Microsoft Buying Mojang For $2bn Rumour – Hmmmmmm

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Microsoft is in talks with Minecraft creators Mojang, to buy them for a rumoured $2bn. Twoooooooo billion. This is all according to a WSJ source, that we obviously can’t verify, and might be a massive pile of plops. But if it is true, gone will be the days of trying to work out Notch’s riches by adding up publicly stated Minecraft sales, replaced by calculators that just say “E”.

It’s impossible to report anything other than speculation here, but WSJ are saying their source reports a deal could be signed as soon as the end of this week. Mojang are naturally remaining silent on the matter, but we’ve fired them an email in case they rightly think RPS is the place to announce the news.

The rationale goes, Microsoft would spend this much money for the 50 million+ user-base it would come with. And of course the massive cashcow that is Minecraft, and the enormous amount of marketing opportunities that Mojang hasn’t yet opted for. And DLC. And free-to-play. And forcing tiny infant puppies to play it in cruel laboratory sweat-shops. The rationale for accepting the deal would be TWO BILLION DOLLARS.

This isn’t the first time such rumours have surfaced, and Marcus “Notch” Persson claims to have turned down $2bn offers before. And there is obviously a strong instinctive reaction to scream, “NO NOTCH, NO! DON’T DO IT!” But then you have to imagine someone offering you TWO BILLION DOLLARS – as in, infinity money – and turning it down.

Clearly the idea of a company with a track record for development studio survivals like Microsoft’s, it’s a chilling prospect for the future of Mojang. They do rather close them down. And obviously anyone who cares about Minecraft’s future wouldn’t be called “cynical” for supposing it might not be idyllic.

Then again, the whole story might be complete bunkum from a Murdoch paper. We just don’t know! Exciting, isn’t it?

121 Comments

  1. mattevansc3 says:

    Seeing as Notch pulled Occulus Rift support from Minecraft because Facebook bought it I don’t see him selling out. Now $2bn is a stupid amount of money but Notch is already a multi-millionaire which is enough for most people and may no longer be THE motivating factor.

    • rittenhaus says:

      I do so hope that’s right. I still rather enjoy Minecraft and dread the modless XBone exclusive it’s bound to become if MS get their grubby hands on it.

      • Pop says:

        Ah, but imagine how many more polygons 2 BILLION DOLLARS could add to the game: cubes rendered a fidelity never previously dreamt of. Such things are only possible in the Next Gen.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          Aha.. hahahaha! Wait, unless you mean next gen as in the generation after the XBONE. Then.. maybe. But I’d say that’s still rather unlikely.

      • laijka says:

        But it’s already released on PS4.

        • Pop says:

          They could do a graphical update ala Homeworld or Halo. Minecraft HD: smaller cubes

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        How can it be an exclusive when it’s already been released on just about everything with a CPU?

        • rittenhaus says:

          It wouldn’t be the first time Microsoft bought another company in order to turn a PC game into a console exclusive…

          • Premium User Badge

            phuzz says:

            I’m assuming you’re talking about buying Bungie to get Halo, but the difference there was, Halo had not been released. Minecraft has been released, so how could an XBONE port be exclusive?

  2. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Complete bollocks.

    • RARARA says:

      I dunno what you mean. MS bought FASA, Rare, Ensemble Studios & Aces Studio and they’re all churning out… er… I’m sure MS knows what it’s doing.

  3. Gap Gen says:

    Thanks to a typo in the contract, Notch is actually just selling them a raft made of minced beef.

  4. mejoff says:

    It would shut the hipster personality cult up sharply though, wouldn’t it.

    • DavidK says:

      Minecraft is hipster?

    • GenBanks says:

      Mojang, Minecraft and Minecraft players are pretty ‘lamestream’… Hipsters play under-appreciated classics on their original Gameboys. Colour screens really took away the charm.

  5. staberas says:

    Nop sorry nothing less than…. 100 billion dollars *pinky finger on mouth*

    • Perkelnik says:

      Hahahaha! Its 1960s, this kind of money doesnt even exist yet!

  6. Premium User Badge

    Joshua says:

    88 MILES PER HOUR!

  7. olemars says:

    Don’t see when Notch would have had the time to sit in acquisition meetings, he’s been spending most of his days making doom clones in WebGL and streaming it on hitbox lately.

  8. Biscuitry says:

    While I have no reason to doubt that Mircrosoft might make such an offer, Persson has always been a vocal critic of Microsoft’s attitudes, both towards gaming and in general. I will be very surprised if he accepts such a thing.

  9. Zulthar says:

    $2bn honestly seems like a stupid amount of money. Minecraft isn’t going to make another $2bn in profit. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t just spend millions on a superior clone, it really shouldn’t be that hard to pull off.

    • SAM-site says:

      Minecraft as we know it today has already made a very large amount of money – consider not only the multi-platform sales, but the whole economy surrounding it from YouTube channels to merchandise to server rental. I’d be very surprised if it hadn’t thrashed the $2B mark in revenue to date – although only a small percentage of which would have landed in Mojang’s coffers.

      Consider the sheer volume of players the game has, and just how big it is in terms of general awareness. It’s not just a game, or a game franchise, it’s a genuine social phenomenon.

      Might sound like a lot of money to pay for a single game that has already shot most of its load in sales (or has it?) but in terms of a franchise and the financial possibilities it has, the numbers are huge.

      It’ll be interesting to see whether Notch’s integrity can be purchased – I suspect it very much can.

      • frightlever says:

        I can’t see Mojang being worth two billion with lifetimes “sales” at, what, half a billion? And no prospect of Mojang pulling off a similar franchise in the future. If the company has retained most of their profits (likely true) then a valuation is basically assets plus good will. If they’d got a half billion dollars in the bank then maybe another half billion for goodwill and the Mojang games IP for around a billion dollars total. I could just about see that but I think it’d be backing a fading star.

        But suppose it was worth even a billion dollars – you can do a lot of good with that kind of money. Kickstart a bunch of independent games, set up foundations or give to other charities. Notch’s integrity can survive a sale to Microsoft.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          There is no price to put on peoples hearts and minds.

          No diamond costs the millions it sells for. What people pay for is either the view of value, or the impression, power and influence it gives.

          You would pay 2 billion for Minecrafts email list only (each client needs to log in). So proportional to the Facebook IPO (which again was overpriced for the company, but priceless for the value/control/information such a company holds) it makes sense.

          These people don’t want you as a customer anymore. They want to control you. They want YOU! (Over the top dramatic music… which while exaggerated, is probably close to their thought process.)

      • eggy toast says:

        “Minecraft is popular I bet it already broke 2bil” is the epitome of Online Gamer Wisdom, completely divorced from any grounding in reality or appreciation of actual real numbers and what the really mean.

      • Mo says:

        I don’t think $2bn lifetime sales on the Minecraft game (and related merchandise) is crazy at all, actually. My understanding is that their revenue is *growing* every year, not slowing down. I looked up the numbers super-quick, but it’s $100M in 2012 [1] and ~$300M in 2013 [2]. There’s this idea that Minecraft is a saturated product, but there are more kids everyday getting into Minecraft, and on more platforms. So there’s no good reason why their sales *shouldn’t* be growing into 2014 and beyond.

        And that’s *just* the single product, nevermind the franchise, branding, and so on. Saying that Minecraft has run its course is like saying “well, Mario is done” after Mario Bros on the NES. It’s clear that Minecraft isn’t a passing trend, but a robust franchise with many years ahead of it … in the right hands, of course.

        sources:
        [1]: link to kotaku.com
        [2]: link to eurogamer.net

        • Leb says:

          you realize 100 million dollars is….1/20th of 2 billion dollars right? That plus the 300 million from 2014 and we’re talking 2/10s of 2 billion. Assuming no expenses, you are proposing they are worth 1.6 billion in goodwill – this is a company that made one successful game and every other attempt at a game has been laughable.

          Further, it may be growing, but every product has a lifecycle. At one point, probably near in the future, growth will plateau and start to shrink. MS is considering acquisition after 2 and a half years of growth have already sunk in. I just find it highly unlikely that Mojang will facilitate further growth for this investment to be worth it.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            Disney never bought “Star Wars Episode 1” they bought the label/name/franchise. Same here. Crazy money, but from those with crazy money.

            Bottled water is overpriced by 200% compared to my tapped water. But when I’m out jogging and have no bottles on me, I’m glad to pay for it in the local shop (though planning would be a better idea! ;) ).

    • AngoraFish says:

      I’m guessing that the appeal of Minecraft is primarily name recognition. After all, how many games have their own line of Lego? “Minecraft 2” would be absolutely huge, not to mention that the associated income from merchandise would potentially significantly outstrip any direct profits from the game itself. Microsoft has the resources to pull this off too… coming up next: the Minecraft Movie!

      • Xocrates says:

        I’m more willing to believe in further merchandise and monetization of the original game than a Minecraft 2 any time soon. I don’t see a way of making a sequel without it either being redundant or removing much of what made the original interesting and successful.

        This is not to say it couldn’t happen, I wouldn’t put it past microsoft doing it just so they could have the exclusive and more control over how it’s used and monetised in the future, but I find if dubious it would go down well when the original is still growing.

        • Nixitur says:

          I don’t think Minecraft 2 will ever be a good idea. Most of Minecraft’s appeal lies in its mods and there’s new mods being created all the time.

          You can bet that a Minecraft 2 under Microsoft’s direction wouldn’t be nearly as easy to mod for. And what would probably be more damning would be that the mods just wouldn’t be there for Minecraft 2. What reason would I have to play Minecraft 2 if I have so many interesting mods for the original Minecraft that expand the game beyond Notch’s and Microsoft’s wildest dreams?

          And let’s not forget the World of Warcraft problem. A lot of Minecraft servers provide a social experience.
          You’re playing with your friends and you’re having a grand ol’ time. Unless everyone switched over to Minecraft 2 immediately, you’d lose your gaming group.
          It’s the same reason why most people are reluctant to switch from one MMO to another.

      • Shadow says:

        Minecraft: The Movie. Now that’s an instant blockbuster.

        Sorry, couldn’t resist. ;P

  10. Emohawk says:

    I could see Mojang being a little fed up recently with the Minecraft community; what with the EULA backlash and the Bukkit takedown notice, but this is a little extreme. It’s probably all bollox/rumours/slow news day..

    • frymaster says:

      if the “source” is correct, the talks predate the Bukkit drama, but probably not the EULA drama.

      • pullthewires says:

        Possibly this rumour comes from disgruntled members of the community hoping to whip up anti-minecraft sentiment by linking them with Microsoft, who still can’t quite shake the satan-of-software role.

        • TechnicalBen says:

          Or someone with more than a handful of MS stock/shares and wanting a small % increase off the back of some trumped up rumours.

  11. Drake Sigar says:

    If Majang were mine I’d take the money and sell you all out in a heartbeat.

  12. eggy toast says:

    They’ve already sold a zillion copies of Minecraft on every possible platform under the sun, the real dichotomy here is between cashing out while people still want to throw ten figures at you or to fade away and spend the rest of your life wishing you had.

    • JFS says:

      Do you believe Notch dreams about even more money? I wonder if he’d even be able to spend the wealth he already possesses.

  13. Tei says:

    Corporations turn everything they touch into shit. So they have to buy more companies to turn into shit.

    Their internal politics is so anti-creativity, anti-productivity and so on, that they can’t produce anything worthwhile by themselves.

    But at the same time they are behemoth that Can’t Not Die.

    • drinniol says:

      Every game studio that forms a company is a corporation, sorry to break it to you.

      • frightlever says:

        Nope. A company can be a partnership or sole owner, corporations have shareholders.

        • eggy toast says:

          A corporation can have a single share holder holding 100% of the company, “OMG CORPORATIONS” is no less stupid or empty than “OMG CHEMICALS” when the whole world is made up of chemicals.

        • Bury The Hammer says:

          Worth noting that Mojang is privately traded (known in the UK as a limited company). They have shareholders – I imagine it’s mostly employees.

          Source: link to allabolag.se (you might have to translate that one)

        • newc0253 says:

          Sorry, but ‘company’ and ‘corporation’ have different legal meanings depending on which jurisdiction you’re talking about.

          As a general rule, what Americans call ‘corporations’, the English call ‘companies’. Both are essentially the same thing: the creation of a separate legal entity that is distinct from the individuals who run it or own it. That makes them different from things like sole traders and partnerships, etc.

          In both the US and UK, companies can be 100% privately owned or publicly traded. Mojang is already a company, albiet privately owned. The real potential for evil generally comes when a company goes public. The main advantage is that you can raise loads more money to invest in your product. The well-known downside is that you are answerable to your shareholders who generally don’t give a crap about your artistic integrity.

          I think 2bn for any game is pretty impressive but the question of whether Mojang should sell is really for them. If they truly care about keeping Minecraft free of crap, then they should refuse. On the other hand, they can always sell and then cry themselves to sleep on a bed of money.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            I guess it goes as follows.

            A person is clever.
            People are stupid.

            Or better put, “try a car with 2 drivers in the driving seat!”

            When so many people, either share holders or large Directorships, get involved, the company is destined to veer off the road!

      • P.Funk says:

        Its very clear that when people talk about the evil shit that Corporations do they mean the big ass ones with fiduciary duties so immense that they can’t be arsed to give a damn about people, consumers, culture, the environment, or in general doing anything considered even mildly decent or beneficial to the human race.

        A tiny corporation nobody has ever heard of is not what the colloquial use of “corporations” means.

        Its foolish to try and start an argument against a very obvious colloquial meaning. The “zomg read the dictionary definition noob” thing is kinda obnoxious.

  14. DrScuttles says:

    Principles be damned; there’s nothing I wouldn’t do (and nothing I wouldn’t do it to) for 2 billion dollars. But then I’m not yet in posession of a machine that prints money and worshipped as a god by tiny little scamps across the globe.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Well, thankfully (hopefully?) you’re not in any position to be offered such an offer (gah, English). There are already enough people on this planet who are.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      “We’ve already established what you are. Now we’re just haggling over the price.”

  15. AbyssUK says:

    Honestly sell M$ the company name and minecraft etc but keep the rights to continue games development.
    Create a new studio if needed then make the next big thing.

    Notch/ the Mojang team are more than just minecraft and I for one would like to see them free of it so they can concentrate on newer things (that they might actually finish!). The x08c (or whatever it was called) concept was brilliant and am sure they have some other cool concepts up thier sleeves (or can get the money to buy some!).. free minecraft and get on with something else!

    • eggy toast says:

      Mojang isn’t more than Minecraft, the entire studio has never finished a single project, unless you count Minecraft, which you shouldn’t because its an absolute unfinished mess.

      • DrScuttles says:

        Mojang teaches the attitude of the knife – chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: Now it’s complete because it’s ended here.

      • P.Funk says:

        Do you call it a mess because its unfinished? Bit biased really since its unfinished state appears to be invisible other than the fact that we know they keep developing it. Minecraft is a game that would have been released and done many many iterations ago if it were in different hands, perhaps Microsoft hands. Minecraft being unfinished is merely the result of developers being ungreedy and focusing on continuing to provide support to a product that probably a majority of people bought at a pitiful price years ago rather than ending developing and beginning a new iteration called Minecraft 2 that would have a lot of the new features in it.

        Imagine. “Minecraft 2, now with spells and better weather, more impressive graphics and new monsters and dimensions” or just “Minecraft’s latest patch includes….”

        Sometimes… sometimes I think people don’t know how good they have it.

  16. Bradamantium says:

    I wonder what exactly Microsoft’s endgame would be with this. EXCLUSIVE TO XBOX ONE AND WINDOWS: MINECRAFT 2? “That’s nice,” say the hordes of gamers perfectly content to stick with Minecraft as they know it, where they know it. Particularly those on PC who’ve got access to enough mods, bits, and bobs to make themselves a Minecraft 2 infinity times over.

    • frightlever says:

      “EXCLUSIVE TO XBOX ONE.”

      Fixed that for you.

      • Bradamantium says:

        That’s been synonymous with “and Windows a handful of months later” as often as not, hasn’t it? Seems it’d be shooting the potential sequel in the foot, really. Part of the ongoing massive sales of Minecraft is the fact that it’s being ported to just about everything with a screen.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yes, that’s exactly what I think this is. If someone can own Minecraft 2, they get to own a money tree.

      • P.Funk says:

        But what would Minecraft 2 be? Something tells me it would just be an end to Minecraft 1 development with all future Minecraft development plans focused into a new superfluous product.

        What exactly does Minecraft need anyway? Its like saying you’re going to come out with a sequel to Lego. All we really want or need is just a new box of bits, and any label with the number 2 on it will be entirely marketing.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      It’s what happened to Bungie. Yeah, I’m still annoyed by that when it comes up. Bungie used to be one of the good guys.

  17. bad guy says:

    Sell it, and open 10 new studios.

  18. Scurra says:

    I suspect these sort of stories are also a part of the “actual money” problem that big corporations are having these days. It’s all very well sheltering vast sums of cash in off-shore tax havens, but the problem is that you can’t use it very easily once you’ve built that corporate HQ made of gold. Buying something for an absurd amount gets rid of a lot of it very quickly, in exchange for something that can be put in a different column in the accounts.

  19. Radiant says:

    He could sell and FUND HIS OWN MINECRAFT COUNTRY.
    Two billion he could fund his own moon colony.

    TWO BILLION ON A MONETARY SCALE IS BEYOND THE AVERAGE PERSONS UNDERSTANDING OF REALITY.

  20. InfamousPotato says:

    I’m… not sure where I stand on this. I mean, I wouldn’t much care if Microsoft owned it, as long as I can play the version I have now, what can they do to me? On the other hand, for some strange reason I don’t trust Microsoft, or many other large companies (although I seem to simultaneously trust Valve and worry that they’ll take over the world. It’s a weird relationship). Anywho, whatever they choose, good for Mojang. It must feel pretty awesome to have started as a small indie developer who made a game based on mining and placing blocks to having mega-corporations offer two billion for your work.

  21. Cross says:

    If Notch is prudent and not too stuck up with his principles, he’ll take the two billion dollars, take the entire staff with him from Mojang, start a new studio, and use those two billion to make the BEST GAME EVAAAAARRR.

    • Niko says:

      He doesn’t seem to be quite interested in that studio staff and making best game ever though. It’s not like he has the philosopher’s stone of games or something.

      • Geebs says:

        For the benefit of our American cousins, Niko meant “sorcerer’s stone”

        • Niko says:

          Wait, but do they call it “sorcerer’s stone” even when not referring to Harry Potter? As in “my uncle makes 1000$ a day converting scrap metal to gold with philosopher’s stone in his basement”?

          • Geebs says:

            I don’t think so really, it was just a dig. Now, if anybody needs me, I’m off down the video store to rent The Madness of George, parts 1 and 2.

    • Shadow says:

      For two billion dollars, I doubt Microsoft will want the company name and the game without all the brainpower normally behind it. Like Facebook and the Oculus Rift, I doubt they’ll just take the thing and call it a deal: my guess is they’ll take the people too, to keep working on it under new corporate masters.

      • Wedge says:

        I assure you all the talent at Mojang is unlikely even 1% of the value of such an offer. Which is not to say they don’t have some perfectly competent people there, but the value in anything they can offer is nothing compared to the IP. There’s nothing complex or groundbreaking about the technology, and the game design itself is not something that requires (or they would likely even want) the abilities of the people currently working there, considering Microsoft’s focus would be purely on ways to maximize monetization of the IP.

  22. lokimotive says:

    On the other hand, maybe he could fund Psychonauts 2 with that kind of money.

  23. derbefrier says:

    It would be funny if the poster boy of the indie scene sold out to MS. Not that I wouldn’t do it in a heartbeat but. I don’t have his. Reputation.

    • Grygus says:

      Don’t be. ABSURD we all. Know. WHO. You ARE. Mister Shatner we. Are all. FANS.

  24. goertzenator says:

    A few weeks ago I was lamenting how Minecraft lacks an actual modding API, and how the engine is glitchy and inefficient for where modders are trying to take it. If a technically superior engine and game arrived, it wouldn’t matter because Minecraft has so much inertia and mindshare. So even though I love Minecraft and its mods, I am actually *excited* at the prospect of MS ruining Minecraft. Dethroning the king would create so much opportunity for the genre.

  25. Lionmaruu says:

    lol 2billions is a lot of milions… if would sell my soul and buy some other cheaper soul and go on with my life

    I would sell it now, just offer me.

    I am sure its just a hoax, but it they really offered it, Notch would have to be crazy not to take it. just start a new studio! on a island you bought, with your fucking bilions…

  26. Premium User Badge

    DantronLesotho says:

    With $2 billion, they could do a whole lot of good for a whole lot of people. Or they could just waste it all on ice cream. I wish I had $2 billion worth of ice cream :(

    • Niko says:

      You’d need a waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more expensive fridge to keep all this ice cream.

  27. fish99 says:

    I think Microsoft are more interested in the Minecraft IP than the actual company Mojang, it’s employees, or what they can produce, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Mojang were wound down over the next few years (especially given that Notch reportedly wants to leave) and development of Minecraft was taken in-house or given to some other studio. Obviously that’ll be sad for the people working there now but they’re probably all share holders anyway.

    I do wonder what this will mean for the PC version, the multiplayer and the mod scene, and whether MS realize it’s the mods that drive a lot of sales on PC.

  28. Urthman says:

    I’d love to see someone do a Minecraft 2 re-written from scratch in an engine designed to handle what it has become, designed to easily incorporate mods. Mojang aren’t going to do it. But I can’t believe Microsoft could do it without screwing it up completely.

  29. CMaster says:

    No mention of if that offer is in cash (unlikley, but would be a hell of a sweet deal) or, as most of these kinds of big money offers are, 10% cash + 90% shares (which you aren’t allowed to sell for a certain amount of time).

    Also, my understanding is that Mojang don’t own Minecraft. Some kind of Notch-owned holding company owns minecraft, and Mojang pay them a MASSIVE royalty fee for that. I’d guess Microsoft intend on taking the Minecraft property off of Notch Holdings too.

  30. MykulJaxin says:

    I was theorizing about what this would mean for the jobs of the forty employees. I figured that they could all quit and Notch could give them each a cool five million dollars, then they wouldn’t be victim to Microsoft’s tyranny.

  31. Moraven says:

    Rather they invest the $2b into many new IP.

    Easier to buy a current successful money mill.

  32. HisDivineOrder says:

    On the other hand, Amazon just secured a 2 billion loan for investments two days ago. Amazon just got done “stealing” a purchase from Google. “Stealing” one from Microsoft seems like fair game to me.

    I think it’s possible he wants to sell Minecraft while he can to make a ton of money and then re-invest it into a studio that can develop something else or even successors to Minecraft that are not Minecraft. Most of these stories are reporting that if the sale goes through, he won’t stay on at Mojang, which leads credence to this theory.

    Will people care if the successor is actually called Minecraft? No.

  33. Jimbo says:

    They will never see that money back. If this is legit, Notch should bite their hand off.

  34. thekelvingreen says:

    If Microsoft buys Minecraft, does that screw over the Yogscast?

  35. SheffieldSteel says:

    Knowing Microsoft, they are actually offering $2147483647, and if Mojang accept this offer, it will turn out that they actually lose one dollar.