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Culture Clash: Minecraft Fans Fear Microsoft

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Minecraft has grown a multitude of immature fans, including these high-school students sauce as a game’s characters final year.
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succeeds in buying a association behind a strike videogame “Minecraft,” it will have to assuage 14-year-old

Henry Levenson

and his pals.

“A infancy of my friends don’t consider Microsoft is cool,” pronounced a Boston-area teenager, who plays “Minecraft” during slightest once a day. At a moment, he is spooky with regulating a game’s Lego-style practical blocks to build courthouses with magnificent marble columns.

News that Microsoft is negotiating to acquire Swedish association Mojang AB for some-more than $2 billion sets adult a strife of cultures between a corporate hulk and “Minecraft” loyalists—spanning from middle-school children to videogame die-hards.

To many of a fans, Mojang’s antiestablishment strut has always been partial of “Minecraft’s” mystique. Mojang, that has usually about 40 employees, is run by programmer Markus Persson, who has gained a cult following by publicly blustering large tech companies, including Microsoft,


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Microsoft, pulling 40 and value about $387 billion, is seen as a program industry’s goliath.


Already, there are signs that a “Minecraft” diversion underneath Microsoft will be different. According to people with believe of a matter, Mr. Persson is approaching to leave Mojang if Microsoft completes a deal. The company’s game-development bureau in Stockholm isn’t approaching to pierce or close, a chairman sensitive with a understanding negotiations said.

On online forums such as Reddit and Twitter, many players questioned either a sale would destroy a game’s indie spirits. “Why compensate $2 billion for something only to divide all a fans?” wrote a Reddit user who goes by a hoop Joebovi.

Clint Lalonde,

47, who plays “Minecraft” frequently with his 8-year-old son Graeme, pronounced partial of a interest of Mojang was that a group seemed to be outsiders—”and now they’re articulate with maybe a many mainstream record company,” he said.

WSJD is a Journal’s home for tech news, research and product reviews.

Several months ago, there were signs that a vigour of owning Mojang and responding to a game’s legions of devotees was wearing on Mr. Persson.

In June, a association sensitive users that it would start to some-more particularly make a manners of a terms of service, restraint independently-run servers from charging players for in-game perks. The pierce dissapoint many in a Minecraft community, who uttered their gainsay on Twitter and in Reddit posts, with one chairman job a association “literally worse than EA,” referring to diversion hulk Electronic Arts.

Amid a complaints, on Jun 17, Mr. Persson wrote on Twitter: “Anyone wish to buy my share of Mojang so we can pierce on with my life. Getting hatred for perplexing to do a right thing is not my gig.” In a critique on Reddit, Mr. Persson pronounced he fantasized about disabling Twitter and email and sitting on a beach with his laptop, “firmly sealed into my possess world, only poking during code.”

Soon after, Microsoft answered. According to a chairman with believe of a matter, a record hulk reached out to Mojang and roughly a month later, an exclusivity agreement to negotiate a understanding was signed.

The intensity sale—and a recoil from “Minecraft” fans—shows how it is removing harder for immature videogame companies to form to a industry’s eccentric roots as they turn large business.

Twitch, a use used by millions of people to watch videogame play as a witness sport, recently concluded to sell a association to


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for scarcely $1 billion. Supercell, builder of “Clash of Clans” and other renouned games, final year sole a infancy of a association to Japanese telecom hulk


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in a understanding that valued a little Finnish association during $3 billion.

The founders of virtual-reality headset builder Oculus VR faced their possess hitch of critique after offered their startup for $2 billion to Facebook. Software developers and tech enthusiasts vented their annoy over their notice that a founders sole out, and Mr. Persson even took to Twitter to contend he canceled skeleton to move a chronicle of “Minecraft” to Oculus given a amicable network “creeps me out.”

“Minecraft” has always been an doubtful success story. Unlike other videogames that lay out minute instructions, there are no blueprints for personification “Minecraft.”

The freewheeling inlet of a diversion desirous one of a many intent communities in a videogame business.

Users have set adult their possess “Minecraft” quasi-spinoff games, and videos of people personification “Minecraft” or formulating songs about a game’s characters hoard millions of views on YouTube.

“Minecraft” fans see Mr. Persson, who is 35 and goes by a nickname Notch, as a folk hero, pronounced

Tommy Carpenter,

lead editor of Minecraft Forum, a site clinging to a game.

“A lot of them have seen Minecraft, and Mojang by extension, as a foregoer to a indie diversion growth scene,” he said. “To them a suspicion of an eccentric association removing acquired by a incomparable house is only foreign. They don’t know what would means that to happen.”

Lukas Fülling, 18, a programmer who lives in Kassel, Germany, pronounced he was disturbed what Microsoft would do with his personal information and suspicion a diversion competence turn some-more expensive. Mojang, on a other hand, he said, is “not above a users.”

Michael Pachter,

a videogame researcher with Wedbush Securities, says “Minecraft” fans have some-more to benefit than to fear from intensity new owners. He pronounced Microsoft has a money, manpower and videogame bequest to urge a peculiarity of Mojang games and pull them to new audiences. “I don’t fear for Microsoft ownership,” Mr. Pachter said. “They aren’t going to screw it up.”

But a “Minecraft” fans disturbed about preserving a enlightenment of their favorite diversion might have reason to worry. The final time Microsoft bought a prohibited videogame association with a cult following, it wasn’t an wholly blithe union.

Microsoft in 2000 purchased Bungie, a builder of renouned mechanism games that was founded in a college unit of University of Chicago tyro

Alex Seropian.

After a sale, Bungie changed a few dozen diversion developers to Microsoft’s domicile nearby Seattle to finish work on a military-style diversion called “Halo.”

“Halo” went on to turn one of biggest financial successes in a story of a videogame industry, and a diversion helped settle Microsoft’s immature Xbox videogame console. But a attribute between Microsoft and Bungie’s strange backers dissolved.

Mr. Seropian left Microsoft shortly after a recover of “Halo” to emanate another videogame firm. Bungie’s remaining executives pushed for some-more autonomy, heading Microsoft to spin off a diversion studio in 2007.

Harold Ryan,

Bungie’s boss who also worked there underneath Microsoft’s ownership, pronounced a strange sale to Microsoft gave a videogame builder a turn of resources it never could have had on a own. After a few years, however, a Bungie diversion developers wanted to do work over a Xbox. “There are some things that we like to do that don’t fit Microsoft,” Mr. Ryan pronounced Wednesday. “We were looking for something new, and to strike other audiences.”

This week, Bungie expelled a initial videogame given it left Microsoft’s orbit. The game, “Destiny,” has an Xbox chronicle yet has special disdainful calm for


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PlayStation, Microsoft’s rival.

In Boston, Henry Levenson pronounced a intensity sale has divided his friends. A handful have already told him they will give adult on “Minecraft” if Microsoft owns a game. He says he will substantially stay on, yet his faithfulness is conditional.

“If they change it a lot, I’m going to be upset,” he said.

—Lisa Fleisher and Sven Grundberg contributed to this article.

Write to Evelyn M. Rusli during evelyn.rusli@wsj.com and Shira Ovide during shira.ovide@wsj.com

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