In this week’s “Now Loading…” segment, PlayStation LifeStyle’s staff discuss the future of Mojang and Minecraft in light of Microsoft’s acquisition of the studio and Markus “Notch” Persson’s subsequent departure. Please note that each opinion should be attributed to the respective individual and not to the website as a whole.
Chandler: Minecraft is huge. Apparently, to Microsoft, it was $2.5 billion huge. That’s a near incomprehensible amount of money to most of us, and the business decisions to move that kind of green from place to place are usually far above the majority of people. Notch never intended for his game to get this big, but the beast grew far beyond what he could have ever imagined. As he stated, he’s not a business guy. He’s a programmer, and he just wants to mess around on his computer. In some ways, I can’t blame him for wanting out. I can’t imagine the daily stress of having a $2.5 billion pop culture icon hanging over your head, so passing that responsibility on in exchange for a bit of spending money would be a welcome path to take.
I understand Microsoft’s decision and desire to purchase Mojang, as Minecraft has become a beast with entire merch lines, conventions, and a very rabid fan base of both hardcore and casual players alike. Microsoft didn’t buy a developer or a game, as much a they bought into an ecosystem that is already paying out dividends. How they decide to perpetuate the ecosystem in the coming years will be interesting to watch. The problem will come in if and when Microsoft decides to break out of the current culture and try to expand Minecraft into a sequel and beyond.
Minecraft was Notch’s, and Notch is Minecraft. Without him involved, some of that indie creativity that was just creating great content without thoughts on money will not be present, which means that any kind of follow up or expansion of what Minecraft is will be influenced by the looming $2.5 billion price tag rather than what a creator genuinely wants to make his product into. The future of Minecraft will be interesting to watch, but if the history of Microsoft buying up developers is anything to go by, what we’ll see will not be a Rare occurrence.
Zarmena: I’ve noticed a lot of hate being directed towards Notch over the sale of Mojang, but I don’t think anyone’s in a position to judge him when it comes to his decision. You can call him whatever, but if you’re offered a hefty sum for something you never really intended for to grow the way it did, then you’re probably going to lean towards selling it off as well. That said, my main point of concern is Microsoft’s acquisition of the studio.
I am not going to sit here and berate a company for its business decisions. It’s not like someone came up with the decision to buy Mojang overnight. Standard business practices involve analysis of future prospects, establishing long-term goals, and cost-benefit analysis among a number of other considerations. In other words, this was a well-calculated move. Yes, I’m still upset about the whole Rise of the Tomb Raider fiasco. But truth be told, Microsoft is only guilty of making lucrative offers (something not uncommon in the business world) because the actual decision to go ahead in both cases lied with the other parties. The main concern the gaming community should have is the future of Minecraft.
If we’re looking at tons of Microsoft-exclusive stuff (timed or otherwise) and little on offer for Minecraft fans on other platforms, then that’s a problem. Minecraft has a very diverse and loyal following around the world on various platforms, and such moves, regardless of how beneficial they are for Microsoft, are bound to rub people the wrong way. I’d want to avoid that because in the long run, a company’s reputation does matter. However, if Microsoft commits to serving the entire Minecraft community then I don’t see any red flags. Only time will tell how this all plays out.
D’yani: I’m very curious about just what ideas Microsoft has for Minecraft in the future. For some reason, I can’t quite shake the feeling that future Minecraft ventures will go the way of Angry Birds, with ridiculous marketing and way too many iterations and tons of merchandise in every store everywhere. And, I feel like if Minecraft were any different, it wouldn’t have the same draw, so what could they possibly do with it that would make it better? I guess a version with even more crafting recipes and elements would be nice, but that does not seem like $2.5 billion worth. Microsoft just seems jumpy and desperate to stay relevant to me. It’s as if they just googled (binged?) “really fun game” or something and bought out the first thing that came up. Also, if they are hoping to release new Xbox-exclusive Minecraft content, they will lose a lot of the main Minecraft community who play on their PCs in order to make use of the vast treasure trove of mods available for the game. I guess we’ll see!
Alex: What can be said that hasn’t been said already regarding this deal? People can hate Notch for “cashing out,” though I don’t see why they would since it’s his company, his game, and he can do whatever he wants with it.
Personally, I’m not a big Minecraft fan, but I know people who are. Minecraft is more than a game now and Microsoft knows it. Why else would they sink over $2 billion to a studio that hasn’t produced anything else? However, the main problem here is Microsoft’s attitude when it comes to software. The software giant has the biggest war chest in the games industry and this is what they use it for? Why not just set up a couple of studios of your own and build a great gaming franchise from the ground up? Sorry to say, but Fable is not one of those. Sure, Microsoft made the right move with the acquisition of Gears, but it’s nowhere near enough.
Maybe Microsoft is planning on continuing to do this? I honestly have no clue, but for now, people see this as Microsoft buying whatever it is that’s profitable and whatever it’s lacking on the software front. It’s a bold move, and one I’m not 100 percent certain will pay off. But a big kudos to it for not pulling Minecraft on non-MS platforms. I don’t think they can risk losing those customers after shelling out this much cash, so gamers should appreciate that, right?
Will Microsoft buy another company? I wouldn’t bet against it, but if it really wants to succeed, it should nurture and not think of their bank roll as the answer to everything. But hey, what do I know?
Are our readers, especially Minecraft fans, concerned about the acquisition? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.