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This past week, Microsoft purchased Minecraft maker Mojang for a hefty $2.5 billion.
Mojang’s CEO Markus “Notch” Persson wrote a touching letter to fans where he explained his reason behind the decision. Apparently, Notch reached out to Microsoft about the buyout because he was tired of being a CEO and wanted to go back to being a “nerdy computer programmer.”
Anyways, as part of the Mojang deal, Notch is leaving the company. His future is uncertain, but he certainly won’t be hurting for cash. Maybe he can buy a new hat?
Should you be excited about Microsoft buying Mojang? Or should you be extremely worried? Today, I’m going to answer the questions on every Minecraft player’s brain and explain the pros and cons of the “Microcraft” deal:
3 reasons why the Microsoft deal could be bad for Minecraft
Minecraft is Microsoft’s property now, and that means it can do whatever it wants with it. I want to be clear here: Microsoft has not announced any plans with Minecraft at this point in time, so everything that’s bad is pure speculation. Still, there are some things to consider:
1) Microsoft may choose to restrict Minecraft games to Microsoft platforms
Microsoft hasn’t really invested anything in PC gaming in a long time (the disastrous Games for Windows Live program still makes PC gamers cringe). So releasing Minecraft purely for Windows 9 seems less likely.
Will Microsoft use Minecraft as the “killer” app? It could. Microsoft did the same with Halo 2 and Windows Vista, and it’s desperately trying to promote the Xbox One. Minecraft has powerful followings on Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and Playstation 4, and all of those fanbases would be disappointed by a Microsoft-exclusive Xbox One.
Fortunately, Microsoft is promising to keep Minecraft alive on “competing” platforms at this time. So the end isn’t nigh – at least, we hope not.
2) Fill it with in-app purchases
Microsoft has been nicknamed Micro$oft in the past – and not in an endearing way. Microsoft could fill Minecraft with in-app purchases and monetize the crap out of it.
That’s the route EA has taken with many of its games. In Minecraft, in-app purchases could be used to:
-Buy a rare craftable item
-Buy new terrain and new biomes
-Buy new items and content
Minecraft has a rich modding community on PC, and PC Minecraft users enjoy getting new content for free. Microsoft could monetize Minecraft on the Xbox One and charge for modding content, however. They’d make a killing.
3) Run the company into the ground
Microsoft doesn’t have a great reputation when it comes to buying good gaming companies.
In the early 2000s, Microsoft bought out British game developer Rare, which was renowned for Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct, GoldenEye 007, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Perfect Dark.
After Microsoft purchased Rare, the company became devoted to producing Xbox games – including two Xbox 360 launch games and other Xbox exclusives. The studio was also responsible for Kinect Sports Rivals – an Xbox One game that debuted to average reviews.
Microsoft’s other major game studios – including Turn 10 Studios (makers of Forza), 343 Industries (makers of Halo), and Lionhead Studios (makers of Fable) – have all focused exclusively on developments for Xbox.
In other words, Microsoft could flip a giant middle finger to fans on the Playstation and mobile devices and develop Minecraft (or Minecraft 2) exclusively for the Xbox One.
That wouldn’t make Microsoft any friends, but it would make them smart businesspeople.
3 reasons why it could be a good thing for Minecraft
1) Improve Minecraft using various Microsoft services
Microsoft has a few good services that could legitimately enhance Minecraft. Here are some ideas:
-Hosting Minecraft Realms servers to Azure’s cloud servers
-Syncing Minecraft saves across OneDrive and seamlessly integrate your Minecraft profiles on PCs and tablets
-Multiplayer chat using Skype
Will Microsoft do any of this? Maybe.
2) Throw money at it
Mojang is a hugely profitable company with a great success story. However, at this point, Minecraft – one of the largest games in the world – is still only maintained by fewer than 50 people.
That’s not very many. Microsoft may throw cash at Minecraft to try to make it the best game it can be. What happens when Mojang hires four times as many employees? We may find out.
3) Make a version of Minecraft for Windows Phone
A few years ago, Persson said that Windows Phone was too insignificant to bother making a mobile version of Minecraft for. That was true – especially with a staff of just a few dozen people.
Now that Mojang is owned by Microsoft, that may change. Xbox One is facing the same userbase problems as Windows Phone and Microsoft is looking for ways to attract users to its system. A well-designed Minecraft: Pocket Edition for Windows would do exactly that.
Of course, we didn’t even mention the possibility of Minecraft 2. Could there be a Minecraft 2? Could there be Minecraft expansion packs? How will Microsoft make money off a game that is played mostly by young people?
I can’t wait to find out.