Microsoft acquires Minecraft developer

Microsoft is acquiring Swedish game developer Mojang, responsible for the hugely popular Minecraft franchise, in a deal worth $2.5bn.

Following the deal, Mojang founders Markus Persson, Carl Manneh and Jakob Porser are leaving the company. The rest of the Mojang team will join Microsoft Studios, which includes the studios behind games such as Halo, Forza and Fable.

Microsoft said its investments in cloud and mobile technologies will enable Minecraft players “to benefit from richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect across the Minecraft community.”

Launched in 2009, Minecraft is one of the popular video games in history with more than 100 million downloads on PC alone. The sandbox world-builder is also the top online game on Xbox and the top paid app for iOS and Android in the US.

Microsoft plans to continue to make Minecraft available across all the platforms it has been available on to date including PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.

“Gaming is a top activity spanning devices, from PCs and consoles to tablets and mobile, with billions of hours spent each year,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement. “Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft.”

The Minecraft community has played more than 2 billion hours played on Xbox 360 alone in the past two years

Microsoft added that it expects the acquisition to achieve break-even in the 2015 financial year on a GAAP basis. Subject to regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close in late 2014.