[/img]Microsoft is in talks to acquire Minecraft studio Mojang AB for $2 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. The latter claims that the buy-out was initiated by Markus “Notch” Persson, who will leave the company once the deal is completed - possibly as early as this week.
It’s a bit of a shocker, needless to say. Notch has been critical of Microsoft in the past, but has apparently warmed to the company after collaborating to release Minecraft on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. He allegedly reached out to Microsoft “a few months ago”, and enjoys a “close relationship” with head of Xbox Phil Spencer. According to one Bloomberg source, Notch will stay on to supervise the transfer of ownership but is “unlikely” to have any involvement beyond that.
Minecraft is now available on PlayStation consoles too, of course. One possible outcome of the acquisition is that Minecraft development will only continue on Xbox platforms and PC, though this would presumably contravene Mojang’s agreements with Sony as regards on-going support.
Microsoft may not want to make the game an exclusive, either. Another of Bloomberg’s contacts “with knowledge of Microsoft’s thinking” suggests that “the company thinks that this kind of product, like its Office productivity software, has to be available with high-quality versions for multiple platforms, including those of its rivals”.
Neither Mojang nor Microsoft is available for comment at the time of writing. I’ll let you know when I hear more.