Microsoft and Mojang, the studio that makes Minecraft, have been in talks about an acquisition deal for a while. And now Microsoft is officially shelling out for the game maker to the tune of $2.5 billion. That’s a lot of blocks.
Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, said in a statement, “ ‘Minecraft’ is one of the most popular franchises of all time. We are going to maintain ‘Minecraft’ and its community in all the ways people love today, with a commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future.”
Mojang also released a statement, which attempts to reassure Minecraft users that Microsoft isn’t going to immediately ruin everything about the game they love. But the wording of the statement, including phrases like, “everything is going to be OK,” makes it seem like the decision was difficult, and that the “Mojangstas” may be uncertain about the decision internally.
Clearly no one is more conflicted than Minecraft inventor Markus Persson, aka Notch. Mojang’s statement explains:
As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.
On his personal website Notch explains in detail how the success of Minecraft has been difficult for him on a personal level. He writes that it’s been “interesting” to gain fame and recognition for something he created, but that it has also created pressure and responsibility in his life that he doesn't want. He writes,
Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. ... 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.
It's sort of reminiscent of Dong Nguyen buckling under the pressure of Flappy Bird’s fame, though Notch says in his post that he has wanted to and planned to leave Mojang for a long time. Luckily Minecraft is much bigger than Notch at this point. Hopefully that also means that Microsoft won’t be able to demolish it.