Feature

What Will Microsoft Do With Minecraft?

by Bryan Vore on Sep 16, 2014 at 12:30 PM

In light of yesterday's announcement of Microsoft's $2.5 billion acquisition of Minecraft and developer Mojang we're looking ahead to what's in store for the blockbuster property. We covering items that were already in the works before the buyout, complete slam dunks, and our theories as to what could and should happen.

1) Equal support across platforms

Minecraft is currently available on PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, iOS, and Android, with a Vita version coming very soon. It's easy to assume that the Xbox platforms will get all the updates and exclusives while the PlayStation editions languish, but that's just bad business. Mojang and Microsoft's figures from earlier this year put the Xbox 360 edition's sales at 12 million out of the total of 54 million sold on all platforms. That's a huge section of the business, but Microsoft will stand to make a lot more money if all 54 million customers are happy. I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft released some new skin and texture packs a couple weeks or a month early on PC and Xbox consoles (and a few permanent exclusives like the Halo pack), but most platforms should have DLC parity after a certain point. As far as bug fixes and feature updates go, everything should be on an even timing there.

In a post on its website, Mojang reiterated its support for all of its current console partners. "There’s no reason for the development, sales, and support of the PC/Mac, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, Vita, iOS, and Android versions of Minecraft to stop. Of course, Microsoft can’t make decisions for other companies or predict the choices that they might make in the future."

2) More content packs

Most of Minecraft's outrageous earnings have come from the initial purchase fee of ~$20. The Xbox 360 version, with the help of Microsoft, has done the best job of scoring exclusive skins. Halo (naturally), Mass Effect, Skyrim, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, and Spider-Man have all been represented in themed packs. This is Mojang's only method to make new revenue off of current fans. In a game that's all about creation, adding new licensed components to play with is what the people want. We expect Microsoft to push this component even harder going forward.

3) More integration with Xbox infrastructure

Xbox avatars aren't necessarily a huge hit with fans. What if Microsoft swapped them out for Minecraft characters? They're versatile and the gaming public already loves them. It would be a pain to transfer all the avatar add-on purchases over, but in the long run it might be worth it. 

In a more feasible goal, perhaps they could work with first- and third-party teams to tie achievements to skin unlocks in the Xbox versions of Minecraft. Imagine how cool it would be to get a Titan skin for hitting level 20 in Destiny or a Batman skin for beating Arkham Knight.

4) Minecraft finally releases on Windows phones

This is more of a guarantee than any other point on this list. Minecraft: Pocket Edition has sold over 21 million copies as of April on iOS and Android and we're sure Microsoft has been begging for a Windows phone port. After the buyout, this just shot to the top of Mojang's priority list.

5) Get the Minecraft movie made

In February, word got out that Minecraft could potentially come to a theater near you. Warner Bros. reportedly acquired the rights and Roy Lee will produce. Why is this a good thing? This is the studio and one of the producers behind the excellent The Lego Movie. This film showed that you can make an awesome film about building blocks, and Minecraft is the video game equivalent. Now Microsoft has to play nice with Hollywood unlike with its infamous Halo movie bungle in 2005.

6) Support the Lego Minecraft Co-build project

Speaking of Lego, combining these two is a match made in heaven. A few sets have already been released to great success, and Lego's ongoing outreach to fans keeps them involved in the development of new releases. Check out the Lego Minecraft Co-build project official site for more information.

7) Or Microsoft could go with a nightmare scenario

Warning, pure doomsday speculation incoming! If Microsoft decides that instead of making money from everywhere it wants to push Minecraft fans to its platforms, we could be looking at another future entirely. Mojang develops Minecraft 2 for Xbox consoles and Windows 9 exclusively. The game is free-to-play, but blocks certain modes, textures, and skins behind a paywall. The look trades simple pixels and blocks for a fancier visuals and more complicated building tools. Support and updates cease on the original Minecraft and it eventually dies in spite of a dwindling pool of modders fighting to keep it alive.

Before you raise the pitchforks, it's doubtful even Microsoft itself even knows exactly the way forward for Minecraft and any potential sequels at this point. One thing we can be sure of is that tens of millions of fans worldwide will be watching Microsoft's handling of their baby and won't hesitate to speak up when something looks fishy. At this point, all we can do is give Microsoft a chance. But be sure to make your voice heard once the company starts making moves for better or worse.