Minecraft, the wildly popular block-building construction game that claims more than 100 million players, is expected to be purchased for $2.5 billion by Microsoft on Monday, according to a report from Reuters. The report also notes that Minecraft will be used by Microsoft to super-charge its struggling Windows Phone franchise, which holds just 2.5 percent of the worldwide smarthphone market. Created by Swedish developer Markus Persson, Minecraft is the top grossing app on iOS and Android. Last year, Persson said Microsoft’s market share in mobile was so insignificant that it didn’t warrant his company’s time.
Microsoft’s impending purchase of Mojang, the Swedish developer with 100 million players of its open world Minecraft game, is more aimed at pulling users onto the software company’s obscure mobile platform than its better known PC system or Xbox game console. The software company’s Windows Phone system has only 2.5 percent of the world’s smartphone market, and its Surface tablet barely more, according to tech research firm IDC. Growth is hampered because many app and game developers ignore it. Enter Minecraft, which is the top paid app both on Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) iOS and Google Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Android systems. Microsoft will unveil a $2.5 billion deal to buy its owner on Monday, according to a source briefed on the matter. “It seems like Microsoft is looking at Mojang and Minecraft as a way to tap into this enormous cultural phenomenon,” said Dave Bisceglia, Chief Executive of independent game studio Tap Lab. “If you look at iOS, Minecraft has been a top-grossing game for quite some time, if Microsoft could on Windows phones give players a unique and compelling experience that you can’t get on the other platforms, that could be a driver to sell devices to existing Minecraft fans.” Microsoft does not disclose numbers of users of Windows Phones, and declined comment on the deal.