What the BLOCK? Microsoft to gobble Minecraft-maker 'for $2bn'

Apple cooks up a watch: Redmond to buy a universe

Denmark Minecraft map

New Microsoft boss Satya Nadella has set his sights on Minecraft maker Mojang as his first major acquisition, according to whispers.

The move is probably worth the rumoured $2bn price tag in “woah” value alone, since it's practically the only thing that could have diverted attention away from Apple's iStuff launch on Tuesday. Mojang, founded in 2009, banked a $114.8m profit in 2013 off $290m in sales.

According to the WSJ, the acquisition could be completed as early as this week.

The Journal reckons Microsoft hopes Mojang, once gobbled by Redmond, will help drag more youngsters in front of the Xbox; surveys generally put the median age of the console's gamers in the twenties to thirties bracket, and Minecraft is seen as a game for for all ages. But Minecraft is already available for Xbox, as well as Playstation, handhelds and its PC home.

Since 2012, the Xbox version has grown to a third of Mojang's revenue, the newspaper states. Both Apple's and Google's app stores rank Minecraft as a top-five download, and it's also a hit among gameplay-watchers on YouTube and Twitch.

A deal would, however, be at odds with founder Markus “Notch” Persson, who in the past has been a critic of Microsoft, along with other large firms: when Facebook bought Oculus, Notch killed off his Minecraft project for the Rift virtual-reality headset, saying “I don't want to work with social, I want to work with games.”

In August, Notch softened his stance on The Social Network.

Since its launch, Minecraft has gone far beyond mere games: both the UK and Denmark have recreated their countries as Minecraft worlds; it's been used to demonstrate quantum mechanics, and a fan has used Minecraft components to create a virtual hard drive in the game. ®


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