Some things are so difficult to believe that it’s necessary to put the source right in the headline. Microsoft being in talks to buy Mojang is one of them. According to a Wall Street Journal article published today, Microsoft is dipping into its vast supply of money-hats to acquire the Minecraft studio. While the WSJ believes it has solid information to the point that they’re willing to put their name on an article making this claim, it doesn’t add up for a lot of reasons.
1) Markus (notch) Persson is highly independent. He’s said in the past that, if Mojang stopped making another cent starting right this very second, the company would be comfortably funded for the next 20 years. As noted in the WSJ article, his attitude towards remaining an independent studio (despite not considering Mojang an actual “indie” any more) is very well documented.
2) The horse is already out of the Minecraft barn, in regards to any kind of exclusivity. Microsoft would own a studio publishing on Sony, PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and of course all things Xbox. The advantage of owning Mojang seems limited, at best. Obviously, if there’s plans for a Minecraft 2, this point become significantly less relevant.
3) The price tag is reputed to be over two billion. That’s a $2 followed by 000,000,000,000. That’s a lot of zeroes for a game that’s got to be close to reaching cultural saturation. Again, though, if Microsoft want to do Minecraft 2 then that’s less of a concern.
Still, there’s a couple of good possible reasons Mojang could end up for sale, assuming the buyer had deep enough pockets, but they’d involve pretending to be notch’s psychoanalyst and I’d rather not do that. The only one worth mentioning is that, just maybe, he might figure it’s time to start doing something else. There will be plenty of fallout over the next day or two over this event, and it’s probably best to wait for actual information rather than speculate.
–Update– Looks like Bloomberg has more of the story. Apparently notch approached Microsoft about the sale and they’ve been hammering out the details for “a few months”. notch will stay on for the transition and most likely leave when the sale is complete. All of this information is from unnamed people on the Microsoft side of the transaction, though, and notch’s side of the story is still unknown. Probably not for long, though, so we hope to have more soon.