Minecraft Developer Mojang Bought By Microsoft For $2.5 Billion, Notch To Leave (Updated)

Rumours recently sparked up stating that Microsoft were looking to purchase Mojang, the studio behind the incredibly successful Minecraft. This afternoon that deal has been confirmed by both parties, with the final agreed figure being a huge $2.5 billion. The studio has also confirmed that founders of the company Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, Carl Manneh, and Jakob Porser will all be leaving, and will work on their own projects.

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You may be wondering what this means for the Minecraft versions that have released on PlayStation consoles, PC, Android, and iOS. Mojang has stated that it will continue to support all these copies of the game, saying there’s no reason to stop. This deal is heavily focused on Minecraft with Mojang’s other IP, Scrolls, barely getting a mention. The studio itself doesn’t know what will happen to that in the coming future.

One of the reasons that was given for selling was the huge amount of pressure on Notch as Mojang grew bigger. That stress has led to him to make the decision to sell so he can concentrate on other things instead. Microsoft was chosen as the seller due to the close ties the parties involved has built since 2012, and also because it is one of the few companies that really has the experience to handle the growth experienced by the studio.

Phil Spencer also commented on the deal saying:

“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.

We’re excited to welcome Mojang to the Microsoft family and we are thrilled to support the success and longevity of Minecraft for years to come.”

This deal is interesting in that we’re not sure where Microsoft will take Mojang. Since it now owns the studio it will pump money in, which in turn will be used to support non Microsoft versions of the game. Future IPs, possibly including Scrolls, will no doubt be restricted to Microsoft consoles and possibly PC. It’s also a huge investment to make in one studio, and a new IP from Mojang will really have to be as big, if not bigger, than Minecraft, to justify the cost to Microsoft’s shareholders.

Update: Notch has released a statement on the sale of Mojang, which you can read in full below.

I don’t see myself as a real game developer. I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.

A relatively long time ago, I decided to step down from Minecraft development. Jens was the perfect person to take over leading it, and I wanted to try to do new things. At first, I failed by trying to make something big again, but since I decided to just stick to small prototypes and interesting challenges, I’ve had so much fun with work. I wasn’t exactly sure how I fit into Mojang where people did actual work, but since people said I was important for the culture, I stayed.

I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.

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.

Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.

I’m aware this goes against a lot of what I’ve said in public. I have no good response to that. I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.

I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.

It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.

Source: Microsoft/Mojang/Notch

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26 Comments

  1. Wow, that’s a huge sum of money to invest in one developer. And with all the founders leaving it seems even more risky. I wonder if it will pay off.

    • Microsoft are sure to destroy Minecraft, like like everything else they touch right now turns to crap.

      Well done, you have only owned it for a few hours, and done more damage to their already in tatters reputation.

  2. Lot of money but happy to see Microsoft allowing the previous ports to keep receiving support.

  3. That settles the question of “should I buy Minecraft on the PS4” then. I guess there’s no point if it’s going to be abandoned now then, is there?

    And the official line from Mojang of “There’s no reason for the development, sales, and support of the PC/Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Vita, iOS, and Android versions of Minecraft to stop” isn’t reassuring. I can think of one big reason. Or possibly 2.5 billion small reasons.

    If Destiny cost $500m (which has to be wildly exaggerated), what could MS do with $2.5b instead of paying stupid amounts for something everyone’s bought already? How many new games could they launch that might get people interested in the failing XBone?

    Or is it just easier to say “Well, if you don’t want our console, we’ll take all your games away, because reasons”.

    • Time to get an xbox then. (just posting this for your reaction!)

    • Whilst we all bitch and moan about exclusivity deals, additional content, timed releases, etc. this point you raise, maybe tongue-in-cheek, about MS buying up all the game franchises may have a small ring of truth about it.

      • I’m not entirely sure how serious I was being about MS buying all the games.

        Exclusives are one thing. Every platform needs some interesting exclusives (something MS have always lacked, really). Timed deals aren’t too bad. It’s not as if there’s not plenty of other stuff to keep you occupied until the timed deals expire.

        But chucking ridiculous amounts of money at cross-platform games just to try and save the XBone isn’t good for anyone. We’ve had that Rise of the Tomb Raider deal (still no reason to believe it’ll ever come to PS4, other than desperate hoping) and now Minecraft with it’s “Yes, we’ll support it, honest. What’s that? You want updates? No, we’re not supporting it that much. We’re just not taking away the version you’ve got” thing. (Yes, that’s possibly being a bit too cynical, but maybe not much)

        I suspect Notch is regretting the whole thing by now. Minecraft is too much for him and he wants an easy life plus $2.5 billion? He probably wants to avoid the internet for the next 5 years, because it’s not going to be pleasant for him. He even mentions Phil Fish, so he must know what to expect from a bunch of internet idiots that decide to hate someone for no obvious reason other than being a bunch of tossers.

  4. I’ve worked for a couple of IT companies which have been taken over and it always strikes me that what the buying company are really buying is the staff. IT projects are so often transient products and unless there’s a very large continual contract that the target company has then the buyout always seems paper-thin, after all, the staff can leave the company whenever they wish. Whilst the purchase of Mojang obviously brings along the massive product that is Minecraft, the creative people behind the initial development and subsequent success are now leaving with well padded brown envelopes spilling out cash. MS need to make sure that they use the IPs that Mojang have and use them very well else it may quickly look like they’ve brought another transient product.

    • It’s about $62.5m per employee!

      • That’s classifying each single employee in the same bracket as Angel Di Maria, Falcao, 4 * Mario Ballotellis, or 30 West Brom first teams.

  5. Its a crazy sum of money but Minecraft must be raking it in with its consistent sales and ongoing dlc.

    I think future dlc will be split between generic packs on all platforms and xbox exclusive packs tied in with movies etc..

  6. My 9 year old son is off school today due to sickness. I just told him about the Notch leaving Mojang and he burst out crying… I sometimes wonder whether these big companies understand what their audiences really love? Still, if it doesn’t show up on a spreadsheet then it doesn’t matter, does it.

  7. Quite unbelievable. I highly doubt it’ll ever pay off, or ever could, given this unbelievable amount of money.
    But, I guess I could quite easily put up with several internets on several planets having strange ideas about me, if I got part of this money in return. ;o)

  8. I’m a little confused.. The guy in the video said they ‘bought Minecraft from Mojang” doesn’t he? So they haven’t bought the company, just the franchise?
    I feel that Minecraft peaked a while ago.. It’s everywhere now and it can’t get bigger, surely. It raked in millions but it’s not going to innovate any further.
    All I can see Microsoft doing this for is to control a massive game across platforms, to have a hand over the competitors pretty much. What they do with the game is open to debate but I sincerely hope they don’t fuck it up or screw over the millions of people that have already bought into the game.
    I’m a HUGE fan of the game, I’m playing it right now infact… building a 1:1 replica of the entire Shadow Moses complex from MGS1.

    Going forward I see an unnecessary sequel, subscriptions, law suits and bans on servers and unofficial services around the world, ridiculous DLC and Minecraft having to be integrated into Games for Windows or whatever it’s called. I paid for the game about 4 years ago and while I’ve bought pretty much every version out there for my relevant devices, I’ll be damned if I’m paying any more for the game on PC besides 3rd party server rental.

    As for Microsoft themselves, the buyout is a HUGE slap in the face for the thousands of people who were laid off earlier this year. As usual, they’ve shunned original content which they could have spent the money on in favour of having one up over the competition.

    Don’t mess this one up, Microsoft. You’re holding the biggest game in the world and a lot of people’s hopes and expectations along with that. Your actions could be hugely rewarding or massively devastating depending on how you decide to move forward.

    • Just watched the video and it’s interesting to see how it could progress. The one thing I’d like Microsoft to do is to tidy up the cluster-fuck of mods and incompatibilities (for said mods) that the PC version has. It is, without doubt, the biggest mess I’ve ever seen when it comes to a video game. Hell, I thought Oblivion mods were bad but, in light of Minecraft, I now realise they were fantastic in comparison.

      • Agreed. But then they could take it the other way and totally lock it down.

        The shitty thing with Minecraft is that when a decent mod comes along, they wind up implementing it in to the official releases, often extremely poorly. The other thing about the mod community is that for each of the games updates, the mods also need to be rereleased and updated. For a guy that doesn’t get paid for his work or relies on donations, that means a lot of time being put into something that won’t see many rewards.

  9. I guess it’s very unlikely that a Microsoft published game will ever appear on a Sony platform. I have to say though, as much as i enjoy Minecraft i see a few new ideas floating about the development community, owing their roots to Minecraft but with many enhancements above the Minecraft experience.
    Mind you, i guess Microsoft might push for a Minecraft 2.0 now that they have the reins, so it will be interesting to see how things develop.

    • Well, it would be a way to make money on someone else’s platform. Having a Microsoft game top the charts on Playstation is an interesting situation.

  10. Isn’t the game also used as a bit of an educational tool for kids?
    Maybe they’ll integrate the game into a new Windows or XP system or whatever it is PC’s run on nowadays then charge the American education system a ridiculous figure to let it be used in schools for IT project etc.

    • Funny you mention that. Just last night my son was having trouble with a math concept. I explained it to him in terms of building in Minecraft and I could see that he was starting to get it. Now he can go build it and master the concept.

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