Microsoft to acquire Minecraft for $2.5bn

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. Read the rest

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] Read the rest

"Scrolls" trademark tussle settled

ZeniMax has settled a trademark claim against Minecraft-famed Mojang and its forthcoming fantasy-themed card game, Scrolls. ZeniMax is the holding company for Bethesda Softworks, creator of Skyrim and other games in the Elder Scrolls series of computer role-playing games. In the settlement, Mojang—which won early court tussles in its native Sweden—is permitted to publish the game under it's current title, but releases ownership of the "Scrolls" trademark to ZeniMax. No damages will be paid. [Indiegames] Read the rest