I did not expect the Microsoft acquisition of Mojang, but had I given any thought to it, it should not have been a big surprise. With more than 100 million downloads, Minecraft is one of the most popular games of all times and clearly, this is a great deal for Microsoft.
I like Minecraft because of the way it can encourage creativity. It is not the epic battles that one can fight that make the game so fascinating, is the building your own world, city, castle, space-station, or anything you can think of, and equip them with hidden doors, traps, secret passages, all sort of objects and different characters.
I have never used it but I have watched my son build fantastic worlds using complex commands and parameters. He finds videos posted on Youtube by young men and teens expert Minecrafters and is able to follow their advice and instructions and adapt them to his own goals. He has had many a eureka-moments since he started, not much of a big deal, considering that he can be a very focused boy, but the thing is: he is dyslexic and very young, so writing down complex commands is hard for him, as is remembering a long list of parameters and rules. Nevertheless, he works hard at it, writes his own notes and comes up with his strategies to address both his own challenges and those of the program and he troubleshoots his own command lines until he gets what he wants. I only see him frustrated when internet is slow (he is for net neutrality!) and I have helped him only a couple of times, but he has really impresses us many, many times with his creations.
He makes me want to play too, the only reason why I have not done yet it is because I am afraid that I am going to like it too much.
I expect and hope that Microsoft will not mess with it (that is “improve” it so much that its original spirit and feel is lost) and will let the Minecraft crowds be happy with what they love.
Notch (aka Marcus Persson), the founder of Mojang and creator of Minecraft, did not join Microsoft and said that he is not planning on working on something as big again, “I’m not a CEO. I’m a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter. As soon as this deal is finalized, I will leave Mojang and go back to doing Ludum Dares and small web experiments. If I ever accidentally make something that seems to gain traction, I’ll probably abandon it immediately.” Well, I hope that he will change his mind later on. I am sure that he will not need to worry about income for a while and maybe, hopefully, he will be able to come up with something equally creative and ingenious in its simplicity.
Good luck to Notch.
Good luck to Microsoft (please don’t mess this up!)