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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Opinion: Will Minecraft fall apart under Microsoft?

By on 3:28 PM

The Wall Street Journal published a report late yesterday that claims Microsoft is currently in talks with Mojang, the creators of Minecraft, to purchase the company for over $2 billion. This isn’t the first time Microsoft has been in talks with acquiring a big-name games development studio, although given its track history, it may not be in the best interest of Minecraft fans.
One of Microsoft’s most notable acquisitions was of Rare in 2002. It went south fast. Prior to its acquisition, Rare created a number of memorable titles including the Banjo-Kazooie series, Donkey Kong Country, Killer Instinct, and Perfect Dark, to name a few. After Rare was acquired by Microsoft, the development studio hasn’t made even close as an impact as it did prior to it as games like Kameo: Elements of Power, Perfect Dark Zero and Viva Piñata didn’t live up to the studios’ amazing reputation. And let’s not even get into the Kinect Sports series.
On the other hand, Microsoft’s acquisition of Lionhead Studios has gone favorably for the studio. Prior to their acquisition, the studio was known primarily for its Black & White, Fable, and The Movies series of games. After Lionhead was acquired, Microsoft had them working exclusively on Fable-related games, many of which have received favorable reviews throughout the years.
With those two studio acquisition examples, it’s difficult to say how Microsoft will treat Mojang after it’s acquired. On one hand, it could give the studio the support it needs to make Minecraft an even better product, which judging by its current success would likely be enough to take over the entire gaming landscape. On the other hand, Microsoft could acquire the studio and its properties and either have Mojang work on Minecraft exclusively for Microsoft platforms or have another developer work on the title, leaving Mojang to work on other projects.
The danger is if Microsoft is just looking to acquire the Minecraft and Mojang name. That would make it akin to the Rare acquisition, as Mojang has been steadily gaining popularity over the past few years as they developed Minecraft for platforms outside of PC. The company probably saw just how well received the company's announcement of Minecraft coming to Xbox One back in E3 2013, and the higher-ups know they'll own a product everyone will want to have. Whether or not it'll sell consoles for Microsoft is left to be seen. Paying hundreds of dollars for a Minecraft-playing console probably doesn't seem like a viable option considering how much more popular the game is on PC.
Either way, Microsoft acquiring Mojang would make pretty big waves in the gaming world. Let's just hope they're looking to acquire the studio for the benefit of its fans as much as to benefit of the company.


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