Microsoft in talks to buy Minecraft for US$2bn

10 Sep 2014

Software giant Microsoft is believed to be in serious negotiations with the publisher of Minecraft, Mojang AB, about buying the platform for US$2bn.

Minecraft is a hugely popular online game that allows players to build things out of textured cubes in a 3D world.

The game has sold more than 12m copies on Xbox 360, 15m copies on PC, and nearly 54m copies across all platforms.

Mojang AB generated profits of US$100m last year from sales of the game. It employs only 40 people.

In 2007, programmer Markus ‘Notch’ Persson created Minecraft, which went on to be published in full in 2011.

The game, especially popular among kids and teens, has been praised for the creative freedom it grants players. A virtual industry has grown up around the game in terms of books and merchandise.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft is in discussions to acquire Mojang AB in a deal that values the Swedish company at US$2bn.

According to Bloomberg, talks are at an advanced stage and a deal could be wrapped up as early as next week.

The deal makes infinite sense for Microsoft due to the success of its Xbox 360 console business, but also it could be critical to the future of Microsoft’s Windows platform among consumers, especially in terms of app downloads and online services.

Microsoft believes it can drive even higher profitability out of Minecraft by increasing its user base and merchandising through toys and movies.

According to reports, Persson – who cancelled an Oculus Rift version of Minecraft when social network Facebook acquired the virtual reality headset maker – is likely to leave Mojang AB after it is acquired by Microsoft.

Minecraft image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years