Microsoft close to buying Minecraft studio Mojang

The acquisition would give a boost to Microsoft's Xbox gaming division

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
September 9, 2014
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(Updated with comment from Microsoft)

It looks like Microsoft could be getting ready to make a big move to bolster its Xbox gaming division.

 The company is in "serious discussions" to buy Mojang AB, the Swedish company behind the popular "Minecraft" video game, according to a report from the The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. 

If the deal does go through, and it could be signed as early as this week according to the  report, the price tag could be quite hefty; Microsoft is said to be looking at paying over $2 billion to buy the company.

First released five years ago, in 2009, Minecraft allows players to build structures with blocks in order to protect against monsters. The game has been a huge hit, spawning massive amounts of merchandise, from books to toys to even a potential movie.

It's easy to see the appeal for Microsoft to want to add Minecraft to its Xbox platform; Mojang has sold over 50 million copies of Minecraft since its initial release, and the studio earned more than $100 million in profit last year from the game and Minecraft merchandise.

While the game is already available on Xbox, it can also be played on PlayStation, PCs and smartphones. If Microsoft does acquire Mojang, there is a chance that it would make the game exclusive to Xbox, though that would likely cause an uproar with fans of the game.

As of April, Microsoft had shipped 5 million Xbox One units since it was released in November of last year. 

Microsoft would be wiser to use the game to lure more users to its Windows Phone operating system, which still lags behind far behind iOS and Android. Giving Windows Phone users access to exclusive Minecraft content could be a selling point for a number of people.

Founded in 2010, Mojang saw $291 million in revenue in 2013, making a profit of $115 million.

 The purchase of Mojang would be the biggest purchase made yet by CEO Satya Nadella, who officially took over the position from Steve Ballmer in February. So far, under his leadership, the company has purchased cloud computing company GreenButton; mobile app management platform Capptain: SyntaxTree, the developers of the UnityVS plugin for Visual Studio; and InMage Systems, a cloud-based business continuity company. 

Prior to Nadella taking over, Microsoft also purchased Parature, a customer service SaaS provider. 

“We don’t comment on rumors or speculation," a Microsoft spokesperson told VatorNews when we contacted the company for confirmation.

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