UPDATE: After making it clear earlier today via Twitter that he would not be taking any interviews on the sale of Mojang, founding developer Notch has released a statement via his personal blog. According the statement Notch claims that he will lave the company as soon as the sale is finalized, claiming that the role of game developer and CEO is not for him. He goes on to say that he sees himself as a programmer not a business leader and that the sale of Mojang is “…not about the money. It’s about my sanity.”
The rumors we reported last week have come to pass this morning as Microsoft officially announced this morning that it will purchase indie game developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. Mojang, of course, is the developer responsible for the hugely popular game Minecraft. The news comes as a surprise to many in the Minecraft community since Mojang founder Markus Persson, better known as Notch, said as recently as mid-June that he had no interest in selling the company for a massive pay day.
In a blog post Notch wrote “Mojang does not exist to make as much money as possible for the owners. As the majority shareholder, I’d know. Every time a big money-making deal comes up that would make a lot of money, it’s of course very tempting, but at the end of the day we choose to do what either makes the most sense for our products, or the things that seem like fun for us at Mojang.” It seems that something made Notch reverse course in a hurry, most likely the $2.5 billion that Microsoft is willing to put on the table to acquire the popular sand box game.
Notch himself has refused to comment on the deal or his abrupt turn-around on the sale of Mojang. His only response thus far has been a single tweet, refusing interviews.
Respectfully, I’m not going to be doing any interviews.
— Markus Persson (@notch) September 15, 2014
The news is getting mixed reactions from gamers on social media. Many in the Minecraft gaming community are reacting with surprise and concern but more than a few are optimistic that this could be a positive step for the game they love. Either that or they’re just sucking up to their new Microsoft overlords! Time will tell!
Change is always scary, but I’m excited for Minecraft’s future, specifically in the world of education.
— Stacy Hinojosa (@stacysays) September 15, 2014
Actually getting weirdly emotional over the whole thing. Not only for the game, but the people at Mojang. I hope Microsoft will keep them. — Dul (@DulJuice) September 15, 2014
Microsoft bought Mojang, we now need Kinect to play Minecraft — StrauberryJam (@StrauberryJam) September 15, 2014
A thriving YouTube community has built their video careers around posting Minecraft-related content. The news that the game will soon be in the hands of a software giant like Microsoft instead of an indie developer team is causing a some uncertainty about the future. While Mojang has been laid-back about enforcing their copyright privileges, Microsoft is a struggling software company that just laid off 18,000 employees including their entire digital studio. The company is hurting for profits and less likely to play nice with content creators.
To put the possible changes in perspective we caught up with Jason Probst, the YouTube creator behind Minecraft Universe. Jason has built a channel with nearly 2.3 million subscribers and well over 200 million views on the strength of his Minecraft content, so naturally he has a personal stake in the future of the game. We asked him what he thought about the possible changes but he seemed confident telling NMR, “I’ve been fan of Microsoft and the game’s they’ve made and I think they can only make it (Minecraft) better. They’re such a successful company and for me it could be a good change. As long as they support YouTubers, servers, and the community it can only grow.”
We asked Jason if he was at all worried that Microsoft would be more strict about enforcing copyright than Mojang has. “I would hope that they give the community full support and let them be free. It’s built on community and customization and I would hope that they realize that and give the community their freedom. It wouldn’t be Minecraft without the community.” Jason was also unworried about Microsoft attempting to push the XBox as the preferred platform for Minecraft, observing that, “If they want it to grow they’ll need to be working across multiple platforms and diversifying the community.” Despite the doom and gloom predictions of some industry bloggers, Jason is all optimism.
“I’m just excited to see the changes. If they say they support Minecraft and the community then that’s a good thing for all of us.”