The Wall Street Journal reported, “according to a person with knowledge of the matter,” that Microsoft is in serious discussions to buy Mojang AB, the Swedish developer of the hit Minecraft game, for more than $2 billion. “A Microsoft spokesman declined comment, as did Mojang Chief Executive Carl Manneh,” said the report.

This would be a surprising turn of events, as Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson has been outspoken in his opinions about large companies (he’s not a fan) and he has shunned outside investment and other buyout offers. Many within the games industry and the games press have reacted with surprise at the possibility of Microsoft acquiring Mojang, not least because Persson has been openly critical of the company in the past. However, Bloomberg’s sources have claimed that Persson actually proposed the deal in the first place, largely due to a “positive working relationship” and a “close relationship” with Xbox boss Phil Spencer. According to Bloomberg, Persson will remain at Mojang to see the deal and subsequent merger through to completion, but will likely depart once that has happened.

Minecraft has sold more than 54 million copies on multiple platforms, including Windows PC, iOS, Android, Xbox 360 and PS3. New versions are coming soon for Xbox One, PS4 and PS Vita as well.

The reasons for the purchase aren’t really clear, at least from Microsoft’s side (who can argue with getting $2 billion for a company you created ). Certainly, 54 million fans (mostly kids) is a nice audience to have, but is that really worth $40 for each one Mojang has shown no ability to create a second game with anywhere near the appeal of Minecraft. The company is a one trick pony; it’s a very nice trick, but it’s still only one trick. If Microsoft is interested in expanding its gaming audience, there are plenty of small developers with a track record of multiple solid games that could be had for tens of millions of dollars, not billions of dollars.

A $2 billion investment would seem to require a strong strategic reason, and that’s not at all clear here. Even with Minecraft’s solid sales, paying back that investment would take a very, very long time. We’ll just have to wait and see what develops, though the fact that both companies declined to comment would indicate there is something going on between the two. What does Microsoft have up its sleeve

Source: The Wall Street Journal