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We may not have to speculate about Microsoft's potential purchase of Mojang much longer. A new report suggests that they'll announce the acquisition of the Minecraft developer early next week.
Reuters, citing a "source briefed on the matter," says that Microsoft and Mojang will reveal the deal on Monday. They also mention that Microsoft will be paying $2.5 billion company. That's half a billion more than the initial report mentioned.
Many were puzzled when the first alleged details about the Mojang purchase were announced. Why would Microsoft purchase Minecraft now? Wouldn't it have made more sense to do it before the game was released on competing consoles PS4 and PS3? Microsoft already convinced Mojang to bring the game to Xbox 360 and Xbox One, so what more can they gain from buying the company now?
The report from Reuters has a theory. They argue that Microsoft is purchasing Mojang because of the mobile market. Minecraft is currently the top-selling premium app on both iOS and Android devices. It's not, however, on Windows Phones. If Microsoft bought the studio, they could finally get Minecraft on their mobile devices.
“It seems like Microsoft is looking at Mojang and Minecraft as a way to tap into this enormous cultural phenomenon," Tap Lab CEO Dave Bisceglia told Reuters. "If you look at iOS, Minecraft has been a top-grossing game for quite some time, if Microsoft could on Windows phones give players a unique and compelling experience that you can't get on the other platforms, that could be a driver to sell devices to existing Minecraft fans.”
Microsoft could use some help in the mobile market. Windows Phone and the Surface tablet are said to only have about 2.5% of their respective markets.
Still, the same question remains: why buy Mojang now? Now that Minecraft has been on iOS and Android for years, does it make sense to pay billions of dollars to bring it to Windows Phone? Is a Windows mobile version of Minecraft really going to sell units if everyone can just get the game on other, more popular mobile devices as well?
The Reuters report is limited to discussing Minecraft itself. However, I can't help but wonder if Microsoft has future Mojang products on their mind as well. Yes, Minecraft is already on competing platforms but what about the next game from the studio? If Microsoft made their platforms the exclusive home for Mojang's future games, or even additional features for Minecraft, that could be a huge trump card.
Still, $2.5 billion is a huge bet on Mojang's future production. Microsoft would be gambling that they'd be able to create other games with the kind of global reach that Minecraft has, or at least sustain Minecraft's popularity for years and years ahead. The odds might get worse if Mojang's founder leaves as rumored.