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Dear Microsoft: about that Minecraft deal


Hello. There is much excitement about the rumours that Microsoft is going to buy Minecraft. 

Two billion dollars is a lot of money. Familiar and suspicious! 

I hope it works out for you. Minecraft’s probably worth it. I think it’s the most important game in the world. I want Mojang, Notch, and everyone involved to succeed.

There is a worry though. Microsoft’s past record of supporting game studios gives me the fear.

  • Rare, the studio behind Goldeneye, and one of the jewels in Nintendo’s crown, now make Kinect games.
  • FASA, the force behind the PC’s best mech games are gone.
  • Ensemble, the creator of Age of Empires are gone.
  • Aces, the people behind Flight Simulator , are gone.
  • Lionhead made three pretty good games, but now they seem to be flapping in the wind.
  • Bungie ran off.

There are more examples. But they’re a pretty bad precedent.

Microsoft sometimes has a short attention span. As executives come and go, initiatives appear and disappear, studios that don’t conform to the new plan are orphaned, neglected and eventually disappear.

Microsoft created some of the best PC games in the world, built DirectX, and made Windows into the best and most diverse gaming platform on the planet. Then you made us all create Games for Windows Live accounts and OH GOD THE HORROR.

You want to get your money worth from Mojang so it’s super vital you don’t break it. Here’s why Minecraft is so special.

One: it is a brilliant, amazing piece of art. It’s culturally important.

Two: it doesn’t include any microtransactions (on PC). You buy it, and then you play it, and then you’re okay.

Three: it is open and infinitely and easily extensible with mods, skins, maps, and much more.

Four: it’s available to practically every child on the planet if they own a computer or tablet or phone. Minecraft’s scale is now self-fulfilling. It will grow and grow and grow.

There are things I think you could do to improve it.

  • I’d love for Mojang to have as much help as they need to bring updates out faster.
  • Mods and skins could be easier to install and run. It’s awful that so many mod download sites are swamped in porn ads.
  • Take on the EULA fight. It’s ridiculous that vultures are preying on kids with crappy monetised launchers, and pay-to-win servers.
  • Help us set up servers. You’re always banging on about the cloud – giving players the opportunity to manage their own world within the game would be quite the thing.

There are things you mustn’t do.

  • Don’t make Minecraft exclusive to Xbox and Windows. Put it on everything, and if you can navigate the politics, it would be amazing if players on every platform could play together.
  • Don’t restrict what modders can do with the game, in order to push the skins you can sell in microtransactions. Minecraft’s teaching an entire generation that screwing around with code is fun.
  • Don’t get prissy about the kind of things players create. 2B2T is still an amazing achievement, with or without the swastikas.
  • Don’t change the fundamental business model. It’s brilliant for parents that they only have to pay once. But knock yourself out with merchandise. More Lego please.

Most of all. Please, please, please stick with it. Minecraft’s been around since 2009. It should still be with us in 2029.

Please don’t screw it up.