Back in March, Mincecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson slammed virtual reality startup Oculus for selling itself to Facebook for $2 billion. Five months later, word is that Persson is selling Mojang, the company that operates Minecraft, for $2 billion. To Microsoft.
What changed? Well, for one, some hardcore Minecraft users have spent much of this year being pissed off at Persson, and he's spent much of the year being pissed right back.
Since his scathing blog post slamming Oculus back in March, Persson has made a very public evolution on his thinking about, well, making a whole bunch of money by selling a startup. There's the very real chance that he did this because he got sick of people whining and complaining about changes he made to his world building game.
Before we get into this, we have to point out that Microsoft's acquisition of Mojang is not official and hasn't been confirmed by Persson, Mojang, or Microsoft. The Wall Street Journal's reporting on this kind of stuff is generally rock-solid, but massive tech deals like this fall apart at the last minute all the time. I reached out to Persson on both email and Twitter and haven't heard back.
Regardless, the mere idea that Persson would be interested in a deal with a major corporation would have come as a surprise six months ago.
"Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers," Persson wrote back in March, about the Oculus acquisition. "I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook. Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven't historically been a stable platform. There's nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me."
All of those criticisms have been applied by various parties to Microsoft as well—except the games part. With Xbox and Xbox Live, Microsoft has a huge gaming platform that's hosted a number of indie hits. That's why it's not too surprising that it sounds like Persson will take the money and get out of Minecraft altogether.
And that's what's least surprising about all of this. Two years ago, Persson said, maybe jokingly, that his price is $2 billion.
Anyway, my price is two billion dollars. Give me two billion dollars, and I'll endorse your crap.
— Markus Persson (@notch) December 18, 2012
More recently, he's seemed much more serious about the proposition, partly because after the company changed its licensing agreement to clarify that the company wouldn't tolerate users making actual money by charging for mods and in-game content, users whined, complained, and trolled him.
According to Persson, "A lot of people voiced their concerns. A few people got nasty. Someone said we're literally worse than EA." And in a recent Reddit thread, he suggested that he's even received death threats.
That bitching got old. Check out this tweet:
Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life? Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.
— Markus Persson (@notch) June 17, 2014
Explaining the change on his blog, Persson wrote that "every time a big money making deal comes up that would make a lot of money, it's of course very tempting, but at the end of the day we choose to do what either makes the most sense for our products, or the things that seem like fun for us at Mojang."
Soon after, Persson tweeted that he was no longer mad at Facebook for acquiring Oculus. Today, it appears Mojang is no longer fun for him, and he thought it wouldn't be so bad to sell out himself.
Soon after the nonsense that ensued back in June, Persson posted this on his public Reddit account, when someone asked if he'd consider selling Mojang:
"You have no idea how tempting it is right now. First thing I'd do would be to post something explaining why I'm doing what I'm doing to the people who care," he wrote. "Then I'd disable my Twitter and email, and go sit on a beach somewhere with a laptop, firmly locked into my own little world, just poking at code. Just like in the good old days. Except on a beach."
On that beach, he can start building a new world out of blocks of cold, hard cash.
Update: This story has been updated to clarify the nature of the June changes to Minecraft's end user license agreement.