Microsoft has acquired the Stockholm-based game developer Mojang and its acclaimed Minecraft franchise. The former company announced the $2.5 billion deal on Monday, saying the acquisition will become official in late 2014.
Microsoft promises that their cloud and mobile capabilities will allow players to “benefit from richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools and more opportunities to connect across the Minecraft community.” But, as the Wall Street Journal reports, Mojang’s founders – Jakob Porser, CEO Carl Manneh and Swedish programmer Markus Persson, the latter of whom launched Minecraft in 2009 – won’t be involved with the franchise’s future direction.
“I don’t see myself as a real game developer,” Persson wrote Monday in a statement on his personal website, saying the deal was about his “sanity” and “not about the money.”
“I make games because it’s fun, and because I love games and I love to program, but I don’t make games with the intention of them becoming huge hits, and I don’t try to change the world,” he wrote. “Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. . . In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.”
Persson said that when the deal is finalized, he plans to leave the company and “go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments.” “If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction,” he wrote, “I’ll probably abandon it immediately.”
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Under Persson’s guiding hand, the game – which allows users to build constructions using cubes in a 3-D environment – eschewed traditional big company backing in favor of an independent development, becoming one of the most successful video games in history. According to Microsoft, Xbox 360 users have logged over 2 billion hours played in the last two years, with 100 million downloads for the PC version since 2009.
In their statement, Microsoft says the company will continue to make the game available across all of its current platforms: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.