Maker of the “Minecraft” videogame, Mojang AB is being bought by Microsoft for a whooping sum of $2.5billion. Microsoft is in talks to acquire the Swedish game company, which has a customer base of more than 50 million, and would lead into Microsoft’s access to a young demographic. Microsoft, which had tried before to buy Mojang, moved quickly to secure a deal as other potential suitors expressed interest, said a person familiar the matter. The two companies signed an exclusivity agreement in July, this person said, when Mojang’s founders were open to selling.
“Great content will drive the ability for Microsoft to expand the sales of its platforms, and bring it to new devices,” said Kent Wakeford, chief operating officer of Kabam Inc., which makes videogames such as “Kingdoms of Camelot.” The acquisition isn’t a big financial bet for a company as flush with cash as Microsoft, but Chief Executive Satya Nadella is taking a risk that “Minecraft” can have staying power and will prove bigger than a single brand. “We don’t view this acquisition as a signal of [Microsoft’s] intent to double down on Xbox but consider it an attempt to better address mobile on a cross-platform basis, Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund said in a research note last week.
Minecraft was introduced in 2009, and has sold more than 50 million copies for PCs, smartphones and videogame consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox. Through licensing deals, the game has also inspired top-selling guide books for Scholastic Corp, toys from Lego A/S and a coming feature film from Warner Bros.
“Thank you for turning ‘Minecraft’ into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big,” Mr. Persson, the game’s well-regarded creator wrote on his personal website. He declined interviews on Monday. Mr. Persson has said repeatedly he could never hope to replicate the success of “Minecraft,” and it became clear over recent months he was frustrated with managing Mojang and keeping up with its demanding fans.
Microsoft officials declined to comment Monday beyond prepared remarks. Microsoft said it expected the deal to break even in its 2015 fiscal year. The deal is expected to close late this year.