Microsoft plans to buy the maker of the long-running hit game Minecraft for $2.5 billion.
The technology company said it will buy game maker Mojang, which has its headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden. Minecraft, which lets users build in and explore a Lego-like virtual multiplayer world, has been downloaded 100 million times on PC alone since its launch in 2009. It is the most popular online game on Xbox, and the top paid app for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating system in the United States.
“Yes, the deal is real. Mojang is being bought by Microsoft,” Mojang posted on its Web site. “Change is scary, and this is a big change for all of us. It’s going to be good though.”
The deal is expected to close in late 2014.
Mojang said its founders, Markus Persson, known as “Notch,” Carl Manneh and Jakob Porsér, are leaving the company. It said Persson felt the game he created had gotten too big.
“Over the past few years he’s made attempts to work on smaller projects, but the pressure of owning Minecraft became too much for him to handle. The only option was to sell Mojang. He’ll continue to do cool stuff though. Don’t worry about that.”
The game’s lead developer, Jens Bergensten, will stay with Mojang, according to the Web site.
Microsoft is known for word processing and e-mail software. But it has a gaming division, which includes titles such as the “Halo” shooter game and “Forza” racing game.
Microsoft said it will to continue to make Minecraft available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.