Microsoft looks close to buying Minecraft developer Mojang AB for a deal reported to be valued at more than $2 billion.
The Wall Street Journal reports a “person with knowledge of the matter” confirmed the deal could be signed as early as this week.
Mojang is a Swedish company that has sold over 50 million copies of Minecraft, the Lego-style video game where players build blocky structures. Its profit was over $US100 million last year, as it’s also been generating sales in licensing deals with Lego and Warner Bros. Pictures, the WSJ said.
Mojang’s 35-year-old founder Markus Persson is often reported as being dismissive of outside investment, but for the most part, it’s all noise.
Persson chose Microsoft’s Xbox 360 as the first console port of the game way back in May, 2012, and it didn’t make it across to the Playstation 3 until December the following year.
Earlier this year, he dismissed any thought of an Oculus Rift version, claiming he was upset with its acquisition by Facebook, but recently changed his mind, saying he was more concerned about a hole in his favourite sock.
If the deal happens, it would be Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s first multi-billion dollar acquisition since taking the lead role of the company in February.
It’s also a somewhat unexpected move, since Nadella has been saying Microsoft would become a “productivity and platforms” company.
Microsoft does have a huge video games business that includes Xbox consoles, but its $US6.7 billion sales last year was just 8% of Microsoft’s total revenue.
But the WSJ argues that the Mojang acquisition could give Microsoft access to “a new generation of people,” a market segment that it hasn’t really been able to tap into.
It also noted that Minecraft is one of the top five most-downloaded paid apps on both Apple and Google’s app stores, and has attracted billions of viewers on the online game streaming site, Twitch.
If you’re not familiar with the game, building in Minecraft is easy. You get tools, like shovels and axes, to chop down trees and cut through stone. And without a time limit or a place to go, some players have taken their creative freedom to the next level.
Here’s some of the most celebrated examples:
The attention to detail in the Taj Mahal is insane, from the water in the front, to the bushes surrounding the palace.
It took this player two weeks to build the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral. He says that he didn't mine for the items himself -- he kind of cheated -- because otherwise it would have taken him way longer.
The Golden City isn't based on anything in reality, but it does show just how creative people can get in the game. Note the flying airship!
Of course players decided to try their hand at building Winterfell from the HBO show 'Game of Thrones.' But it doesn't stop there: The team that built Winterfell is dedicated to re-creating the entire universe from the first 'Game of Thrones' book.
Creations don't even have to be buildings. Here, someone built a statue of Atlas. But more than in-game tools are needed to build structures such as this one. That's where downloads like texture packs and mods come in. The person who built this said it took a few months and a small team of people to complete.
And creations don't even have to be three-dimensional. Here, someone took their love of Nintendo and mashed it together with their 'Minecraft' skills to create Link from the 'Zelda' games.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film 'Beetlejuice,' this person built a 'Beetlejuice'-themed roller coaster in the game. Sound intense? That's because it is. Check out the video below.
(video provider='youtube' id='afcudstM9zA' size='xlarge' align='center')
This replica of the Empire State Building used 100,965 blocks! There are plenty of tutorials and blueprints out there so you can build your own version of this building, and many others.
Why stop at the Empire State Building when you can make a replica of all of Manhattan? Computer science PhD student Christopher Mitchell is developing a 1:1 model of Manhattan inside Minecraft. It's unbelievably detailed.
While we're on the subject of icons, this person took on the challenge of building the Golden Gate Bridge.
And sometimes the creations aren't even on this planet. There's a whole section of the game devoted to 'Star Wars'-related builds. Here, a player built an At-At.
Creations don't have to stay on dry land. This player made a battleship. There are various other watercraft, and some of them even have working engines.
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