NEW YORK — Microsoft is expanding its video game empire, buying the wildly popular Minercraft and the tiny production studio that designed it for $2.5 billion.
With Minecraft, Microsoft will be acquiring one of the most popular games ever. Minecraft has been downloaded more than 100 million times since it launched in 2009.
Minecraft is an online video game that mixes Lego-like building blocks with the endearing low-fi of 8-bit graphics. It gives players (“miners”) a world where they can explore endlessly and build just about anything from scratch. It’s alchemy with a virtual pickaxe.
The game runs inside an Internet browser and doesn’t require the costly hardware of modern games. And if it seems low-end, that’s because it is. The game was initially developed by a single man: Markus Persson, who now leads the Mojang studio.
Microsoft said it reached an agreement with Minecraft’s Swedish game developer Mojang to buy the company sometime later this year. The deal had been rumored for a week prior to its announcement.