Microsoft to acquire Minecraft for $2.5bn

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Tech giant Microsoft is to buy Mojang, creators of Minecraft, for $2.5bn, reports the Associated Press.

Launched in 2009, Minecraft is a sprawling, endlessly-replayable "sandbox" game that dumps the player in a randomly-generated abstract world. By exploring, gathering materials, crafting items and equipping their avatars, players can set about surviving hostile fauna, launching expeditions deep into ore-filled caverns, and constructing anything from huts to palaces, and even vast machines.

The phenomenal appeal and success of Minecraft -- just check our archives over the last few years! -- is hard to define, but it's been downloaded more than 100 million times since its inception. Created by Markus "Notch" Persson, Minecraft remains the most popular game on Xbox, and the most popular paid game on iOS and Android, according to the AP.

Yet that word hardly scratches the surface of the blocky world-simulator's Lego-like possibilities, though: a fact hit on by Satya Nadella, Microsoft's new CEO, who said that it was "more than a game."

"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," Nadella was quoted as saying in the press release. Microsoft expects to close the sale by the end of 2014, and break even by the end of 2015.

Microsoft also committed to keeping Minecraft available on all the platforms on which it is available today, including Sony Playstation and cellphones running Apple and Google-based operating systems

"Yes, the deal is real," wrote Mojang's Owen Hill at the company's official blog. " ... Please remember that the future of Minecraft and you – the community – are extremely important to everyone involved. If you take one thing away from this post, let it be that."

Notch, he wrote, didn't want the responsibility of owning a company that had become globally successul, and had found that the pressure of owning Minecraft made it impossible to work on other projects.

Here's Microsoft's press release, in full:

Microsoft Corp. today announced it has reached an agreement to acquire Mojang, the celebrated Stockholm-based game developer, and the company’s iconic “Minecraft” franchise.

The Mojang team will join Microsoft Studios, which includes the studios behind global blockbuster franchises “Halo,” “Forza,” “Fable” and more. Microsoft’s investments in cloud and mobile technologies will enable “Minecraft” players to benefit from richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect across the “Minecraft” community.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire Mojang for $2.5 billion. Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis. Subject to customary closing conditions and any regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close in late 2014.

Available across multiple platforms, “Minecraft” is one of the most popular video games in history, with more than 100 million downloads, on PC alone, by players since its launch in 2009. “Minecraft” is one of the top PC games of all time, the most popular online game on Xbox, and the top paid app for iOS and Android in the US. The “Minecraft” community is among the most active and passionate in the industry, with more than 2 billion hours played on Xbox 360 alone in the past two years. Minecraft fans are loyal, with nearly 90 percent of paid customers on the PC having signed in within the past 12 months.

“Gaming is a top activity spanning devices, from PCs and consoles to tablets and mobile, with billions of hours spent each year,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “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.”

“The ‘Minecraft’ players have taken the game and turned it into something that surpassed all of our expectations. The acquisition by Microsoft brings a new chapter to the incredible story of ‘Minecraft,’” said Carl Manneh, CEO, Mojang. “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.”

Microsoft plans to continue to make “Minecraft” available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.

“‘Minecraft’ is one of the most popular franchises of all time,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. “We are 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.”

More details will be available upon the acquisition closing.

Lego wishes it invented Minecraft

"Minecraft is digital Lego," says Lego marketing director David Gram. "We only wish we had invented it." This is mentioned in about the same breath as the phrase "core brand beliefs," a concise reminder why they didn't.

Danish Geodata Agency commissions 1:1 Minecraft replica of Denmark

For the kids! (Thanks, Shi-n0-bi) Cory 8

Minecraft videos: booming industry with millions of viewers

Glenn Fleishman writes, "Minecraft YouTube videos are fantastically popular, and a core group of producers of these videos have enjoyed a wild ride up the virtual charts. Diamond Minecart, a YouTube channel by 22-year-old Daniel Middleton of Northamptonshire, England, has almost 1.9 million subscribers, and people have watched his videos over 400 million times."

Read the rest

Three good Minecraft books

My daughter Jane (age 11) grew bored with World of Warcraft (at least for now), but her passion for Minecraft has not waned after a couple of years of playing it. She and her friends love to create towns with libraries, city halls, apartments, subway systems, farms, and jails. I enjoy playing Minecraft with her, too.

If you are interested in getting started in Minecraft, buy it and start chopping and digging. Get answers to your questions by asking your kids, and referring to YouTube and Minecraft wikis. If that's still not enough, here are a few recommended Minecraft books:

The Ultimate Player's Guide to Minecraft, by Stephen O'Brien. This thorough guide to surviving and thriving in the world of Minecraft was written by a guy who loves Minecraft and has explored it deeply. (The author is also the inventor of the Mypressi espresso machine, which we reviewed on Boing Boing Gadgets. I miss Boing Boing Gadgets.)

The Minecraft Guide for Parents, by Cori Dusmann. This is especially good for parents of younger kids who need help buying and installing Minecraft. It also has good tips on how to play Minecraft with your kids.

Minecraft: The Unlikely Tale of Markus "Notch" Persson and the Game that Changed Everything, by by Daniel Goldberg and Linus Larsson. A compelling short biography of the creator of Minecraft. It's intended audience is probably adults, but most 10-year-olds would have no problem reading it.

1:1 scale model of Manhattan in Minecraft


Christopher Mitchell, a PhD candidate in NYU's Computer Science program, is building a 1:1 scale model of Manhattan in Minecraft, with faithful, handmade reproductions of each of the island's skyscrapers. He's relying on data from diverse sources, including Google Earth, and the model to date is 277m^2, with 71Bm^3 of volumetric detail, running on a 200 core cluster with 200GB of RAM. It's part of a larger project (!), called Sparseworld, through which Mitchell is combining data from diverse geographical and architectural systems to faithfully model the physical world.

Read the rest

3D printer in Minecraft

Derryl Murphy sez, "My son is home sick and found this video showing a 3D printer ItsJustJumby created for working inside the world of Minecraft. The engineering is way beyond the two of us, but we both still find it amazing and fascinating."

I could watch this all day. The description's actually very clear, and extremely clever. Great engineering smarts on display.

3D Printer With 16 Colors - Minecraft Invention (Thanks, Derryl!)

Minecraft documentary

It's 85 minutes long, and it gets right into the meat of things. There are interviews with Notch, the Mojang crew, and game design luminaries, but the documentarians also capture the game's vibe in a way that few others do: that strange, expansive sense of place. You can download a DRM-free HD copy at the official website. [Video Link]

Minecraft's worlds get a new look

Minecraft's real star is its landscape, flowing psuedo-randomly from whatever name you give your world. But it also became a checkerboard of predictable components: rolling hills here, weirdly-shaped mountains there, and perhaps an abrupt patch of swamp or tropical jungle between them.

But not anymore: a new update, out today, revises the land-making algorithms and adds a bunch of new biomes--areas with a distinctive climate type, flora and fauna--and creates more natural transitions between them. There are cliffs, giant lakes, canyons, redwood forests, all sorts of new flowers and grasses, the option of wildly eroded "skylands", as pictured above, and much else besides.

A lot of other things are also improved in the "snapshot" preview of Minecraft 1.7, including a far more elaborate fishing system: you may now find all sorts of things in the water. This Reddit thread has all the details. (Note: If installing the snapshot release, it'll create ugly seams in saved worlds anywhere that the old meets the new)

LEGO Minecraft - 2 new models coming out in September

Lego announced two new Minecraft micro-worlds. The Village and The Nether measure 3”x3”x3” , and will be available September 1. If you can't wait, you can get the 480-piece Lego Minecraft building set now.

Westeros (Game of Thrones) built in Minecraft

Here's a Time video about Jacob Granberry's effort to build Westeros, from Game of Thrones, in Minecraft. More at WesterosCraft. (Thanks, Ben Cosgrove!)

Drop: Minecraft creator's latest game is a typing tutor (or seems like one)

Have at it. My top score is 11 because I can't type.

Carpets now in Minecraft

You may now get carpet in Minecraft and get Minecraft carpet. Sort of.

Astounding Beetlejuice roller-coaster made in Minecraft

This five-minute video takes you on a tour of the astounding Beetlejuice roller-coaster created by Nuropsych1 and friends. It incorporates many of the best visual elements from this outstanding film, all set to an excellent remix of the Beetlejuice soundtrack, one of the great instrumental pieces of all time.

This was done on the XBOX 360 in creative mode. We worked on it off and on for two months.

Beetle Juice - A Minecraft Roller Coaster (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Minecraft gets animated textures

Pixelated indie RPG Minecraft now has the ability to use animated textures for its chunky world-blocks. Perhaps you're thinking that the modding community will be use this feature to create subtly-windswept vegetation and more convincing lava? No. It will be used to make you retch. [via RPS]