Rumors of a $2 billion Microsoft approach to gaming sensation Minecraft's creator Mojang has tech experts scratching their heads over the software giant's intentions. Ivor Bennett reports.
It's sold over 50 million copies in just 5 years. Minecraft is already the 3rd best selling computer game of all time. But rumours of a buyout have raised industry eyebrows, with Microsoft reportedly in line to pay over 2 billion dollars for the company behind it, Swedish firm Mojang. For gaming analyst Piers Harding-Rolls though, the deal makes perfect sense. SOUNDBITE (English) PIERS HARDING-ROLLS, HEAD OF GAMES RESEARCH, IHS TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "It's a game that is popular across many different screens and all those screens actually align quite strongly within the Microsoft devices and ecosystem strategy. So it's done very well on consoles, it has sold well in the mobile space and it's sold well in the PC space." As a franchise, Minecraft has massive potential. It's already been licensed into toys in a tie-up with Lego. There are books and educational versions, and Warner Brothers is even planning a movie. SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "The game's popularity is in part due to its retro graphics. Although dated, the block forms are very easy to understand and easy to translate into other platforms. The game's also very creative. You can build anything you want and every time you play the game, you have a different experience." Mojang is also hugely profitable. Last year generating 115 million dollars in profit from revenues of nearly 300 million. Much of Minecraft's following though stems from its independence. Rumours of a sell-out have prompted a fierce response from fans. SOUNDBITE (English) PIERS HARDING-ROLLS, HEAD OF GAMES RESEARCH, IHS TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "That's where the major challenge comes for Microsoft, is maintaining the spirit at Mojang and the spirit of Minecraft as a franchise. That sort of acquisition can get lost within a huge organisation like Microsoft." Neither Mojang nor Microsoft have commented on the rumours. If true though it would see Minecraft co-founder Markus Persson walk away with around 1.4 billion dollars. Not bad for a business that employs just 37 people.