After weeks of speculation, Microsoft has confirmed its deal to buy Swedish video game developer Mojang and its hugely popular game Minecraft for $2.5bn (£1.5bn).
Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, announced the deal in typical Silicon Valley style, with a video and accompanying note welcoming Minecraft and its “community that is among the most active and passionate in the world” to the Microsoft “family”.
Minecraft has had more than 100 million downloads on PC alone. The game has built up two billion hours of playtime through the Xbox 360 in the past two years.
Spencer said: “That working relationship set the ground work for other opportunities. We’ve long seen the incredible potential of Minecraft.”
The move is seen very much as enabling Microsoft to build a strong mobile presence, with Windows Phone taking only around 2.5 per cent of the smartphone market. Minecraft launched five years ago, originally as a PC game, but now around 40 per cent of games purchased are downloaded to phones and tablets.
“Gaming is the top activity across devices and we see great potential to continue to grow the Minecraft community and nurture the franchise. That is why we plan to continue to make Minecraft available across platforms – including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC,” Spencer said.
The Minecraft community is passionate and diverse, ranging across all ages and demographics. We respect the brand and independent spirit that has made Minecraft great, and we’ll carry on the tradition of innovation to move the franchise forward.Our investments in cloud, Xbox Live and mobile technology will enable players to benefit from richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect with the Minecraft community.
Shortly after the announcement was made, Microsoft's share price had fallen 0.2 per cent.