Minecraft sale: a game changer?

minecraft_600x400_pegBy Alistair Madden

Mojang, the development company behind hit indie game Minecraft, has been sold to Microsoft for two and a half billion dollars.

Anyone who knows anything about games will have heard of Minecraft. The hit indie title has achieved unparalleled success, making one hundred million dollars last year alone.

Minecraft, now over five years old, consistently tops popular games lists. The game itself sees players shaping their own virtual world with nearly limitless possibilities – building, mining and crafting (whilst fending off monsters) being the core mechanics.

To many, the sale of this monster of a franchise to Microsoft is jarring. Minecraft has always been multi-platform and highly tweakable – a lot of content has been added to the game through so-called mods – and in a statement Mojang acknowledge this to be one of the cornerstones of the game.

Lead developer, Markus “Notch” Pearson, also revealed that the pressures of developing one of the largest franchises in gaming history was a core factor in selling the games studio.

A bigger question to ask, however, is why Microsoft would buy out Mojang for such a large sum of money on the back of the success of one game.

Microsoft itself has not hidden the fact that the deal would help shore up its position in the mobile market. But it is certainly interesting. With Minecraft already available on competitors’ platforms, the tech giant has vowed to “maintain Minecraft and its community in all the ways people love today.”

There is no way to know how the title will change, however it is clear that Microsoft has been enticed by the whole ecosystem, stating Minecraft to be “more than a great game franchise.”

This has pushed some to speculate that, because of the heavily networked user base and community, the game could be used as a tool to leverage some form of social media in Microsoft’s direction.

Another possibility enters my mind. To me, Minecraft is fun because you are placed in a world with very few rules and left to go nuts.

It’s true you can ‘beat’ Minecraft by digging a hole and hiding in it. For some people this pointlessness is enough to put them off. But I can see many parallels drawn with computer programming – just because it works doesn’t mean you can’t do it better.

Illustration: Mariam Hayat

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