After the rumors first leaked out last week, pen has been put to paper, and Microsoft is in the process of buying Minecraft creator Mojang for $2.5 billion. This makes Mojang’s founder and primary shareholder Markus “Notch” Persson a billionaire, as he reportedly owns 71% of the company. But Notch claims on his blog that he wasn’t in it for the money. He wants to avoid being an icon and go back to doing small projects.
It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.
He might be making out like a bandit, but happiness is something that can’t be bought. It appears that Notch has grown uneasy with his stature as it grew alongside Minecraft’s success. So best of luck to Notch – hopefully you find peace and happiness in your life and whatever you do next.
So what does this all mean for Minecraft, particularly the versions that exist on many non-Microsoft platforms, including iOS and Android? Microsoft is claiming that they will continue to make it on the myriad platforms that the game is on, and Mojang’s Owen Hill essentially says the same.
And with Jens Bergensten, lead designer and developer on Minecraft since late 2011, remaining with the company, you’ve got to think this means the boat won’t rock too much.
This is not inconsistent with what Microsoft has done lately: they’ve released games like Ms. Splosion Man and Kinectimals on iOS, not to mention Microsoft Office making the jump to iOS as well. Plus, the iOS and Android versions print money: Minecraft Pocket Edition has consistently been in the top paid charts and even high up in the grossing charts for months if not years now. There’s literally no reason to pull them now.
Minecraft Pocket Edition for Windows Phone, and possibly even for Windows 8 tablets, feels like an inevitability at this point.
The bigger question lies with Scrolls, Mojang’s card battle game. It’s preparing to come out of beta on desktops, and versions for iPad and Android tablets have recently been confirmed as arriving this fall. With the acquisition being final, will Scrolls for mobile still arrive on non-Microsoft platforms? Or will they perhaps wind up delayed, making an appearance on Surface and other Windows tablets first? Will the game continue in any form at all, or did Microsoft just want Minecraft?
The answers here are a lot murkier. Hill addressed this in Mojang’s acquisition announcement this morning, saying “we don’t know” what’s happening with Scrolls, and “we’ll share any news as soon as we do.”
Mojang will remain a separate operation from Microsoft Studios, much like 343 Industries and Lionhead are, but only time will tell just what Microsoft does with Mojang and Minecraft. Certainly, they could leave them be, just extending their reach on Microsoft platforms and doing so before others, but any kind of acquisition like this takes time to figure out the effect of.
But for now, while Minecraft Pocket Edition seems safe, just what Mojang’s future on mobile will be is a very open question.