Minecraft, the beloved indie sandbox-builder that went on to become the third-bestselling video game in history, is now officially part of Microsoft.
Microsoft confirmed the deal -- rumored to be in play for upwards of $2 billion -- with an Xbox Wire video and press release this morning. The studio's few-dozen employees are now employed by one of the largest corporations in the world, save Mojang co-founder Markus "Notch" Persson, who confirmed that he's leaving the company, along with the studio's two other founders, Jakob Porsér and Carl Manneh.
In the statement, Microsoft says it will in fact pay $2.5 billion for Stockholm-based Mojang and the studio's Minecraft franchise. Microsoft says it expects the purchase to "break-even" in the company's 2015 fiscal year, and that the purchase should be completed by the close of 2014.
Don't worry -- yet: Microsoft says it plans to continue to make Minecraft available on all the platforms to which it's beholden now. Here's Microsoft Xbox honcho Phil Spencer:
‘Minecraft’ is one of the most popular franchises of all time. We are going to maintain ‘Minecraft’ and its community in all the ways people love today, with a commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future.
But parse that language conservatively and you'll note the company's explicitly not committing to carrying forward hypothetical sequels or expansion content for the existing version (much less alternative Mojang projects down the road).
That doesn't mean we couldn't see "Minecraft 2" on PlayStation 4, iOS or Android (or whatever might have been: as tech journo Benj Edwards notes, Minecraft is really an ever-evolving sequel unto itself), but those once-certainties are now off the table. And even if we do, it seems unlikely that they'd appear before first gracing Microsoft's Windows Phone handsets, Surface tablets, Xbox consoles or Windows PCs.
Curiously, recently-crowned Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella -- presumed early on to be mulling an Xbox division selloff -- is front and center in Microsoft's press statement, calling gaming "a top activity spanning devices, from PCs and consoles to tablets and mobile, with billions of hours spent each year."
For a detailed look at Minecraft's inception, check out Harry McCracken's The Making of ‘The Mystery of Minecraft’.