Publisher Mojang and Microsoft agreed to the deal yesterday. Minecraft – a game based on exploration, survival, and building using blocks akin to Lego bricks – is not only massively popular as a game, but increasingly in the area of branded merchandise. The brand even has a deal with Lego – which it has borrowed from liberally – to create Minecraft-themed Lego sets.
As a result of the acquisition, the Mojang team will join Microsoft Studios, which has developed video games including ‘Halo’, "Fable’ and ‘Forza’; although three of Mojang's founders, including Markus "Notch" Persson, will leave as a result of the deal.
The game is one of the most popular in history. Since it launched in 2009 it has been downloaded more than 100 million times. It is characterised by deceptively basic-looking graphics that belie the game’s sophistication.
Minecraft is available on multiple platforms, including PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Xbox One and Android and iOs phones and tablets.
Microsoft said its investments in cloud and mobile technologies would enable Minecraft players to "benefit from richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools".
The technology giant said it expects the acquisition to break even in its 2015 financial year.
News of the agreement has been met with a mixed response, with some fans arguing that the corporate nature of the deal betrays Minecraft’s independent roots.
Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, said: "Gaming is a top activity spanning devices, from PCs and consoles to tablets and mobile, with billions of hours spent each year.
"Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft."