In a move to bolster its gaming and mobile businesses, Microsoft is buying Mojang, maker of the popular ?Minecraft? video game, for $2.5 billion.
The Mojang team will join Microsoft Studios, maker of the ?Halo? and ?Forza? franchises, Microsoft said Monday.
The wildly successful ?Minecraft,? the company said, has had more than 100 million downloads on PCs since its launch in 2009. It?s the most popular online game on Xbox, and the top paid app on the iOS and Android platforms in the U.S.
Microsoft said the acquisition, expected to close in 2014, should break even in fiscal year 2015. It is using overseas cash for the purchase.
Microsoft is counting on the game?s existing popularity, deep engagement by players, the ability for people to build onto that world, its appeal to younger people, and opportunities for its use in classrooms to expand the game?s audience and garner more revenue.
?The ?Minecraft? community is among the most active and passionate in the industry, with more than 2 billion hours played on Xbox 360 alone in the past two years,? Microsoft said in a news release.
It also touted the appeal of ?Minecraft? as a platform ? players can build modifications to the game ? rather than just a stand-alone game such as ?Angry Birds.?
??Minecraft? is more than a great game franchise ? it is an open-world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft,? CEO Satya Nadella said in the release.
Microsoft and Mojang executives hastened to try to reassure ?Minecraft? fans, some of whom were leery of what the software giant would do to their game.
?We respect the brand and independent spirit that has made ?Minecraft? great, and we?ll carry on the tradition of innovation to move the franchise forward,? Phil Spencer, head of Xbox and Microsoft Studios, said in a blog post Monday morning:
He said Microsoft will continue to make ?Minecraft? available across platforms, including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC.?
Microsoft said its cloud and mobile technologies will enable ?Minecraft? players to ?benefit from richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect across the ?Minecraft? community.?
Microsoft is also interested in seeing if ?Minecraft? can reach new audiences in schools, according to someone with knowledge of the matter. There are already modifications in use in classrooms at MinecraftEdu.
Nadella spoke of ?Minecraft? perhaps being used to turn kids on to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects during an appearance Monday at the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce annual meeting.
?It?s the one game parents want their kids to play,? he said.
Source: MCT Information Services