Microsoft confirmed the rumours that have been circulating over the past week or so and announced that the company has bought Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. The sale was reportedly put into motion after Mojang and Microsoft’s collaboration in bringing Minecraft to the Xbox 360 in 2012, and though it includes all of the developers assets, it is assumed to be based primarily around the hyper-successful cultural phenomenon that the creative sandbox game has become, boasting over 100 million registered users as of February this year.
It’s not about the money, it’s about my sanity – Markus ‘Notch’ Persson
This deal will see the departure of creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, as well as his two fellow Mojang co-founders. While the sale is expected to profit him to the tune of $1.7 billion, he has stated that ‘it’s not about the money, it’s about my sanity’. The continuing growth of Minecraft has apparently led to vast amounts of pressure being placed upon the Mojang boss, who has shunned the importance placed on him as a figurehead of the indie development scene and is, in his own words, ‘a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter’.
Many have expressed concerns about the implications of this sale for cross-platform availability, especially in the current climate of ‘exclusivity wars’. However, both Microsoft and Mojang have assured players that they will have nothing to worry about and that the company ‘plans to continue to make Minecraft available across all the platforms on which it is available today’. However, Microsoft has an established reputation for tight-fistedness with its intellectual property, and it’s more than possible that other platforms will need to enter into some form of licensing or revenue-sharing agreement with the game’s new owners.
In any case, the sudden access to Microsoft’s vast reserves of money and experience could prove very beneficial to Minecraft’s development, and it will be interesting to see how this situation develops.
Notch is unavailable for comment but has made this farewell statement yesterday via his website;
[toggle title=”Notch – I’m Leaving Mojang”]
I don’t see myself as a real game developer. 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. Minecraft certainly became a huge hit, and people are telling me it’s changed games. I never meant for it to do either. It’s certainly flattering, and to gradually get thrust into some kind of public spotlight is interesting.
A relatively long time ago, I decided to step down from Minecraft development. Jens was the perfect person to take over leading it, and I wanted to try to do new things. At first, I failed by trying to make something big again, but since I decided to just stick to small prototypes and interesting challenges, I’ve had so much fun with work. I wasn’t exactly sure how I fit into Mojang where people did actual work, but since people said I was important for the culture, I stayed.
I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn’t understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn’t have the connection to my fans I thought I had. 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.
As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.
Considering the public image of me already is a bit skewed, I don’t expect to get away from negative comments by doing this, but at least now I won’t feel a responsibility to read them.
I’m aware this goes against a lot of what I’ve said in public. I have no good response to that. I’m also aware a lot of you were using me as a symbol of some perceived struggle. I’m not. I’m a person, and I’m right there struggling with you.
I love you. All of you. Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. 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.
It’s not about the money. It’s about my sanity.