Microsoft pulled off a surprise that would equal the hype generated for the iPhone 6 launch, as the software company announced its acquisition of the hit videogame Minecraft for $2.5 billion. However, the founders and top executives of the Swedish indie game developer will not be joining the tech giant.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal would give Microsoft “an asset with a loyal and largely young following.” The move comes at the heels of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s statement that the company needs to focus on what it does best–selling software to companies.
The deal is also a huge jackpot for Markus Persson, the 35-year-old creator of Minecraft who has become a hero of sorts in the independent game community partly for his boldness to bash big companies, including Microsoft.
Before the acquisition, Mojang has earned over $100 million in profit from selling Minecraft and related merchandise. It only has 40 employees, with Persson and two other executives–CEO Carl Manneh and co-founder Jakob Porser–being the only shareholders and board members.
While the Mojang team will become part of Microsoft Studios, the company’s co-founders are leaving to pursue new projects.
Persson’s rationale for selling Mojang could be partly traced in his recent online postings on Twitter and Reddit, saying he has become tired of answering to Minecraft fans and that managing a very popular game has become difficult for his small-scale game studio.
“It’s not about the money,” Persson posted Monday in his personal website. “It’s about my sanity.”
Since its introduction in 2009, Minecraft has sold over 50 million copies for PCs, mobile devices, and video game consoles like Xbox. The game, wherein players create worlds from digital blocks, has drawn in children and veteran video game fans alike. It also has licensing deals for handbooks, toys, and an upcoming feature film.
Source: Wall Street Journal