One minute it was just a crazy rumor, and next thing you know Microsoft had purchased the breakthrough online gaming sensation Minecraft for $2.5 billion dollars.
The motivation behind such a move is a no-brainer: Microsoft has long been viewed as the clinically un-hip fossil of the silicon valley gang, struggling to compete against the slick and cool Apple and Google. With its purchase of Minecraft, it is not just buying any old video gaming company, it is trying to buy the heart of a whole generation of youngsters who live and breathe this game. If you’ve got kids, or nephews and nieces, you know that if they’re not playing Minecraft, they’re watching YouTube videos of other people playing Minecraft.
And it’s not just about the staggering size of Minecraft’s fan base (which adds up to about 100 million across all platforms) , it’s also about their passion and devotion. There are entire sub-communities based on the seemingly infinite number of “mods” the game can contain. One person has even managed to build a working 16 bit computer within the Minecraft universe.
Others are using it to create art, to program educational “mods” to be used in schools, and to bring people together for specialized Minecraft conventions.
More than a brand boost
While attaching itself to the most transformative game of the last decade can definitely do wonders for Microsoft’s brand image, the purchase also has more immediate financial advantages.
Having bought up the parent company, Microsoft may now consider making the game, which so far has been available on iOS and Android as well as PCs, exclusive to Windows 8, meaning that Minecraft would eventually only be available on Microsoft powered devices, including PCs, phones and tablets, and the Xbox 360. Potentially, considering the loyalty of Minecraft fans, such a decision could almost instantly make 100 million Android and iOS users switch over to Microsoft. And with Microsoft planning to phase out the Nokia and Windows Phone brand names, it could just be the fresh start the company has been waiting for.
Of course, the backlash is inevitable. Many fans are already feeling betrayed by Minecraft’s founder Markus Persson, who has, in their eyes, “sold out to the man”. They see the purchase as a danger to the disruptive and open nature of the game, and rightly so.
Persson himself once tweeted: ““Got an email from Microsoft, wanting to help ‘certify’ Minecraft for win 8. I told them to stop trying to ruin the PC as an open platform.” But that was 2 years ago, and today Persson is over the moon about his early retirement, while Microsoft holds the future of Minecraft in its hands.
For now, the fans are sure to follow, but if Microsoft’s “ownership” of the game becomes more felt, the company may have a rebellion to deal with. Still, the planting of its brand name in the soil of the younger generation is sure to bear fruit in the long run.
Article Written By: Abby Tsype