Microsoft Talks Minecraft Buyout, Possibility of Minecraft 2
Phil Spencer says Microsoft must "meet the needs" of the Minecraft community first before it thinks about how to grow the franchise.
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Following the announcement of Microsoft's $2.5 billion acquisition of Swedish developer Mojang and the chart-topping Minecraft franchise in September, some wondered how the Xbox maker would grow the brand going forward. A sequel was suggested by some, but in a new interview, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer says the company must "meet the needs" of the existing Minecraft community before potentially expanding the franchise. He also reminds gamers that the deal has not yet closed (it is expected to by the end of the year) and that Mojang is still in control of the series.
"It's a big deal," Spencer told IGN about the acquisition. "For me, I look at it as a great game to add to our portfolio. I love [the gamer] who plays Minecraft. I love that male, female, young, and old--it's something that lives on so many different screens. I'd love to bring it to more screens out there."
"The community around Minecraft is as strong as any community out there" -- Phil Spencer
One of the first things Microsoft could do with the Minecraft franchise to help improve the overall experience is to "unify" the various versions of the game, using Xbox Live.
"I think what we've learned through Xbox Live is something that we can help in unifying a little bit of what happens with Minecraft today," he said. "If I'm on PC I get access to the mod servers; if I'm on console or the mobile editions, I don't. We're looking at how do we bring that whole system together a little more. Because there are other games out there that let me move from screen to screen fairly seamlessly."
Microsoft has pledged to not remove the existing versions of Minecraft for competing platforms such as PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita. However, it remains to be seen if Spencer's ambition to unify game experiences through Xbox Live would apply to those versions of the game.
Looking ahead, Spencer said he thinks the Minecraft series has "such headroom as an IP," suggesting it has lots of room to grow. He also said Minecraft is a hugely important game not just for Microsoft but for the industry at large--and he wants to carry this spirit forward.
"And frankly, I love what [Minecraft] means for us as a gaming industry--maybe that's overstating it a little bit," he said. "Kids creating things, playing together, having a good time--it has a role in classrooms. I just think it's good for us. I see us as shepherds of the IP."
Asked directly about the possibility of Minecraft 2, Spencer said discussions about future extensions of the series--which he admitted not everyone may agree with--will come later.
"I don't know if Minecraft 2, if that's the thing that makes the most sense. The community around Minecraft is as strong as any community out there. We need to meet the needs and the desires of what the community has before we get permission to go off and do something else," he said. "It doesn't mean that everything we're going to do is going to map to 100 percent of their acceptance, because I don't know if there is any topic where 100 percent of people agree. But we look at Job 1 is to go out and meet the needs of the Minecraft community first, and then we can think about ways that we can actually help grow it. That's our sole focus."
Spencer also responded to the rumors that Microsoft's decision to buy Mojang/Microsoft was "hoisted upon" the Xbox team. He said this is not true, and in fact, the deal came from within Microsoft's Xbox team.
Outside of Minecraft the game, Warner Bros. is currently working on a Minecraft movie. Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy is reportedly a frontrunner to direct the "large-budget" movie, which is in the very early stages of development and might not be released until 2017 or 2018.