An unnamed source close to The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft is currently in discussions to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang AB in a deal valued at more than $2 billion. The source said that the deal could be signed as early as this week.
Mojang's popular sandbox construction game Minecraft was released in May 2009 as an alpha and launched as a retail product in November 2011. Since then, Mojang has sold more than 54 million copies of the game across the PC, consoles and mobile devices. According to the paper, the game and related licensed products generated $100 million in profits just in 2013 alone.
It's understandable that Microsoft may have an interest in Mojang. As of June 2014, more than 12 million gamers owned the Xbox 360 version ($20), and the Xbox One copy just made its debut on September 5, 2014. Even the PlayStation 3 version has proven to be popular, reeling in more than 3 million copies sold as of June.
Minecraft has become a cult hit, allowing players to jump into a blocky world and create anything, from calculators to the starship Enterprise to full-fledged cities. Players can turn on a "survival" mode that allows players to fend off creatures such as giant spiders, zombies, skeletons and even Creepers. Players can also choose to simply build in "creative" mode.
As it stands now, both Microsoft and Mojang are not commenting on the report. However, an acquisition by Microsoft would be a surprising move for Mojang given founder Markus "Notch" Persson's stance about remaining as an independent developer. The paper points out that Persson has in the past "shunned" investment from outsiders and even criticized Windows 8 before the platform was released.
If a deal between Microsoft and Mojang is reached, the purchase would be the first multibillion-dollar acquisition by Microsoft with new CEO Satya Nadella in place. The acquisition would be an unusual investment given Nadella has indicated that Xbox is not a core business for Microsoft, the paper pointed out.
If Microsoft acquires Mojang, what would happen to Minecraft, especially the versions on competing platforms? Likely nothing at all; you can't fix something that isn't broken, and the Minecraft franchise has shown that it's far from being broken.