Gamemaker Minecraft Notch ‘sells itself’ to Microsoft in $2 billion deal | The Independent

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He is gaming’s most successful underdog, who has attacked Microsoft for threatening his fiercely guarded independence.

Now Markus Persson, creator of the hugely popular Minecraft game, has been accused of selling out after striking a deal with the software giant that would make him a billionaire at 35.

Minecraft, the virtual building game that uses Lego-style blocks, has become a phenomenon – with 54 million sales across all platforms – since Mr Persson started coding it in 2009 in his spare time.

The Swede, who initially sold the game only through his own website, had previously canceled a “creepy” deal with Facebook and lambasted other tech titans for seeking to undermine the independence of game developers. And two years ago, Persson said Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating software posed a threat to the gaming ecosystem.

“I got an email from Microsoft, wanting to help ‘certify’ Minecraft for win 8. I told them to stop trying to ruin the PC as an open platform,” he said. he tweeted. “I would rather Minecraft not work on Win 8 at all than play the game. Maybe we can convince a few people not to change to Win 8 this way.

After refusing previous approaches from Electronic Arts and Microsoft, Mr Persson surprised the gaming world by entering into new talks to sell his Swedish company, Mojang, to the computer giant for an estimated $2 billion. dollars (£1.2 billion).

Mr. Persson’s change of heart is believed to have been inspired by a positive working relationship he forged with Microsoft when Minecraft, which places players in a pixelated landscape infected with monsters, arrived on the console. Xbox games.

The developer, known to gamers as ‘Notch’ and who spent periods of unemployment before discovering his coding skills, quickly agreed a price with Microsoft and may leave the company once the deal is done , said sources familiar with the negotiations.

Microsoft thinks it can boost sales of Minecraft — and Xbox — by creating new editions of the game and creating a film and merchandising franchise. However, Mr. Persson’s willingness to sell has troubled loyal Minecraft audiences.

“How these indie values ​​sell against the money,” tweeted Cathy-Anne O’Brien, CEO of a Toronto PR firm.

Markus Persson, creator of game company Mojang

(PENNSYLVANIA)

“Hope you don’t sell out all the fans. Microsoft will be the end of MC,” another player tweeted.

Justin Davis, editor of computer games website IGN.com, warned: “The PS4 and PS3 (and possibly even iOS and Android) versions of Minecraft would either be removed or no longer receive updates.

“To play Minecraft, you [will] have to do it on Windows or Xbox. It’s not an unreasonable thought for a Microsoft executive who just spent billions.

Microsoft could “crack down on individuals who create and promote other real-world brands in their game” and equate Minecraft with its own development team after the departure of Mr. Persson and his co-founders, Mr. Davis added.

Microsoft sources say the company will keep the game available for PlayStation and competing products and that iOS versions are unlikely to be at risk.

Mr Persson appears to have been seduced into the corporate world by Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who flew to Stockholm to have dinner with him.

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