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Is this the story of Microsoft and Minecraft’s future?

18 September 2014
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With Microsoft’s announcement that it has acquired the Minecraft creators Mojang, the world’s press has been lit up.  From Bloomberg to Newsround, everyone is speculating on what the impact of this purchase will be.

The product

In comments posted across sites including, Geekwire, and TotalXbox, one of the big questions is whether Minecraft will stay true to the original ‘bootstrapper’ spirit and whether it will continue to be developed on all platforms.  One reporter on ZDNet is already predicting a move of Minecraft Realms from being built on Amazon Web Services to Azure.

The people

How will Mojang employees (or “Mojangstas”) deal with being part of a corporate behemoth – is it a ‘fit’ for people with code at their core?  The founders are leaving and it would be fair to assume, thanks to the $2.5bn price Microsoft has paid, they will do so as very wealthy men.  Markus ‘Notch’ Persson’s post about his reasons for going handle both of these topics in a refreshingly honest way.

The community

Will Microsoft allow the Minecraft gaming community to continue to thrive without breathing down its neck and will it listen to what the gamers have to say?

What can Mojang expect?

In my own experience of having been part of a small software business acquired by Great Plains and then by Microsoft (who went on to acquire Navision before sandwiching these competing product lines and channels together under Microsoft Business Solutions, later Dynamics), it went a bit like this:

People got scared

When you don’t know what’s going to happen, you imagine the worst.  Employees, partners and customers wondered whether it was a golden hello or a silver bullet.  Would people keep their jobs?  Would the product still exist five years down the line? When you feel change forced upon you (especially when that involves being ‘lumped in’ with your competition as happened with Dynamics GP and NAV) you are rightly going to vent your spleen.  It’s not surprising to see so much passionate debate given the loyalty that Minecraft inspires.

People changed

Some took the money and ran.  Some looked for new opportunities and some are enjoying sparkling careers that may not have happened without the acquisition.  We had developers who were handpicked to go to Seattle to work on next-generation software – not a bad endorsement of your skills eh?

Innovation happened

Dynamics NAV, GP, and AX product lines continue to be developed, supported and grown to the point where they now integrate fully with Microsoft productivity tools, keeping up with the cultural changes in how we work.  Without Microsoft’s acquisition –would this still be the case?

The community stayed together

Some Dynamics partners built incredibly profitable businesses that exploited these new opportunities.  Some didn’t like it or struggled to change and decided to do something else.  But it still thrives.  Dynamics businesses continue to invest in tools, training and people because they care about the software and the customer opportunity still exists.

It’s not the end

Minecraft gamers  are a community with their own language, rules and nuanced ways of behaving that would be hard for a business to manipulate, and if they don’t like what’s happening they’re connected enough to turn their individual voices into a roar. It’s in Microsoft’s interest to listen, so whatever changes may come, and whatever the future turns out to be, it will most certainly be influenced by the Minecraft community.  If the forums are anything to go by they love Minecraft too much to walk away – I think they’ll stick around.

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