Proving recent reports true, Microsoft announced today that it is acquiring Mojang, maker of Minecraft, for $2.5 billion. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant expects the deal to close this year and for its investment to break even during its current 2015 fiscal year. (Microsoft's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.)
Comments made by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella indicate that the company plans to be a continued presence in the video games market, despite rumblings that it may spin off its Xbox gaming unit as it pursues an enterprise-friendly "mobile-first, cloud-first" product strategy. Video games, as it turns out, is a big money-maker.
"Gaming is a top activity spanning devices, from PCs and consoles to tablets and mobile, with billions of hours spent each year," said Nadella in a statement. "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."
Minecraft takes place in a blocky, Lego-like universe that allows users to reshape the virtual world around them. Since its launch, the game and its unconventional style have attracted millions of players across several device platforms.
According to company estimates, Minecraft has been downloaded more than 100 million times on the PC. Its mobile editions have earned the top spot in the paid app rankings for iOS and Android.
Minecraft has enjoyed particular success on Microsoft's own video game platform. In the past two years, Xbox 360 users have racked up more than 2 billion hours playing the game. It is the most popular online game for the Xbox, claimed Microsoft.
The Minecraft community is not only engaged, it's loyal, asserts Microsoft. Mojang's data reveals that "nearly 90 percent of paid customers on the PC having signed in within the past 12 months."
Microsoft pledges to be a good steward of the property, according Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. He assured that his company is "going to maintain 'Minecraft' and its community in all the ways people love today, with a commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future." Those efforts include continued support for the iOS, Android, PlayStation, Xbox and PC versions of the software.
Minecon, the annual Minecraft convention, will continue, said Spencer in an Xbox Wire blog post. "We'll look to create even more ways for the vibrant community of YouTuber's, innovators, bloggers and players to connect with each other—both in person and online," he added.
While expressing optimism for the future, Carl Manneh, CEO of Mojang, suggested that the game's creators, which include Mojang's outspoken co-founder, Markus Persson (a.k.a. Notch), are moving on. "As the founders move on to start new projects, we believe the high level of creativity from the community will continue the game’s success far into the future."