The Swedish company behind Minecraft, Mojang, are in talks to be acquired by Microsoft for more than $2 billion, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
If it goes through, the acquisition would be the largest to date for Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella, who took over the company earlier this year and quickly began shifting its direction. For example, under Nadella Microsoft released its Microsoft Office products on the iPhone and Android, a move it had been resistant to doing during the tenure of previous CEO Steve Ballmer.
The head of the company is Markus Persson, one of the most notable game designers in the world. Since the release of Minecraft, more than 16.5 million people have purchased the game on Mac and PC, not including versions for mobile devices or the Xbox 360. In 2013, the company reportedly made $128 million in earnings off roughly $291 million in revenue, according to earlier documents reviewed by the Journal. In 2012, the company made around $90 million in earnings off roughly $235 million in revenue.
The value of Mojang, beyond just the game Minecraft, has also been attributed to the culture and brand that has sprung up around the game. YouTube is home to a whole subculture of people who post videos of Minecraft creations, along with people dressing up as Minecraft characters for conventions. Still, some questions do remain around the staying power of Mojang as a video game company, which despite the popularity of Minecraft hasn’t followed up with a hit game. Persson, more commonly known by his online handle Notch, was most recently working on a game called 0x10c, but had shelved that as of last year.
Seen as a genuine phenomenon, the company has established a surprisingly large audience among younger players, and Minecraft has established significant staying power despite being more than a decade old. This isn’t the first time Mojang has been an acquisition target. Around 2012, they had been the subject of a few discussions in the $1 billion range, according to two people familiar with the situation, though it’s not clear how far those discussions ever progressed.