In a stunning turn of recent events, Microsoft has acquired Mojang for a smooth $2.5 billion dollars. What more is there to say? The founders; Notch, Carl, and Jakob have moved on to greener fields, leaving Minecraft in the hands of this tech giant.
It was be expected, seeing as how Mojang treated the multiplayer community of server owners, developers and modders over recent months. More on that below. As for the players, nothing will change and you will still be able to play Minecraft on your tech gadget of choice. Microsoft plans to continue to make Minecraft available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.
According to Satya Nadella, CEO of 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 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.
Minecraft has grown from a simple game to a project of monumental significance. Though Mojang is massively proud of what Minecraft has become, it was never Notch’s intention for it to get this big.
“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 of 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.”
As you might already know, Notch is the creator of Minecraft and the majority shareholder at Mojang. He’s decided that he doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a company of such global significance. Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang and move on to other projects.
I’m still deeply torn regarding this decision and the chaos happening with Minecraft in recent months. On one hand, I’m happy that this project is finally within capable hands but on the other I’m sad to hear of yet another indie game company being gobbled up by the tech giants. I’ve seen these acquisitions go both ways, some turn out pretty good but most plateau and fade away or take a quick nosedive.
I also have a personal investment in this. I’ve had experience in running a Minecraft server that’s accumulated over 11k+ unique players over several years, helped other server owners, tweaked plugins and am fairly active in several communities that touch the core of what makes up the Minecraft Community. That being the intense creative output of people working behind the scenes to make the game better for themselves, sharing it with others and then watching their creation become popular and in some cases bought/pulled into Minecraft.
Remember when Steve Jobs left Apple and the world watched Apple struggle until their creative leader returned to revitalize Apple to make it into the tech giant it is today? Notch, in a similar way, was that indie game leader, the creative force that allowed his community to take his creation and make it into what it is today. I do not believe Minecraft became what it is today because Notch wanted his players to “will it into being”. I do not believe Minecraft became what it is today because his minuscule staff exerted super-human effort into making notable changes that molded Minecraft into a smooth running machine. Matter of fact, I don’t believe players kept “sticking around” because making dirt houses and killing enderdragons would be “cool” for the next 5 years.
I am of the strong opinion that Minecraft became what it is because of the creative input of server owners, plugin developers and modders who tweaked the multiplayer aspect of the game to fit their visions. Because we know that just having Single Player would have fizzled out a long time ago. Their ideals for the game just happened to stick somewhere within the community and became part of the game in some way. Now I’m not discrediting the work that the “Mojangsters” have done with pushing out version updates nor the initial vision of the game as envisioned by Notch, but can you honestly give credit where credit is due? Yes, I’m looking at you Notch and whoever else works at Mojang/Microsoft. And by credit I mean doing something other then a tip of the hat to people who have spent, collectively, longer hours and sleepless nights and endless debugging sessions and serious medical/family issues and intense times of stress then you ever will, working FOR FREE on your stupid game to make their friends and the multiplayer community happy? Give them more then a tip of your fedora as you leave, because in many ways it feels like a slap in the face to them.
Mojang, you owe your success of Minecraft to the multiplayer community that raised you to stardom. By selling out you may not have shown all your cards to the table, but you have shown us part of your true colors. Not necessarily bad in any way, but actions have a way of speaking louder then words do. Now I understand that a business can do whatever they want, whenever they want, because that is what businesses do all the time. Just don’t push the cash cow off the cliff, because it will soon start to cost you the integrity of your company name. All I need to do is say the name Enron to conjure up those enlightening memories, which I don’t ever want to see a company ever repeat again.
Microsoft, I’m hopeful you haven’t inherited a project that will soon fade out like Zune and the Halo franchise did. But if you’re listening, just please keep community involvement open source and encourage the creativity of server owners, plugin developers and modders to continue on to bigger and better ideas for the future. You’re nurturing a whole generation of programmers, video game developers/testers, business leaders and financial careers that would be in the worlds’ best interest to keep. As nasty as we are at times when it comes to changes and news, we’re human beings just like you.
My apologies, it appears my personal thoughts have leaked into this article. But I do hope, in some way, that you’ve finished reading this article with a bit more knowledge and an open mind. Thanks for letting me rant. 🙂
What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments and let’s start a conversation on this.