Since my last post on this matter, I have read more about the potential sale and learned some new / clarifying information. According to Bloomberg, the deal was proposed by Notch – not by Microsoft – several years ago. As it turns out, Notch is not as invested in the community or game itself these days as he once was. Why?
If you have been following Minecraft (not just playing it) since its launch or even for the past couple of years, you may have noticed how much drama surrounds the game and its creator. Fans and foes alike tend to dole out hateful comments to Notch on a regular basis, with of course intermittent flare ups of all-out attacks.
This is something not uncommon with big name developers, but generally tends to be rare for smaller, independent studios. It happens when fans become too invested in their game and over-react to any change that they perceive will affect them in some significant way. Often, these changes will virtually have no effect on a player’s day-to-day activities.
Due to this, Notch has publicly grown increasingly detached from his creation. He is regularly quoted for a tweet made a few months ago (right around the time that negotiations for the sale began):
“Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life? Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.”
You can see the tweet itself here, and some of the aforementioned hateful comments.
As such, it would seem that he will not continue with Mojang after Microsoft has acquired it (if the deal goes through). The fate of the rest of the team is questionable at this point.
So when is this deal going down? As early as tomorrow (Monday, September 15th). Notch (according to Reuters) apparently negotiated an extra 500 million dollars for the deal. Just for fun, let’s crunch some more numbers:
A total of 52 million sold units over the course of Minecraft’s life (including console and mobile versions) equals approximately $1.4 billion. Throw in action figure, model, clothing, and toy sales, and it’s fair to say the game has been worth about $2 billion up until this point.
I have no idea how many employees work for Mojang, nor what Notch’s share of the company is, but for argument’s sake: 10% of this deal would be $250,000,000.
Notch is 35 years old this year (same birthday as me!) – assuming he lives an average lifespan of about 70 years, he could spend just over $7.1 million every year without ever working another day in his life. This is not taking into account how much money he has already made from Minecraft.
There are about 9.6 million people in Sweden, where Notch lives. He could almost afford to buy each person in Sweden a copy of Minecraft for the PC with 10% of the share.
$250,000,000 is enough money to provide almost 22,000 people (4,200 more than the estimated homeless population of Sweden) with a small apartment, food, utilities, and some fun money for a full year.
Remember, these figures are assuming that Notch only makes 10% off of this deal. As the original creator and one of the founders of Mojang, Notch’s share is likely to be much, much higher.
To continue from a thought in my last post: Microsoft’s reasons for wanting to buy Mojang (and thus Minecraft) have become more clear to me. Minecraft: Pocket Edition is currently available on Android and iOS devices, but not Windows phones – Notch has openly stated his distaste for Windows 8, and is publically not supportive of Microsoft (which is quite ironic).
As you may have guessed by the above information, Microsoft likely wants to port the game to its own mobile operating system. It will undoubtedly stay available for all other platforms, as they will remain a source of income for Microsoft (especially if they decide to monetize the game somehow).
There was also probably some passive threat of Minecraft not continuing on the Microsoft lineage of operating systems, but with Microsoft in charge, they can effectively ensure that the game remains available to Windows users, thus preventing the spread of other competitor operating systems (i.e. the eventual inevitable takeover of Unix-based systems). Furthermore, Microsoft can brand Minecraft for itself – with many millions of players logging on to Minecraft for multiple hours each day, this is a fantastic advertising opportunity.
Here is what I expect to change in the near future, should this deal close tomorrow:
Minecraft’s launcher will see a drastic overhaul, most likely with some form of advertisements on a sidebar.
In-game content will get a small boost as a show of good-faith to skeptical players.
Plans will be set in motion for a large scale update to the game due to the suddenly massive team availed to it.
The cost of the game itself will drop slightly.
Some long term changes I forsee:
Greatly increased production speed, though possibly at the cost of having to pay for expansion packs.
Less community interaction – i.e. the game will move in the direction that the company wants it to, with little or no input from the players themselves. Could end up being good or bad.
Player base will increase due to expanded marketing strategies, decreased initial cost of the game, and overall availability.
Many more toys and other merchandise will enter the market.
Ultimately, I am on the fence for this acquisition. It will bring some good and some bad, and the final outcome is entirely unclear. One thing is for sure – Microsoft has the money to keep Minecraft alive far longer than Mojang ever could without risking their own assets. The only question is: will they? Or will Minecraft head down the wrong path, taking on an entirely different and undesirable flavor as a consequence to losing its visionary?
Only time will tell. Stay tuned for updates – I will post significant information as it becomes available. Post your thoughts on the sale of Mojang in the comments below, as well as where you think the game is headed in the event that it is purchased.