minecraft. Chances
are the gaming honchos in Seattle don’t care much about the Swedish
developer’s upcoming titles such as Scrolls,
but rather on how they can capitalise on the massive success that
Minecraft has become — with over 100 million registered
users, it’s a true phenomenon.

Casting players into a randomly generated open world with
nothing but their bare hands to start with, the game allows users
to create almost anything they imagine with clever manipulation of
the block-based world. The freeform creation aspect is key to
Minecraft’s appeal, and even Lego has said it
wishes it invented the game
.

Microsoft’s eagerness to tie it down as an exclusive is easy to
understand. The Xbox 360 version sold more copies in its first 24 hours on Xbox Live than any other game on the
platform, was profitable
within an hour
, and it remains one of the most-played
multiplayer games. With the Xbox One struggling to repeat the
success of its predecessor, having one of the world’s top-selling
games only available on that platform would be quite a coup.

However, the very openness that fuels Minecraft’s
popularity may be anathema to exclusivity. The PlayStation 4 version has just launched, with a PS Vita release
to follow, and the game is structured to be infinitely replayable.
It’s not iterative in the way a Halo or Gears of
War
is, so players looking for some block-building gaming on
the current console generation won’t be incentivised to go over to
Xbox One for Minecraft as they will for Tomb Raider — at least not in this console
generation.

There’s also the matter of PR, and how the gaming community will
react. It’s worth remembering though that although Mojang founder
Markus “Notch” Persson vocally blasted Microsoft’s Windows 8, he also expressed delight
in working with them
, and it was apparently he who reached out to Microsoft to instigate this deal. If the
purchase goes ahead, Persson is also likely to step down from his
position at Mojang.

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10 September 2014 | 12:59 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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