Microsoft Buys ‘Minecraft’ Creator Mojang
Mojang is the ingenious company behind the hugely popular open-world video game Minecraft, and it has just been bought by tech giant Microsoft for a staggering $2.5 billion (£1.5 billion).
The game, described as virtual Lego with extras, allows players to build an entire world using retro Lego-like blocks, while also enabling them to battle other players and explore the huge map of this blocky world.
Minecraft was launched by founder Markus Persson – known by the handle “Notch” to the gaming community – in 2009, and he has watched it become ever more popular over the years. In fact, despite the five years since its release, a market research company, the NPD Group, found Minecraft to be the third most popular console game last month.
But Notch, the majority shareholder of Mojang with 71%, wasn’t in it for the fame and his celebrity was a reluctant one. “I have become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol,” he declared, “responsible for something huge that I don’t understand… I’m not an entrepreneur; I’m not a CEO. I am a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.”
Along with being bought out, Mojang also announced that Notch and his two co-founders, Carl Manneh and Jakob Porsér, will all be leaving the company. But Microsoft has said that the rest of the 40-strong team will be headed to the same game studio that is responsible for other such best-selling titles as Halo and Fable.
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox at Microsoft, explained that Minecraft is one of the most popular game franchises of all time. Both the game and the community behind it will be maintained in all the ways the fans love, he added, “with a commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future.”
As with any dramatic changes to something you love, some fans have reacted angrily to Mojang – and therefore Minecraft – being bought out by Microsoft, but Mojang has addressed its fans in a statement on its website.
“Change is scary and this is a big change for all of us,” wrote Mojang’s Chief Word Officer Owen Hill. “It’s going to be good though. Everything is going to be OK.”
He went on to explain that while the founders of Mojang are proud of the global sensation that Minecraft has become, Notch didn’t start out to create something quite so huge and that the founder felt the only option was to sell the company.
After working closely with Microsoft for the past two years and seeing its dedication to Minecraft and its development, the team had been very impressed and couldn’t think of anywhere better for their company to go.
“There are only a handful of potential buyers with the resources to grow Minecraft on a scale that it deserves,” he concluded. “We’re confident that Minecraft will continue to grow in an awesome way.”