Microsoft, maker of the Xbox video-game console, agreed to acquire Mojang AB, the software company behind the popular game Minecraft, for $2.5 billion (€1.9bn), in a bid to boost its Xbox and mobile businesses.
Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, said Mojang will join its game studio division, though the company’s founders will move on to other projects. The purchase is projected to be completed late this year, and will break even in fiscal 2015, the company said today in a statement.
Buying Mojang would be the biggest deal struck since Satya Nadella took over as Microsoft's chief executive officer in February, succeeding Steve Ballmer. The purchase gives him a game that is popular across consoles, computers and mobile devices made by Microsoft and rivals like Apple. It also bolsters a push to woo serious gamers back to Xbox after a lackluster attempt to turn the system into an all-in-one device that serves up broader content such as movies and music.
“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,” Nadella said in the statement.
Microsoft will continue to make Minecraft available across all software platforms, including PCs, Apple's iOS, Google Inc.'s Android and Sony Corp.'s Playstation console.
Since taking over as CEO, Nadella has been refocusing Microsoft’s efforts around software for mobile gadgets and the cloud, as the personal-computer market continues to slow. He’s advocated a strategy of making the company’s programs compatible with rival operating systems and devices, instead of just those based on Microsoft’s Windows.
Minecraft, a game that puts users inside a vast, pixelated virtual landscape, is made for multiple platforms including game consoles, PCs and smartphones. As of June, four-year-old Mojang had sold more than 54 million copies of the game in all its forms.