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Microsoft said to be nearing $2B-plus deal for Minecraft maker

The deal would boost Microsoft's Xbox game division and be the first billion-dollar-plus deal under new CEO Satya Nadella, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read

Minecraft, the hit building blocks video game beloved by millions, could soon be part of the Microsoft empire.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Microsoft may be nearing a deal, worth more than $2 billion, to purchase Mojang, Minecraft's publisher.

Microsoft is said to be nearing a deal worth more than $2 billion to purchase Minecraft maker Mojang. Screen shot by CNET

The Journal could not confirm the deal. Mojang executives did not immediately responded to requests for comment from CNET, and a Microsoft spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.

Acquiring Minecraft, which has sold more than 54 million units across all hardware platforms -- Microsoft's Windows and Xbox 360, Apple's Mac, Sony's PlayStation 3, and mobile platforms like Apple's iOS and Google's Android -- could be a big boost for Microsoft's Xbox. The game franchise gives players a nearly open-ended sandbox in which to build, and countless people have used it to create all manner of boxy creations.

First launched in 2009, Minecraft became an instant hit, giving people a simple version of the kind of building environment that helped propel the virtual world Second Life into the mainstream. Minecraft has been highly profitable, as well, earning $128 million in profit in 2013, according to CNET sister site Gamespot.

Minecraft has inspired multiple Lego sets. Lego

Minecraft's building blocks style is reminiscent of Lego, and indeed, the toy giant has partnered with Mojang on multiple tie-in sets, bringing the game from the digital into the physical. Mojang has also struck deals with Scholastic on books, and with Warner Bros. Pictures for a forthcoming movie, according to the Journal.

For Microsoft, the deal would be the first worth 10 figures under new CEO Satya Nadella. "It would also be somewhat of an unexpected plunge for Mr. Nadella, who has signaled Xbox isn't a core business for Microsoft," the Journal reported. "At the same time, Mr. Nadella has said Microsoft views video games as a way to expand the company's footholds in PCs and mobile phones. In a letter to employees in July, Mr. Nadella called gaming the 'single biggest digital life category, measured in both time and money spent, in a mobile-first world.'"