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Is Microsoft Gearing Up To Acquire Minecraft Developer Mojang?

Microsoft may shell out upwards of $2 billion, and the deal could close by next week.

Is Microsoft Gearing Up To Acquire Minecraft Developer Mojang?
[Photo: Flickr user Tim Pierce]

Microsoft is in talks to buy Mojang AB, the Swedish company behind the wildly successful open-world game Minecraft, in which players use Lego-style building blocks to create whatever their hearts desire. According to the Wall Street Journal, Microsoft may shell out upwards of $2 billion, and the deal could close by next week.

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As the Journal points out, Mojang founder Markus Persson has been known to balk at big firm takeovers, going so far as to cancel a deal with Oculus Rift upon hearing of its acquisition by Facebook.

Persson railed on Facebook’s “history of caring about building user numbers” in a blog post, arguing that he “did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.” So why play nice with Microsoft?

According to Bloomberg, it was a “positive working relationship on Minecraft for Xbox” that led Persson to pursue the deal. But Persson doesn’t plan to stick around if the acquisition pans out, says the New York Times: “Mr. Persson is said to accept that he may not stay for more than six months if a deal is struck.”

The Times also reports that the deal has been in the works for some time:

“Microsoft first approached Mojang about three months ago, interested in pursuing a deal, one of the people briefed on the discussions said. By that point, the company — and Mr. Persson in particular — had considered a sale, having received takeover approaches worth about $1 billion in the last few years.”

On Microsoft’s end, the benefits are clear: As evidenced by its recent revamp of MSN, the company is looking to expand its products beyond the Windows platform. Re/code notes that the acquisition could help move this along, while providing Microsoft with a passionate fan base of gamers:

“It means Microsoft now makes games for not just its own devices, but also Sony’s, as well as iOS and Android machines. In Apple’s app Store, Minecraft is one of the few high-charting paid titles in a sea of free-to-play games.”

Minecraft may finally also make its way to Windows Phone, which Mojang has thus far considered too small to invest in as a company with just 40 employees. And its $291 million revenue last year? That doesn’t hurt either, we’re sure.

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About the author

Pavithra Mohan is an assistant editor for Fast Company Digital. Her writing has previously been featured in Gizmodo and Popular Science magazine.

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