U.S. Markets closed

12 Reasons Why Microsoft Bought ‘Minecraft’

Dan Tynan
Yahoo Tech

Is Microsoft out of its mind for paying $2.5 billion (with a B) for Minecraft?

Minecraft Legos

(David Pickett/Flickr)

No, it is not. Buying Mojang (makers of Minecraft) makes a ton of sense for Microsoft, despite the possibly inflated price tag. It might end up being one of the smartest and boldest moves Microsoft has ever made.

Read more: A Parent’s Guide to Minecraft: 5 Reasons to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Cubes

All of the following comes with the standard caveat: As Long As Microsoft Doesn’t Screw It Up (ALAMDSIU). But here are a dozen reasons why this is a really smart move:

1. Microsoft desperately needs younger users.
Few self-respecting adults boast about how awesome their Windows phones are. (Though they actually are kind of awesome.) But kids are fickle and will switch brands in a heartbeat. Like Princess Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the youth market is Windows Phone's only hope.

Princess Leia GIF

The smartest thing Microsoft has ever done is make Xbox part of Windows Phone so it would be more appealing to the youth market. (Second smartest thing? Retiring Microsoft Bob.)

Sony is trying desperately to copy that with its latest Xperia Z3. Good luck with that, guys.

2. Windows Phone has an apps problem.
The dumbest thing Microsoft has done: Failing to build compelling apps that would give iPhone fanboys and Android phandroids a reason to consider Windows Phone. “Hey, we have Instagram, too” isn’t gonna cut it. Guess what extremely popular game isn’t on the Windows Phone — yet? We expect that to change in a hurry.

3. Minecraft is everywhere (except Windows Phone).
Buying Minecraft instantly puts a high-profile Microsoft property on the Sony PlayStation, Wii, Mac, and iOS devices. That’s assuming a) the other platforms continue to support Minecraft (most likely) and b) Microsoft doesn’t try to make future versions exclusive to Windows platforms (see ALAMDSIU).

Minecraft pirate ship

Minecraft pirate ship — avast, ye mateys. (JimmyJett/Flickr)

4. Minecraft is massively popular. The $7 Pocket Edition is currently the second most popular paid app in the iTunes Store. Overall, Minecraft has clocked more than 50 million downloads in total, including the PC/Mac versions (15 million), Xbox (12 million), and Pocket (21 million). Microsoft, for its part, says the number exceeds 100 million on the PC alone. Whatever. It’s a crapload of fans.

5. Minecraft is a rite of passage that never ends. Don’t believe me? Ask an 8-year-old. It’s like The Little Mermaid for gamers, only many of them keep playing long after they’ve outgrown Ariel. There are also Minecraft servers that cater exclusively to adults.

6. Minecraft’s fans are insanely passionate. Minecraft’s user base approaches Apple’s for scary, rabid passion. No other Microsoft property, even the Xbox, generates that kind of loyalty. And when kids aren’t playing Minecraft, they’re watching videos of other kids playing Minecraft.

7. Minecraft is more of a lifestyle than a game. Unlike with Angry Birds, Draw Something, or other flavor-of-the-month games, Minecraft users make a serious investment of time, building more and more sophisticated landscapes. This is not something they drop after three or six months; it’s a commitment.

Minecraft castle

An ancient Babylonian castle rendered in Minecraft. (swiftsampson/Imgur)

8. Schools love Minecraft. Apple thoroughly kicked Microsoft’s heinie in the education market by offering schools deep discounts starting in the ’80s. Now Google is going after that market aggressively with Google Apps and Chromebooks. Teachers who “get” Minecraft are over the moon about it. It finally gives Microsoft a chance to get its Keds inside the classroom door.

9. Parents also love Minecraft. Once they understand that Minecraft is more about building cool stuff than blowing things up, many parents don’t mind when their kids spend all night on it. Some have set up Minecraft servers for their kids so they can control whom their kids interact with during the game. When’s the last time you heard a parent say they love it when their kids play Halo or Call of Duty?

10. Microsoft doesn’t need to turn a profit on Minecraft to be successful. The company has sold more than 100 million Xboxes and has yet to make a dime on any of them. (The same is true for Sony and its PlayStation, FYI.) They do make coin on the games, though. And the company projects that Minecraft will start to break even in 2015. 

Tweet from Markus “Notch” Persson

Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson said “Show me the money” — and Microsoft did. (Twitter)

11. Microsoft has buckets of money to lose. Microsoft currently has about $85 billion in cash reserves, or enough to buy another 34 Minecrafts (or 40 copies of the L.A. Clippers). Even if it’s never a money maker, it’s worth it as an investment in mindshare (not to mention Mineshare).

12. Two words: LEGO + Minecraft. The LEGO Minecraft co-build project combines the real and virtual worlds of blocky creativity. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that awesomeness?

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Microsoft's mobile platform as Windows Mobile, not Windows Phone. What can we say? Old habits die hard.

Questions, complaints, kudos? Email Dan Tynan at ModFamily1@yahoo.com.