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.
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.