A rumor’s been circulating that Microsoft is zeroing in on an acquisition of Mojang, the Swedish development team behind Minecraft, and the latest report, via an unnamed source speaking to Reuters, suggests that the deal will be announced on Monday, September 15.
What’s most interesting about this situation is the reasoning behind Microsoft’s alleged $2.5 billion purchase: Mobile growth. Minecraft may have started life on PC and eventually wound its way to consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox, but the game is also a smash hit in the mobile space, as the top-selling paid app on both Apple and Android platforms. The game doesn’t exist on Windows Phone platforms, and that’s because of the mobile operating systems insignificant market share.
“Because it’s tiny,” Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson wrote in a 2013 email to Reuters, responding to the question of why his hit game never materialized for Microsoft’s mobile platform. “Both Symbian and Blackberry have more users than Windows Phone.”
Microsoft’s Surface tablet also factors in here. The line of portable computing devices still hasn’t managed to make much of a dent in a market ruled primarily by iOS and Android hardware, and a Surface-friendly version of Minecraft could help to generate interest, especially if Microsoft can find a way to lure in gamers that would like to carry saved content across their Windows and Xbox devices.
This is all pure speculation of course. The acquisition continues to dwell in the realm of rumor, and even if it’s true, Windows Phone and Surface struggles might not be what’s spurring the deal. It seems likely though, given Mojang’s success with on-the-go software and Microsoft’s continuing efforts to find its footing.