Since it launched in 2009, more than 100 million people have played Minecraft, no doubt in part because of its unstructured gameplay. It’s kind of like a digital Lego set: there are no actual goals for the player to accomplish, nor are there any plot lines or characters to follow. Players are essentially free to choose how to to play the game. Online, you can play with friends too, which can be made even better through the use of minecraft hosting server.
What seems simple in concept turns out to be much more complex in reality: player creations have ranged from the utterly geeky to the truly mind-blowing, and a thriving community has emerged as a result. Modding is also a popular component: one player even developed a mod that teaches children how to code.
There’s no denying that Minecraft is an incredibly innovative game that managed to fill a gap in the market back in 2009; it doesn’t look like it’s budging any time soon, either. The game’s success is demonstrated in many ways, including through professional minecraft server hosting available for anyone to further throw themselves into the successful game.
None of this was planned, by the way, which helps explain why all three of Mojang’s founders – most notably Minecraft developer Markus “Notch” Persson – are leaving the company.
Even so, Microsoft is charging ahead. In a blog post Monday announcing the purchase, Xbox head Phil Spencer explained that, “Minecraft adds diversity to our game portfolio and helps us reach new gamers across multiple platforms” while promising players “richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect with the Minecraft community” in the future. But with the founders leaving, can Minecraft retain its magic under the Microsoft umbrella? They might have a job to do to get the Xbox version to the same level of success than the PC version, but nevertheless the PC version of Minecraft will always retain a large player base across the many online servers as you can find on sites like Epic Minecraft Servers and other Minecraft server listings.
So far, observers are unsure about how to answer that question. As TechCrunch’s Josh Constine pointed out:
Buying a game company is like buying an aging baseball player. You’ll need a miracle to get another hit. And while they might have plenty of fans, they probably aren’t making a lot of new ones.
Consider the cases of one-hit-wonders like Zynga (FarmVille) and King (Candy Crush Saga), whose IPOs both started out strong before plummeting. Rovio, whose smash hit Angry Birds took the world by storm in 2009, saw a 52 percent decrease in profits in 2013. And then there’s the case of Dong Nguyen, whose sleeper hit Flappy Bird came out of nowhere last year but his followup creation, Swing Copters, tumbled down to No. 220 in the App Store.
That’s not to say Microsoft execs should be kicking themselves just yet. ZDNet’s Larry Dignan says the move was, at least strategically, a smart one:
Mojang gives Microsoft an asset and community that could cultivate a younger demographic. If you’ve ever seen an elementary school kid go into a Minecraft coma you know the power that Mojang has. To younger customers, Microsoft’s core brand is really Xbox. If Microsoft is going to have an installed base to up sell as these customers move to smartphones to tablets to PCs to enterprise applications and cloud Minecraft is a good place to start. Signs are promising too, with many people already looking for gaming headphones to use whilst playing on headphonage.com and other sites for use with the PC.
Meanwhile, Persson may actually stand to come out ahead on this deal. While Microsoft scrambles to maintain and replicate Minecraft’s success, Persson can pursue other projects without a giant pixelated axe hanging over his head. Like other entrepreneurs who work too much and get depressed, he never considered himself a video game developer anyway, and that in the end, “it’s not about the money, it’s about my sanity.”
Photo Credit: Javi G Ch via Flickr