Why Microsoft might be the best thing that ever happened to Minecraft

minecraftMicrosoft’s $2.5 billion purchase of Minecraft maker Mojang might read like another “corporate behemoth swallows a beloved indie” story, but in reality this could be the best thing that ever happened to the game.

The inevitable snarky reactions on Twitter called out the deal as yet another reason to hate on Microsoft. While those might be valid points when it comes to some of Redmond’s more egregious enterprise software tactics, there’s simply no reason for worrying about the fate of Minecraft. When it comes to gaming acquisitions, Microsoft has shown itself to be anything but a harsh master.

Mojang co-founder Markus “Notch” Persson’s open letter about leaving the company in the wake of the sale might sound like sour grapes coming from anyone else, but it conveys a profound sense of relief from the controversy-shy game developer.

“I love you. All of you,” writes Persson. “Thank you for turning Minecraft into what it has become, but there are too many of you, and I can’t be responsible for something this big. In one sense, it belongs to Microsoft now. In a much bigger sense, it’s belonged to all of you for a long time, and that will never change.”

Minecraft has more than 100 million subscribers, making it the biggest success in recent gaming history. Ask any kid or gaming adult about it, and chances are you’ll get an earful. It started in 2010 as a beta available to geeks in the know, came onto the scene for PC and Mac in November 2011, and then exploded onto every major platform imaginable — Xbox, PlayStation, iOS and Android.

It’s exactly the kind of smash hit that could bolster Microsoft’s credibility with a generation that never used Word.

Say what you will about Bill Gates’ technology giant, but Microsoft’s Xbox division has always been successful. The company’s previous acquisitions, like Lionhead Studios (maker of the Fable series of games) and Rare (the folks behind the Viva Piñata games), have done pretty well. Heck, an early purchase, Bungie — after developing several highly successful Halo games — grew too big for the Microsoft family and eventually parted ways as a much bigger, much more successful game studio. They’ve just released Destiny to wide critical and consumer acclaim.

In the two years Minecraft has been on Xbox Live alone, players have racked up more than 2 billion hours of mining and crafting on Microsoft’s gaming platform. As Xbox head Phil Spencer says, “We’ve long seen the incredible potential of Minecraft.”

Full story @ Cult of Mac

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