Some Microsoft Partners Think $2.5B Minecraft Deal Is About More Than Just Gaming

Some Microsoft partners think the company's $2.5 billion acquisition of Mojang AB, the Sweden-based maker of the popular videogame Minecraft, could eventually be used in ways that go beyond gaming.

The deal, announced earlier this week, brings Microsoft a $100 million business and a community of some 100 million registered users. Minecraft has sold more than 54 million copies to date, and because it runs on iOS and Android devices, it fits with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's vision for cross-platform apps.

Burke Holland, developer advocate at Telerik, a Waltham, Mass.-based mobile app development vendor, sees Minecraft as more than just a game. Because it lets players build their own environments in a building-block fashion, Minecraft exposes children to the basics of engineering at an early age.

[Related: It's Official: Microsoft's Nadella Inks $2.5B Deal To Buy Minecraft Maker]

Sponsored post

"Minecraft is an absolute under-culture for American youth," Holland told CRN. "Every kid that plays it is really an engineer, picking blocks and creating actual things. It's furthering the science and engineering mindset in kids."

In the future, Microsoft could integrate Minecraft concepts into non-gaming products, including Windows, Holland said.

"What if you had an IDE that's based on the way you build things in Minecraft that you could use to build apps?" he said.

Though he hasn't played Minecraft, Scott Stanfield, CEO of Vertigo Software, a Richmond, Calif.-based Microsoft development partner, said the Minecraft deal will give a boost to the company's mobile business.

"Minecraft is a brand with a strong identity and style, and Microsoft can probably do more with it," Stanfield told CRN. "Plus, they need top-tier content as they continue their relentless march on devices."

Chris Hertz, CEO of New Signature, a Microsoft partner in Washington, D.C., isn't sure yet about the mobile angle and sees Minecraft primarily as a move to bolster Microsoft's gaming business.

"I guess you could make an argument that the purchase of Minecraft is part of the mobile strategy since it is a popular game on mobile devices," Hertz told CRN. "However, it seems more like a straight gaming play to me at a time when Microsoft has a lot of cash on hand."

Microsoft hasn't indicated whether it plans to use Minecraft for anything but gaming at this point. However, Microsoft does expect to use Minecraft to branch out into licensing opportunities for things like toys and movies, Bloomberg reported last week.

Microsoft views Minecraft "like a successful movie franchise at the start of its run," a source told Bloomberg.