Microsoft is in its final stages of purchasing Mojang, the Swedish developer with 100 million players in its open world Minecraft game. The purpose of the move is to pull users to the company’s mobile platform instead of its better known PC system or Xbox game console.
Windows Phone constitutes only 2.5% of the world smartphone market. Its Surface tablet range also is just afloat and its growth has been hampered since most game developers ignore it. Enter Minecraft, which is the highest paid app both on Apple Inc’s iOS and Google Inc’s Android systems. Microsoft is expected to unveil a $2.5 billion deal on Monday.
Dave Bisceglia, Chief Executive of independent game studio Tap Lab said, “It seems like Microsoft is looking at Mojang and Minecraft as a way to tap into this enormous cultural phenomenon. If you look at iOS, Minecraft has been a top-grossing game for quite some time, if Microsoft could on Windows phones give players a unique and compelling experience that you can’t get on the other platforms that could be a driver to sell devices to existing Minecraft fans.”
Microsoft has not disclosed the actual number of Windows Phone users and has also declined to comment on the deal.
Minecraft was introduced as a PC game but after 54 million copies, downloads onto phones and tablets accounts for 40% of the copies. It was beyond Mojong and its 40 strong team would be able to design a Windows Phone version of Minecraft.
The creator of Minecraft Markus Persson, had pretty caustic comments for Windows phones and termed them as insignificant players in the market. When he was asked why they never developed mobile versions of the games for Windows Phone, he described Windows Phone sales as tiny and not worth developing for.
Microsoft is expected shell out close to $2.5 billion for Mojang. Microsoft has $86 billion in cash and short-term investments and the $2.5 billion will not affect its coffers much.