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?



Mojang Starts the Humble Mojam Bundle–All Proceeds to Charity!

We all know of the Humble Indie Bundle by this time, I’m sure. It’s a pay-what-you-want bundle of indie games with proceeds going to the developers, charity or the organizers of the bundle – Wolfire. However, this time the developer team behind Minecraft and Scrolls – Mojang Specifications – has put up an entirely new kind of pay what you want sale for a game that will be made over the weekend. That is right, you will be paying (whatever you want) for a game called Mojam that will be made right before your eyes (did I tell you that the making of the game will be livestreamed? Yes it will be). The best part? All proceeds from this sale will go to charity and non-profit organizations.


The indie studio Mojang will be livestreaming all the glory and drama of making a brand new game in 60 hours. Based on a poll of more than 100,000 users, Mojang is tackling a real-time strategy shoot ’em up with a steampunk ancient Egypt theme!

The participating organizations for this one-of-a-kind sale are the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Child’s Play Charity, the American Red Cross and for the first time, Charity: Water. This excellent venture has already received about $97,000 plus at the time of writing. It would be fun to see it go past the 500,000 mark as the game starts taking shape.

Bethesda Softworks Sues Mojang Specifications Over “Scrolls”

Scrolls is an upcoming fantasy game from Mojang Specifications whose owner is Markus Minecraft NotchPersson. It is a strategy-action game where you use magical scrolls to fight and on the outset is similar to the fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering and its derivatives. The Elder Scrolls is a series of fantasy Role Playing Games (RPG) from Bethesda Softworks. Now that we have the required data, let us get down to business.


On the fifth of August, Notch received a fifteen page letter from a Swedish law firm that represented Bethesda claiming that Scrolls infringes on the trademark of The Elder Scrolls. Considering that Bethesda’s games have little to do with scrolls (the last game had demonic gates sprouting up everywhere and your job was to destroy them, more or less) this came as quite a shock to gamers as well as Notch. However, he took it with a pinch of salt:-

First of all, I love Bethesda. I assume this nonsense is partly just their lawyers being lawyers, and a result of trademark law being the way it is.

IGN has contacted Bethesda reps for more on this issue from their side, but there has not been a comment from their side yet.

For now, however, the internet has already come up with ways to trivialize the issue, like the advance copy of Skyrim that apparently does not work on the drive (hint: it’s a real scroll) or who Bethesda will be suing next.