At this point, there's no denying that Minecraft is one of most successful indie games ever. The open-world sandbox adventure game recently celebrated its fifth birthday and made its leap to current-gen consoles. The game continues to sell like crazy and it's hard to go out in public without seeing at least a few kids wearing Creeper t-shirts or toting around pick-axe back packs. All of that merchandise revenue is about to have a new home, now that Mojang has officially been sold to Microsoft.
Rumors that Microsoft had been in negotiation to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang began to surface last week. Estimates of the negotiation had the sale coming in somewhere around an impressive $2 billion dollars and it seems those numbers were fairly accurate. Today, both Mojang and Microsoft have confirmed that the sale is official and the final number was $2.5 billion dollars.
Here's what the official Mojang statement had to say about the motivations behind the major change...
"Minecraft has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance. Though we’re massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big.
As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. 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. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that."
For gamers who have been with Minecraft since the PC alpha and beta testing, it may seem hard to imagine the game existing without the presence of Notch. The co-founder of Mojang has been a vocal voice in the video game community and was incredibly open with his fans throughout the game's popular development period. Notch, along with the other two key players at Mojang, will all be walking away from the studio to pursue other projects.
"Though it’s too early to confirm which of us will continue working on Minecraft or other projects, we predict that the vast majority (if not all) Mojangstas will continue to work at Mojang for the time being.
The founders: 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."
To the majority of the world, $2.5 billion dollars likely seems like an enormous amount of money even without any context, but let's take a closer look at that number. For comparison's sake, you might remember a few short years ago when Disney acquired all properties from Lucasfilm and took the helm of the Star Wars universe (films, video games, comics, television shows, and merchandise). That deal, for arguably one of the most popular intellectual properties in history, had a $4 billion price tag. Selling Minecraft, a five-year-old indie game, for more than half of the value of the Star Wars franchise takes the financial success of the building-blocks game to a whole new level.
Obviously, we expect to see Microsoft profit on the IP in every medium possible. Expansion packs, a sequel, t-shirts, and a movie are likely all in the cards for the franchise. Although Microsoft has commented on the sale, it hasn't outlined its specific plans for Minecraft just yet. One detail the Microsoft team did offer, was that we can plan to continue playing Minecraft on multiple platforms...
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. That is why we plan to continue to make Minecraft available across platforms – including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC.
Seeing that the game has only just recently made its launch of PS4, it is good to see that Microsoft intends to continue developing content for the non-Xbox and PC platforms.
Do you think thatMinecraft is actually worth $2.5 billion or did Microsoft overpay? Do you think the magic of the game will live on without the original creator onboard? Let us know in the comments.
Follow Denny on Twitter @The_DFC for more news on Minecraft and gaming.