It appears that Microsoft is prepping to follow Facebook into the YOLO territory of gaming acquisitions. The Wall Street Journal reported today that the software giant will buy the gaming company behind the mega-hit Minecraft for around $2 billion, perhaps as early as this week.
The deal, which Microsoft can well afford with its nearly $86 billion in cash and equivalents, would bring a popular title into the company’s software domain.
The purchase would be massively ironic given that Markus Persson, Minecraft’s founder, has been hailed by some in the gaming community for his criticisms of Microsoft, especially its Windows 8.x operating system.
Microsoft has several irons in the gaming fire: Its Xbox line of games, Xbox on Windows Phone, and, of course, games sold through its several applications stores that are part of its operating system platform.
The oddity here is that Microsoft tends to build platforms that other companies and developers then build on top of, and has tended to have less of a focus on building games itself. Perhaps with the Minecraft deal, Microsoft is looking to change that fact.
You can imagine a few synergies: Bundling Minecraft with new devices, adding exclusive content for Windows users, and the like.
Minecraft has become a sensation, with a gameplay set around free-play, the creation of virtual worlds that are bent to the whim of the user, and are generally limited only to the creativity of the user playing. The game has also spread its roots into the physical world, with toys sourced from in-game creatures finding retail homes at Walmart, Toy R Us, and other locations.
Facebook recently spent $2 billion on Oculus, a virtual reality gaming headset. If Microsoft buys Minecraft, expect a bevy of hilariously bad op-eds parsing why the deal makes great sense.
Microsoft declined to comment.
Top Image Credit: Minecraft.