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What Microsoft Purchasing Mojang Might Mean For Minecraft Fans


Microsoft has just purchased Mojang, creator of a little known game called Minecraft, for a cool $2.5 billion, and already the internet is freaking out. When dealing with a fanbase as loyal as Minecraft’s, it’s certainly difficult to come in and make new changes without upsetting people. The game which was developed to please Markus “Notch” Persson more than anyone else, has proven not to be the flash in the pan people originally thought it could be, and with its worldwide popularity and appeal, there are a lot of fans out there to disappoint if things don’t go well.

However, with the deal only a day old people are still speculating on what could be, instead of evaluating what has already gone on, and of course with good reason. When Microsoft bought Rare back in 2002, they changed the titles exclusivity to Xbox only, scraping any Gamecube titles they had in the pipeline. And while things went smoothly for a while, in 2010 while reviews were still solid, sales were a bit lack lustre, and the company changed everything, firing plenty of key employees and leading to plenty more quitting.

Rare completely changed focus from fan favourites StarFox, Diddy Kong and Banjo Kazooie titles and plummeted into the world of Kinect. This improved sales for a while, but has proven not to have the intended staying power, and so Rare is now working on its next move since scrapping Kinect.

Microsoft is still in charge of the talent and experience of Mojang’s 40 remaining employees, and so perhaps new developments and game ideas are in the pipeline.

While this all sounds very ominous for Minecraft players, I think there are a few things that have to be considered. Running around screaming that Microsoft will ruin Minecraft before they’ve even had a chance to do so, I believe is a little premature. After all, when Disney bought LucasFilm the internet again was thrown into a rage, and while we haven’t seen episode 7 just yet, with the original cast involved and George Lucas far far away, there is no way it can be worse than the devastating prequels.

Let’s consider the facts for a moment. Notch approached Microsoft and not the other way around. The fact of the matter is, that Notch wanted out of the game developing industry, and while Microsoft happened to be the lucky bidder, Notch would have sold and left Mojang whoever made the purchase.  While Notch obviously received plenty of lovely comments in his years with Mojang, there was also a lot of negativity facing him. In his leaving statement he claimed

"I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter. 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."

His final statement, “This is not about the money. It’s about my sanity, is particularly telling about what the popularity of Minecraft has done to this developing genius. Minecraft was developed because Notch wanted to have fun developing it, he wanted to make people happy, just perhaps not as many people as what transpired. Microsoft buying Majong did not make Notch leave. Notch left because it was his time. Personally, I wish him and his $1.8 billion all the best.

Notch approached Microsoft, because he wanted a company with the power and the money to make something amazing to take over Mojang. To us $2.5 billion may seem like an incomprehensible amount of money, but to Microsoft it’s just a month’s profit. If we are to believe him, Notch claims that he wants the best for Mojang, Minecraft and his fans, and he thinks that Microsoft has the tools to deliver.

So what could Microsoft do with its new acquisition? Well there are a few obvious answers. As with Rare, it is likely to make all new Mojang games Xbox exclusives. Here in Japan, the popularity of the Xbox One was demonstrated clearly on opening night. Coupled with Minecraft’s solid popularity over here, Microsoft could be looking into growing into a huge gaming market, they have been yet to conquer.

Another obvious answer is Microsoft’s flailing smartphone business. After buying Nokia last year, Microsoft has been working hard to develop its smartphone enterprises, but their flashy OS and amazing camera technology has done little to create waves as they still only represent 3 out of every 100 smartphones sold. Minecraft which has so far done well on both Android and iOS was not being developed for Windows phones. Notch had previously claimed this exercise would be pointless for Mojang as Microsoft held such a small portion of the market. But, updated Minecraft with extra bonuses for Windows Phone users could help promote sales.

Despite all this speculation, the leaving founders have claimed that Microsoft have non-Minecraft related plans for the company, and that we are expected to hear good things soon.  Microsoft is still in charge of the talent and experience of Mojang’s 40 remaining employees, and so perhaps new developments and game ideas are in the pipeline.

Many things are still uncertain. No-one is quite sure what will happen to Alpha players free lifetime upgrades, or whether Microsoft will meddle with the existing Minecraft platform. Many Twitter users have expressed their concerns quoting previous Microsoft exploits which have included frustratingly challenging interfaces, and begging Microsoft to leave Minecraft as easy to use as it currently stands. Others have worried for the jobs of Minecraft’s many YouTubers and Let’s Players.

The truth is that one day in, there is very little we know about the Microsoft take over, and so far, it is all speculation. We know that Microsoft has let us down in the past, but we also know that Notch had simply had enough, and believes that he is putting Mojang and Minecraft in the best hands possible.

What do you think about Microsoft’s acquisition of Mojang? Do you think Notch was right to leave it in their hands? What do you think Microsoft will do with the company? We’re interested in hearing your comments below. 

The views expressed in this article explicitly belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, nor should be attributed to, GameSided as an organization.