Last week’s $2.5B purchase of Minecraft by Microsoft represents a huge investment not only in the number of zeroes added to the net worth of the 40 person team but also in in the game developer community as a whole.
Minecraft is a top tier gaming product on every platform it touches including XBox, Windows, Mac, PlayStation, iOS, and Android. The XBox 360 Edition of Minecraft has sold more than 12M copies and more than 16M have been sold for Windows/Mac. But the clear strategy behind Microsoft’s acquisition is the strong foothold Minecraft has on non-Microsoft platforms. On iOS it’s ranked #20 on Top Grossing Paid Apps with an estimated daily revenue of $61,701 by ThinkGaming. On Android, Minecraft Pocket Edition has racked up more than 10M downloads and holds the #1 spot for all paid apps. The XBox One edition has recently been released and a PS Vita version is in the works. This acquisition makes Microsoft Studios a major player in their own competitors top revenue generating category.
But this purchase has more than a few of the Minecraft game content creators worried that the acquisition of an indie startup by Software Incorporated will result in a loss of freedom and enforcement of copyright constraints that will limit what they can do.
I know a lot of people think Mojang hasn’t done the best job of updating Minecraft, but is that really worth potentially losing that loyalty to customers, their way of making a profit without being greedy about it? What if, in the future, we have to pay a monthly fee for permission to have a server? What if we have to pay Microsoft for permission to make mods? What if we’re threatened with copyright infringement if we use the Minecraft font in a Minecraft fan art commission drawing? – Chaostructure from MinecraftForum.net.
Others are taking a bit more of a wait and see mentality with hopes that Microsoft’s resources will bring new features and other advancements in a more timely fashion.
So from now on Minecraft is no longer an indiegame.
I just hope for the best, that Microsoft understands well enough how the game and the community has evolved together in freedom and creativity, and that messing with that is absolutely not a good idea… — RobertFrans on MincraftForum.net
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tried to assuage the concerns from members of the Minecraft community.
“Gaming is a top activity spanning devices, from PCs and consoles to tablets and mobile, with billions of hours spent each year,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft.” — Microsoft Press Release
This isn’t the first foray Microsoft has made into community gaming. Project Spark was announced during E3 in 2013 and has been somewhat quietly gaining steam since then. It now boasts over 30K “Worlds” created and a player base of more than 250K.
Project Spark Is a digital canvas which can be used to make games, movies and other experiences. A player can download other user-generated content, remix that content or create content of their own. A player can use the Xbox controller, keyboard and mouse, touch-devices, Kinect and SmartGlass to build experiences. Kinect can be used to animate models and record audio. The created environments can contain mountains, rivers, and towns. The player can also create events, like inter-character battles. Created items and objects are able to be shared with other players. — Wikipedia