Minecraft is one of those titles that has escaped my eye and remained an alien place to me. It has onlybeen recently that I discovered how popular a title Minecraft is with gamers; from those that consider themselves hardened Mojangsta to the children that enjoy what is an ultimate version of Lego . And so with it’s recent release on the PS4 and XB1, I began to sit up and take a little more notice of Minecraft .
Mojang(the Swedish developers) have sold over 54 million copies of Minecraft and that is a huge, huge number. Released in 2011 Minecraft was available across mobile platforms, PC and the last generation of consoles the player base is varied in both age and platform. But with the news that Microsoft have just struck a deal to secure the studio for $2.5 billion gamers rightly will feel nervous about what this means for the future of the game.
Microsoft and the PR minefield
Potentially with Microsoft looking to improve their share of future profit from Minecraft could see PC and Xbox gain some exclusivity – timed or not. Future projects from Mojang, like Scrolls , could also fall into the laps of a select group of gamers rather than the full spectrum. After the recent backlash that both Microsoft and Crystal Dynamics received from gamers after the way exclusivity was announced for the sequel to Tomb Raider , let’s hope things are handled with more care and at least a little bit of respect for the gamer when the Microsoft PR machine arrives at the doorstep of Minecraft .
Markus Persson is not to blame
Notch(aka Markus Persson) has confirmed that once the Microsoft/Mojang deal has completed he’ll step down as Chairman and leave Mojang. In a personal post Notch describes that the deal wasn’t just about money :
It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.
The post seems a heartfelt goodbye to Minecraft and the gamers who have helped make it what it is today. It goes a little way in explaining some of the factors that have influenced the sale to Microsoft. We can’t begrudge Notch from getting the best deal he can for an IP he didn’t expect to become as global as Minecraft has become. I mean $2.5 billion is the kind of deal that rarely comes around even once in developer’s lifetime. Getting that offer twice in a lifetime?! Nada!
So where does that leave the gamer?
Uncertainty is never a good thing whether it’s in a personal relationship or a business relationship. Gamers take their passion seriously. Game developers are notoriously gamers themselves and when a relationship develops, as it has between Mojang and Minecraft players, where these lines blur then any kind of change is going to be painful. That openness between developer and the gamer will be seen to be under threat. Especially when a company as huge and as faceless as Microsoft becomes involved in a once secure and meaningful cohabitation.
Mojang will certainly now feel that pressure far more than they have ever done before and it will at huge credit to them if they are able to ride the storms that are certain to come in one shape or form. I wish them all the best of luck!