Microsoft is aiming to acquire Mojang AB, the company behind the successful Minecraft videogame, for more than $2 billion. The deal could be done as early as this week, according to someone familiar with the matter.
Carl Manneh, Mojang’s Chief Executive, and a spokesman from Microsoft had both declined to make a statement regarding the issue.
This move is a surprise, especially for Mojang, since it was not unknown to many that the company has avoided third-party investments and had been openly rallying against huge firms like Microsoft, much to the admiration of the whole videogame community.
Minecraft copies have more than 50 million of sales since its first launch in 2009 and Mojang has already reached the $100 million mark profit as of last year. Minecraft can be played on Sony’s PlayStation, computers, smartphones, and Microsoft’s own Xbox. The popular game can boost Microsoft’s videogame business and give it a following of young fans.
Despite the availability of more polished games like Microsoft’s ‘Halo’ franchise, Minecraft still managed to catch on with children and even adult gamers. Minecraft does not have the best graphics available to videogames but its popularity with players is due to its unlimited possibilities, allowing the players to build anything they want in a world of blocks that’s crammed with different dangers such as giant spiders and zombies.
The acquisition of Mojang would mark a lot of firsts and signify a couple of things. If the deal is to push through, it would be Microsoft’s first multibillion-dollar purchase under its new chief executive, Satya Nadella, who was appointed the job in February. The acquisition can also mean that Nadella has acknowledged that Xbox is not a core business for the company.
Nadella, however, said that the company sees videogames as a solution to enhance its foundation in both PCs and mobile phones. According to a letter to employees from Nadella, he stated that gaming is the largest digital life category in a mobile world.
This message has countered critics’ claims that videogames are a costly diversion for Microsoft, which gets about two-thirds of its profit by offering software to corporate technology departments. Meanwhile, the business that comprises Xbox consoles makes about $6.7 billion or roughly 8% of the company’s total revenue.
Minecraft can also help Microsoft reach out to a new legion of consumers, especially on smartphones. According to Annie, an app that tracks mobile apps, only Skype, Microsoft’s video-calling service, has been consistent in the top 50 paid or free apps for iPhone and Android smartphones in the United States. Microsoft has been struggling with its apps and its Windows Phone devices to other leading phone operating systems.
In contrast, Minecraft ranks among the top five paid apps in the U.S. in both Google app store and Apple store. The game is also an essential part of a rising trend to watch different play games on video sites like YouTube and Twitch. Some Minecraft players who post videos on YouTube have garnered more than a billion views.