Microsoft agreed to acquire Finnish game developer Mojang for $2.5 billion, as it looks to further strengthen its gaming portfolio, which already includes the Halo and Forza titles.
The company behind the massively popular Minecraft game series will join Microsoft Studios, which will continue to make the game available for all current platforms.
Mojang’s Minecraft is the top paid app for iOS and Android in the US and is also one of the most popular online games available for Microsoft’s Xbox console. It has been downloaded more than 100 million times on PC since its 2009 launch.
According to Reuters, around 40 per cent of all downloads of Minecraft end up on smartphones or tablets. However, there currently isn’t a version for Windows Phone — something that will surely change once the deal is finalised.
The game has no particular goal, with players creating their own worlds and exploring others, while choosing to build communities, fight zombies or recreate spacecraft from their favourite science fiction films.
Microsoft said its investments in cloud and mobile technology will benefit players through “richer and faster worlds, more powerful development tools, and more opportunities to connect across the Minecraft community”.
The game has an active community on Xbox and PC, which Microsoft may want to tap into as a way of boosting its mobile strategy.
“We are going to maintain Minecraft and its community in all the ways people love today, with a commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future,” said Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox.
With rumours of the deal circulating last week, Nomura analyst Rick Sherlund said in a research note that the deal is not an effort to “double down on Xbox” but “an attempt to better address mobile on a cross-platform basis”.
Microsoft said it expects the acquisition to close in late 2014 (subject to closing conditions and regulatory approval).