On Monday, Microsoft added a new building block to its plans for growth with the addition of the video game Minecraft and its studio, Mojang, for $2.5 billion.
If you've never heard of Minecraft, here's five questions about the game.
1. What is Minecraft?
It's an open world, "sandbox" style video game, which basically means players are dropped into the game and can explore however they want. Players find resources, create gear and construct objects using 3-D cubes. It's the digital equivalent to Legos.
2. How did Minecraft get so big?
It started in 2009, when Markus "Notch" Persson launched a developmental version of the game for PC players. Despite graphics resembling much older games, Minecraft's game play is incredibly modern. The game generated lots of buzz among PC players, prompting an official release in 2011. It later expanded to video game consoles including PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as well as Apple's iOS devices and Google's Android platform.
3. How popular is Minecraft?
It's been downloaded more than 100 million times, according to Microsoft. It's the second most-popular paid app on iOS and the most popular paid app on Android. Keep in mind the mobile versions of both games launched nearly three years ago. The game has spawned its own merchandising, from apparel to Lego sets. There's even a movie in the works.
4. Why is it so popular?
Freedom. Players make the experience of their choosing, stretching their creativity. It can be an adventure game with villains to vanquish, or a construction experience where players can build anything from a simple home for their character to WesterosCraft, an accurate depiction of the universe in Game of Thrones (Time has a great look at some of the best creations in Minecraft). As Forrester analyst James McQuivey notes, "Minecraft is what it is because its users are free to make it whatever they want it to be."
5. Why would Microsoft want it for $2.5 billion?
It's a big name, with an even bigger audience. It could also help attract a younger group of users to the company's Windows Phone platform, says FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives. "They need to do everything in their power to entice consumers to go to their devices."
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