Microsoft has agreed to pay $2.5 billion (£1.5 billion) to acquire Swedish games developer Mojang and its popularMinecraft video game franchise.
The title, which has sold over 54 million copies, allows players to shape an environment by crafting and building constructions out of blocks. Microsoft Corp said in a statement today (September 15th) it expects the deal to close in late 2014 and the acquisition to be break-even in fiscal year 2015.
"Gaming is a top activity spanning devices, from PCs and consoles to tablets and mobile, with billions of hours spent each year," said Microsoft chief executive officer Satya Nadella.
"Minecraft is more than a great game franchise – it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft."
The US company said it would maintain Minecraft across all its existing platforms – PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation – with a "commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future".
Some analysts have speculated the deal is designed to attract more users to Microsoft's Windows Phone devices, the BBC reports.
Minecraft is one of the top-selling apps on both Apple's iOS store and and Android's Google Play, and has recently been released for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, further boosting sales.
The startup's founders and top executives won't be joining the software giant. In a statement today, Mojang saidMinecraft had grown from a simple and small game into a "project of monumental significance."
"It was never our intention for it to get this big," Mojang explained, adding that the pressure of owning Minecraft had become a burden for the founder.
Microsoft Corp shares were down 0.65 per cent to $46.3900 today at 10:27 ET in New York.
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