Minecraft and Microsoft: What does it all mean??
Unless you’re a prolific investor or passionate about an industry, news of a corporate sale will—at best—earn your brief attention as it scrolls by on the ticker tape at the top of a Forbes or Inc article. But there’s been some very interesting corporate marriages lately that have gotten even the most non-businessey person’s attention: Disney buys Marvel. Facebook buys the Oculus VR. Apple buys Beats Electronics. Samsung buys SmartThings. Amazon buys Twitch.
And Microsoft buys Minecraft.
And on that point, everyone has a point of view about that unlikely hook-up, even fifth-graders, like the 10-year-old Minecraft fan who wrote a letter to Microsoft pleading the company not to “mess up” her favorite game.
Yes, brands are more transparent than they once were. But it’s no easy task figuring out what an acquisition really means for the products we love. Deals, especially those involving huge amounts of money, could promise more — or foreshadow the end — of a beloved product. One network may release an entire TV series online, available to stream anytime, for free; while another would lock each episode behind a paywall.
For the billions it spent on Mojang, the game studio behind Minecraft, Microsoft cannot predict the future either. Its recent announcement that Minecraft will be available for the Windows Phone sheds some light on the company’s logic, as do plans for a big-budget film in 2017. With children’s books, LEGO sets, and product tie-ins galore already available on shelves, it’s possible that, as Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson suggested, the IP may have been too huge for Persson and his company to handle alone. Maybe Microsoft simply saw a chance at easy income and grabbed it.
Or maybe, like Facebook and Amazon and Samsung, its leadership sensed a platform and brand with the potential to disrupt an industry. Virtual reality, automated home appliances, video game spectator channels, and a digital construction toy aren’t exactly traditional “safe bets.” But each has generated considerable consumer interest and, more important, favorable brand recognition. For a tech giant that isn’t the industry darling at the moment, might this be an opp to appeal to a new generation of consumers, much like Microsoft did with Xbox?
In the meantime, the rest of us can speculate about what Microsoft will do to Minecraft. Better question: What will Minecraft do to Microsoft?