Will Microsoft ruin Minecraft?
In nearly every piece of Microsoft communication today following the $2.5 billion acquisition, Microsoft tried to reassure the passionate fan base that it would uphold the game community. Meanwhile, press releases from Mojang — the parent company behind the Minecraft franchise — made no attempt to downplay the situation. They said they couldn’t promise that things wouldn’t change under new management.
“We can only share so much information right now, but we’ve decided that being as honest as possible is the best approach. We’re still working a lot of this stuff out. Mega-deals are serious business,” according to Mojang.
@satyanadella Please look after us!
— Lex? (@figureight) September 15, 2014
Mojang, which is based in Stockholm, Sweden, has built an insanely popular game that is about breaking and placing blocks, kind of like an electronic version of Legos.
Players build structures and three-dimensional worlds full of imaginative things from dark caves to castles or roller coasters. Players download the game to a PC, Xbox, PlayStation, or mobile device. The iOS version costs $6.99, and the Windows, Mac and Linux versions cost $26.95.
The size of the fan base is at a scale that few companies can fathom. Microsoft will have its hands full trying to keep everyone happy.
“This is just horrible,” wrote Minecraft player Jeremy Saklad on a Mojang forum. “I can’t believe Mojang would betray the community like this….While it won’t restrict the platform support, Microsoft will definitely try to prioritize their own devices and lace their inferior services into the game. I hope this deal is reversible, because it is a nightmare.”
Managing its size is something that the game’s own creator, Markus “Notch” Persson even struggled with, which is one reason he will be exiting the company.
“I’ve become a symbol. I don’t want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don’t understand, that I don’t want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I’m not an entrepreneur. I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter,” he wrote in a farewell note.
In perhaps its first token of appreciation, Microsoft Xbox head Phil Spencer said today that MineCon, the company’s annual convention will live on. Two years ago, more than 7,500 people attended in Orlando, Fla., up from just 50 in Bellevue, Wash. in 2010. This year, the conference didn’t happen for unclear reasons.
“We’re excited to confirm that MINECON will continue next year. We’ll look to create even more ways for the vibrant community of YouTuber’s, innovators, bloggers and players to connect with each other – both in person and online. We will have much more to share in the coming months,” Spencer said.
Microsoft tried in other ways today to placate players, like pledging to continue making Minecraft available across platforms – including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC.
“Minecraft is one of the most popular franchises of all time,” said Spencer, in a statement. “We are going to maintain Minecraft and its community in all the ways people love today, with a commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future.”
Mojang hesitated when it came to making broad promises.
“There’s no reason for the development, sales, and support of the PC/Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Vita, iOS, and Android versions of Minecraft to stop,” the company wrote, in a press release. “Of course, Microsoft can’t make decisions for other companies or predict the choices that they might make in the future.”
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO chimed in on the matter, too.
“Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft.”