Minecraft Maker Mojang Joins Microsoft

The rumors were true. Microsoft announced on September 15, that they have agreed to acquire Mojang, the makers of Minecraft. Mojang, based in Sweden, announced that the founders Notch, Carl and Jakob will be leaving as part of this acquisition.

This acquisition has naturally created a lot of noise because on the one hand, many fear that Microsoft will ruin the company and in the worst case scenario, pull the cross-platform nature of Minecraft and make it Windows-only. On the other, there are saner minds who have spelled out that, if done right, this would be a good bet for Microsoft to invest into the next generation of makers and therefore, potential developers.

Minecraft, for those who are not aware, is an online game very popular among kids, where players build environments much like using LEGO to build structures and things. There is a level of interactivity because of the online nature of the game, so for example, cousins across the world could be building stuff together. There is no limit to what you can build and there have been crazy examples of stuff built in Minecraft including an actual functioning hard drive!

The company is profitable, and Microsoft expects to be net positive for the deal by FY 2015. For Microsoft, since Mojang is based in Sweden, it helps them use some of the offshore cash which they would not have brought back to the US anyway, due to tax liabilities.

Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, has made it clear that nothing is planned to change. MINECON, the Minecraft conference will continue as planned. Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, said they are looking forward to the new opportunity this will bring to 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.”

Notch, the nickname of Markus Persson who created the game, said he is leaving Mojang because he could not handle the company now that it has become such a massive, global initiative. He wants to focus on software development and given the close working relationship he formed with Microsoft in the process of bringing Minecraft to Xbox, he thought it was best that Microsoft continues supporting and investing in Mojang.

It will be interesting to see how Microsoft handles the obviously different culture that Mojang brings. We have seen them handle Yammer and Skype, both companies with a similar potential culture clash problem, by keeping them independent. Game makers are perhaps one step farther in terms of having a non-corporate culture, so besides keeping them independent, it will be important to see how the company is nurtured.

What are your thoughts? Crazy move for Microsoft? Crazy move for Mojang? Or mutually beneficial to both?

 

 

Notch: Minecraft Is The Best-Selling XBLA Game Ever

With Minecraft quickly proving itself to be a largely popular game on the computer, the news that broke yesterday should come as no surprise: Minecraft creator and Mojang founder Notch proudly tweeted that in under a month, Minecraft became the best-selling game ever on XBLA (Xbox Live Arcade, a service that offers an array of game titles through digital distribution). Mojang employee Daniel Kaplan followed up in another tweet saying that 2 million copies have been sold.

The title is no stranger to relatively awesome milestones, though; Minecraft on Xbox 360 was the fastest-selling XBLA game ever, selling more than any other title within the first 24 hours on XBLA. There were over 400,000 people playing already at that time. And on May 14th, Major Nelson amended his post with an update stating that Minecraft has sold over 1 million copies worldwide in just under a week of availability. Also, as of May 14th — almost a month ago — a total of 5.2 million online hours, 4 million multiplayer sessions, and 2.4 million total multiplayer gaming hours were already clocked across all users. Crazy.

Now, bear in mind that the Xbox 360 version of the game is relatively lacking in features compared to its PC counterpart. Enchantments, the ability to connect to popular PC servers, and other key parts of Minecraft have not been implemented in the XBLA version just yet. However, even a more minimal and barebones version of Minecraft is awesome, so it’s not a surprise that people are still purchasing the console version of the game despite these existing “drawbacks”.

I don’t think that the traction surrounding Minecraft will stop anytime soon (not before Notch launches 0x10c, at least.)

Introducing 0x10c, A New MMO Being Developed By Minecraft Creator Notch

Minecraft creator Notch’s new space faring Massively Multiplayer Online game called 0x10c has an ominous backstory of a doomed people waking up after billions of years of cryogenic sleep in a universe that is slowly dimming:-

In a parallel universe where the space race never ended, space travel was gaining popularity amongst corporations and rich individuals.

In 1988, a brand new deep sleep cell was released, compatible with all popular 16 bit computers. Unfortunately, it used big endian, whereas the DCPU-16 specifications called for little endian. This led to a severe bug in the included drivers, causing a requested sleep of 0x0000 0000 0000 0001 years to last for 0x0001 0000 0000 0000 years.

It’s now the year 281 474 976 712 644 AD, and the first lost people are starting to wake up to a universe on the brink of extinction, with all remote galaxies forever lost to red shift, star formation long since ended, and massive black holes dominating the galaxy.

That is definitely a lot of information to digest, but I am guessing Markus Persson (Notch) wanted it that way, since it is a hard science fiction (read: as grounded in plausible engineering and science as it is possible) video game with a player controlled ship that is guided by a player controlled and software emulated 16-bit CPU. That is correct, you are a space farer on a ship that is controller by a computer from the ‘80s, that you have to program on the fly to work in deep space. Sounds like fun? We bet!

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The website for 0x10c mentions a lot features such as a fully working computer system, lots of engineering and knowledge-based game play and, of course, lots of space loot! The documentation for the working computer system has been released. There is also an unofficial FAQs available that answers a ton of questions!

Notch also mentions that this will be a game that features a monthly fee; probably not as much as the mainstream MMOs like EVE: Online or World of Warcraft, but is a sufficiently significant step in the annals of indie gaming history.

Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition Launching May 9

Earlier this week, we reported that Microsoft was going to announce the release date for the much-anticipated release of Minecraft on the Xbox 360. Aptly dubbed Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition, the game will debut on May 9th as part of a promotion called Arcade NEXT, during which a new downloadable Xbox LIVE Arcade title will launch every Wednesday from April 18th through May 9th.

Trials Evolution, Bloodforge, and Fable Heroes are the other three titles launching as part of the promotion. Each game will be available for 1200 Microsoft Points, 1200 Microsoft Points, and 800 Microsoft points, respectively. Minecraft will be the most expensive of the four, priced at 1600 Microsoft Points (which is actually relatively cheap in the gaming world; in dollars, 1600 Microsoft Points is $20).

Adapted to the console, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition will feature split-screen multiplayer support, a new crafting interface that’s tailored for console/controller gameplay, a Tutorial mode, and Xbox LIVE multiplayer support. We were hearing earlier that Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition will be featuring some sort of cross-platform functionality, allowing Xbox players to play with PC players; this functionality is yet to be detailed, but it should be exciting to see how it is implemented.

Here’s a promotional trailer showing off the games that will launch as part of this promo:

Microsoft To Announce Minecraft For Xbox 360 Release Date Tomorrow

While we’ve known for some time that Minecraft for Xbox will be launching sometime this year, no official release date has been released by either Mojang or Microsoft. That will all change tomorrow, however, as Microsoft will be announcing the release date of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. Aptly named to differentiate it from the PC version, we know little about it apart from what was announced at E3 last year: There will be some Kinect functionality, and there would be some sort of cross-functionality between the Xbox 360 console version and the PC.

It will be interesting to see how this cross-platform functionality will be implemented. Will there be a specific server setting, or server type that is open to both Xbox 360 and PC players? How will communication work? Surely they’d have to implement voice chat as most Xbox gamers won’t have a keyboard. I’m sure that these concerns will be resolved with the release though; if they’re selling the game on the Xbox with any kind of multiplayer functionality, I don’t think people would be too happy if they can’t play with friends on the PC.

PlayXBLA, the Microsoft blog that’s tailored towards Xbox Live Arcade games will be publishing the release date first. And to celebrate the launch, they will also be giving away two custom Minecraft-styled Xboxes.

If the Xbox version of the game really is fully-functional with cross-functionality, perhaps I may bring my Minecraft escapades to the big screen.

Scaled Down Middle-Earth in Minecraft

Considering the percentage of my posts devoted to Minecraft, I think it would be safe to make an entire subdomain for the game on this blog. The game requires hardly an introduction these days, but Electronic Legosuffices for now. The yet-to-be-released (yes it’s still in beta) indie masterpiece has had everything from a 1:1 model of the USS Enterprise to a 96-pixel working television inside the game. header Now the good folks at Minecraft Middle Earth have been busily creating the entire world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings within the environs of Minecraft. They have also done this without using any plugin or third-party creation tools. That’s right, this entire project was done by a bunch of people using their mice to mine away and place each block individually. As a reference they used a very accurate ~80MB atlas of Tolkien’s world (available here). It is unbelievably gorgeous and I do not know exactly where to being describing the sheer beauty of the entire server. You can also help out with the creation of the world (it is an ongoing project) by joining them. Now for the clincher their forty-five minute walkthrough of the entire world that is just beginning to reach its limits.

Minecraft Mods Get Finalized

The community behind hit indie game Minecraft is what makes it so great. While some players of Minecraft are drawn to the incredible easy yet deep gameplay, others are also drawn in by how easy it is to edit the game’s code and create new and extremely cool things for the game. These are called Mods short for Modifications. Throughout its life, Minecraft has had countless mods made for its source and some of them have been integrated into the original game, with Mojang paying a royalty to the mod-maker.

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However, the current model of mods did not have any kind of protection against malicious code. In effect, layperson players who do not understand code will be at a loss if they implemented a mod and found that it was malicious especially since the game needs an internet connection to verify your credentials.

For the longest time, there was this mod situationthat Notch had to rectify. A day ago he posted an entire proposal on his tumbr, with a plan for a small feefor signing up as a mod developer (which guarantees a certificate of authenticity from Mojang). However the Great Connected Hivemind (also known in various other cultures as the Internet) convinced him to remove the fee for signing up as a mod developer. While we personally think that Notch should not bow to the internet’s wishes so easily we also understand that it was the community that made him what he is today. Either way, it’s good to see great approvedmods coming the Minecraft way!

Minecraft Sells 2 Million Copies

Ah Minecraft. We never cease to report about the darling of the indie movement, do we? There have been many successes from the incredibly simple game that has taken the world by storm, and I am pretty sure that there will be no end to the brilliance of its players that shines through in the internet. With the release of the Minecraft Beta 1.5, the game is inching towards completion, but there is still a lot of work to do before the game is completed.

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Two million satisfied customers? I’m pretty sure. The thing is, the game cannot be defined or reviewed very easily. There has been debate after debate on Quora and other less-web2.0-y parts of the internet on what exactly is the thrill or joy in playing Minecraft, which at most gives cheap thrills during in-game night time with the monsters. For my part, I can attest to the fact that the game (it is a game, even though it has no set achievable goals per se) pulls you in with its deceptively simple nature (punch trees to get wood and so on) and then surprises you with its depth (such as Redstone electricity, huge area to mine in etc.). The fact that such a horde of people on the internet find it alluring is reason enough for some to at least try it, while for others it is the fact that the game easily lets you forget the world outside and return to your childhood with electronic Lego is the charm.

Whatever the case, Minecraft is on a steady rise on the course of world domination.

Minecraft Merch Store is Up and Running

So when Notch was talking about a Minecraft franchise, he absolutely was not kidding. The first step of this franchise is to start your own merchandise store as opposed to letting other people mint money with your game’s designs. (Kidding everybody loves the diverse collection of Minecraft tees). Mojang Specifications have opened up their merch store on J!NX and are already taking orders on the different kinds of t-shirts up for order.

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The best part about this entire merch store? The t-shirts (especially this one) is in tune with pop culture on the internet (albeit slightly late); seeing a Three Wolf t-shirt parodied by a Three Creeper t-shirt is hilarious. For those that did not understand that the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt is a pretty normal t-shirt featuring three wolves howling at the moon. What is hilarious is that it attracted ironic reviews on Amazon such as:-

Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women

Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the ‘guns’), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.

This review by Brian Govern sparked off an insider joke that not only resulted in hilarious Amazon reviews, but also great sales for the t-shirt since it became an internet phenomenon. A Creeper is the name given to the most irritating monster on Minecraft that follows you and when it comes near you, it hisses like a dynamite fuse and explodes killing you in the process.

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So which t-shirt will you be buying today, intrepid miner?

Minecraft Franchise Forthcoming?

Minecraft is going places; its developers are working on mobile versions and now creator Markus Persson (aka Notch) says that in the future console versions with trophies and achievements will be developed. All this before the real game has officially been released. He also says that he is surprised (O RLY, Notch?) at the amount of interest his game has sustained even after the price increase (or, should we say decreased discount on the original price) when the game shifted from the alpha version to the beta version.

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The Java based sandbox game has developed such a huge following online. Many such Minecraft communities have put their minds together to develop mods (changing the game’s source code to allow for new kinds of gameplay a shortening of the word modification) and texture packs (skins) for the game’s graphics. Persson, who is quite delighted with the creativity of these mods, one day hopes that his game’s modding community achieves the prominence of the Half-Life 2 modding scene that is quite popular.

Console games, on the other hand, have specific achievementsor trophies(badges for doing certain things within the game that allow for bragging rights). Persson likes achievements. So much so that he believes that in the future he might work on an Xbox version with trophies and some specific goals within the game. In an interview with Gamasutra he says that achievements can serve the dual purpose of being badges of accomplishments as well as goals towards which players work:-

Well, it could converge into a big task, like kill a dragon or something, which would put a kind of narrative into the achievement tree.

With all these elements at work, it would be hard to ignore the force of Minecraft as a franchise on the PC as well as the consoles.