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Microsoft snaps up Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5bn

Microsoft has snapped up Mojang, the developer of Minecraft, for $2.5 billion (£1.55 billion).

The deal should be closed at the end of 2014, barring any regulatory hiccups, and Mojang will then become part of the Microsoft Studios stable.

You're unlikely to have not heard of Minecraft, but just in case you never take an interest in anything game-related, the sandbox building game lets you construct worlds out of blocks (think of it as a massive-scale freeform version of Lego).

There are different modes of play – you can challenge yourself to survive against marauding baddies, or simply try to build a replica of a famous building, or indeed world (we've seen some epic creations such as a recreation of Westeros from Game of Throne).

Read more: Minecraft maestro creates working hard drive in game (opens in new tab)

It's hugely popular and has seen over 100 million downloads on the PC alone, with it also being available on consoles, and mobile formats, namely iOS (opens in new tab) and Android.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, commented: "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."

So, what does this mean for Minecraft? Microsoft quickly made it clear that it doesn't intend to turn the game into some kind of Xbox/Windows exclusive, and will continue to offer Minecraft on iOS, Android and PlayStation.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, said: "Minecraft is one of the most popular franchises of all time. We are going to maintain Minecraft and its community in all the ways people love today, with a commitment to nurture and grow it long into the future."

Spencer also confirmed that Minecon will still be happening in 2015, and that Microsoft would find further ways for the "vibrant community of YouTuber's, innovators, bloggers and players to connect with each other – both in person and online".

The reaction of the Minecraft community has been predictable enough, with many worried about Redmond's plans on all sorts of fronts – for example, the possibility of charging more for the game.

Markus Persson (known as "Notch"), the founder of Mojang, has also been rounded on by some for selling out, but it appears that dealing with the Minecraft community might be one of the reasons he's taking Microsoft's cash.

Back in June Notch tweeted (opens in new tab): "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."

Microsoft is getting plenty of potential value for money for its billions, though, with an upcoming movie of the game, and a vast array of merchandising opportunities.

Read more: Hit indie game Minecraft to be made into a Hollywood movie (opens in new tab)

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.