Minecraft is, without a doubt, the most popular game in the world. Here are just a the stats:
- The third highest selling video game title of all time with 54 million copies sold as of June 2014.
- The #1 Top Paid App on both iOS and Android in the US
- One of the most downloaded PC games in history with more than 100 million downloads since 2009
- The best-selling online game of all time on Xbox Live Arcade becoming profitable within 1 hour of its release
It is painstakingly obvious that Minecraft has been a successful venture for Mojang Studios. Originally created by Sweedish independent developer Markus “Notch” Persson, Minecraft has blown up from a cult hit to world-wide phenomenon. It was only a matter of time before companies came knocking at Mojang’s door, looking for a price tag that would allow them to acquire the world’s most popular game. And with today’s announcement, Microsoft has been deemed to be that perfect suitor.
There are three main players in Microsoft’s acquisition: Microsoft, Mojang, and you. While Microsoft and Mojang get to haggle numbers and speak the corporate discourse, the impact of this deal falls equally on the players. So what does each party gain in the deal? What does Microsoft gain? Money. Lots of it.
Microsoft’s acquisition is basically a no-brainer. Any major company would love the chance to own what is currently the world’s best-selling game property, and Microsoft got it at a steal. Minecraft is the third highest selling video game of all time with nearly 54 million copies sold world-wide, which means Microsoft doesn’t have to do much to make their money back. Projections actually indicate that Microsoft will “break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis.” That’s less than a year to make more money than most of us will ever see in a lifetime. And after that year’s break-even point, Microsoft has the world’s biggest game to make them money for the rest of time.
A question many people have is why Microsoft acquired the entire Mojang studio instead of just the Minecraft IP. While it may have been just a bit cheaper to buy the IP outright, Microsoft’s purchase of the studio is basically a bundle package. Now that Mojang is under Microsoft’s umbrella, numerous opportunities for the future present themselves. Microsoft now employs the development team and the people who know Minecraft best. The developers at Mojang can continue to work on title updates and new in-game content for the game uninterrupted. If Microsoft so deems it (which they undoubtedly will), the studio can grow in size to have two in-house teams. One continuing work on supporting Minecraft and the other team braintstorming new ideas that they may have not been able to work on before. And as an extra bonus, the hard-working people at Mojang are not suddenly out of a job, they can continue working on what could very well be something that can financially support them for the rest of their careers.
Besides money, Microsoft and Xbox gain a popular title to add to their gaming library. In the same way that Sony used the power of marketing to convince gamers that Destiny was practically a PlayStation exclusive, Microsoft can do the same for Minecraft. They can tout creepers and Endermen galore at their press conferences and in promotional marketing, showing how the best Minecraft experience is only available on Xbox and Windows platforms. But would they actually make Minecraft, or even Minecraft 2, exclusive to their devices? Microsoft has made too many smart moves to do something so dumb.