Microsoft to Acquire ‘Minecraft’ Maker for $2.5 Billion, Founders to Exit

Three founders of Swedish videogame developer Mojang will with Microsoft's purchase


Microsoft said it reached an agreement to acquire Mojang AB, the Swedish game developer behind the blockbuster “Minecraft” franchise, in a deal worth $2.5 billion.

With the Microsoft acquisition, Mojang founders Markus Persson (a.k.a. “Notch”), CEO Carl Manneh, and Jakob Porser — who launched the game in 2009 — are leaving the company.

Microsoft said its investments in cloud and mobile technologies will let “Minecraft” players benefit from “richer and faster worlds,” as well as more powerful development tools. The tech giant said it plans to continue to make “Minecraft” available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Microsoft Xbox and Sony PlayStation.

Word of Microsoft’s deal for Mojang surfaced last week, with initial reports pegging the deal at around $2 billion.

“‘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,” Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella said in a statement.

The Mojang team, which numbers about 40 employees, will join Microsoft Studios, which includes the studios behind such franchises as “Halo,” “Forza” and “Fable.” While the founders of “Minecraft” are departing to embark on new ventures, “we believe the high level of creativity from the community will continue the game’s success far into the future,” Manneh said in a statement. “The acquisition by Microsoft brings a new chapter to the incredible story of ‘Minecraft.'”

In a blog post, Mojang said that “we don’t know specific plans for ‘Minecraft”s future yet, but we do know that everyone involved wants the community to grow and become even more amazing than it’s ever been. Stopping players making cool stuff is not in anyone’s interests.”

According to Mojang, “Though we’re massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never (Persson’s) intention for it to get this big. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance.”

“Minecraft,” one of the most popular videogames in history, has been downloaded more than 100 million times for PCs alone to date. In addition, “Minecraft” is the most popular online game on Xbox — with more than 2 billion hours played on Xbox 360 in the past two years — according to Microsoft. It also frequently has been the top paid app for iOS and Android in the U.S. Over the last 12 months, nearly 90% of paying “Minecraft” PC customers have signed in to play the game.

Microsoft said it expects the acquisition to be break-even in fiscal 2015. Pending usual closing conditions and any regulatory review, deal is expected to close in late 2014.