When Microsoft bought the Swedish company, Mojang, the makers of the insanely popular Minecraft game, in a $2.5 billion deal in 2014 that surprised everyone, everyone thought that it was the end of Minecraft, or at least the game would be banished to Xbox. Even Mojang’s founder, Markus “Notch” Persson, was previously critical of the purchase and thought that the game would just be an add-on to any computer with the Windows OS. Fast forward to 2016: In the first quarter of this year alone, Minecraft is selling 53,000 copies of the game EACH DAY. Since the Microsoft purchase, more than 100 million copies have been sold across platforms for Nintendo Wii U, Sony Playstation, Xbox, Android, iPhone, and PC’s.
As 12,000 loyal Minecraft fans gathered at the Annual Minecon in Anaheim, California, last week, Microsoft Executive Vice-President for Minecraft, Matt Booty, discussed how Minecraft will go on for the next 100 years while its concept and platform becomes the basis for even better games and expansion, but still focused on the basic premise of the game. According to Booty, acquiring Minecraft wasn’t all about bolstering Microsoft’s lines of business, or even Xbox or Windows OS, but rather the opposite. It was meant to bolster and expand Minecraft itself using Microsoft technology. For instance, Microsoft is now looking into versions of the game beyond the mouse and keyboard. Microsoft is also experimenting on a Minecraft version using its experimental HoloLens holographic goggles from 2015 as well as control combinations using voice and hand gestures.
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And while Minecraft is foremost a video game, Mojang and Microsoft has also made sure the game embraces cross-media branding similar to what Lego experiences. In fact, Lego and Mattel – both experiencing cross-branding – are also making Minecraft toys. Target and other department stores are also selling Minecraft apparel, while Warner Bros. is all set to release a Minecraft movie in 2019. What boosts these creations of new versions and cross-branding was the surprising discovery in recent research that, though Minecraft was originally intended as a video creative game for kids, the average Minecraft player is actually 29 or 30 years old. Also, players tend to be 55% male and 45% female, far better than other major video games that are usually 60-70 percent male dominated.
A unified Minecraft realm
The probable next big goal, obviously, is for all players on all platforms to be able to play with each other. This has already started with players on iPhone, Android, Samsung Gear VR, and Windows 10 versions of Minecraft being able to all play with each other on local wireless with no extra configuration required. A paid subscription service, called “Minecraft Realms,” takes it a step further by letting those players set up an online world they can cohabitate from miles apart. A big step toward this objective has been bringing all the major versions of Minecraft, across PC, phones, and consoles, all closer together in terms of features, such as adding basic support for modifications, plus other goodies from the PC version.