Microsoft’s Minecraft purchase has always been a weird one – at 2.5b$, it wasn’t cheap, and it didn’t make sense in Microsoft’s portfolio of complex enterprise and consumer software.
Minecraft started as a simple project for Markus Person – the guy who started building the game by himself and had a working alpha in just a few days. It ended up becoming a phenomenon in just a few years.
The success of Minecraft has been unprecedented – no game after it has been able to do what it did. It even managed to revive the ‘survival’ genre of games, where the game threw players in a sandbox and expected them to figure things out rather than holding their hands each step of the way.
In an interview with Business Insider, Microsoft’s VP of Minecraft, Matt Booty, discussed Microsoft’s plans for Minecraft. Hint: they are much bigger than you thought.
Lego has managed to build a brand every child knows of – the tiny building blocks that help children bring the best of their creativity into reality are something the Danes are very proud of.
Microsoft intends to build the Minecraft brand in the same way – something that will live on for the next hundred years.
To be timeless
In some ways, the plan is already in motion – when Minecraft was acquired by Microsoft, players had feared that Microsoft would limit the game to its Xbox and PC ecosystem. Instead, we now have Minecraft on virtually every platform – there’s a version for Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, macOS, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, PS Vita, even the Raspberry Pi has a specific version for it.
The key to building a timeless brand is to be platform agnostic; if Minecraft were to depend on or limit itself to a single platform, it would die as the platform dies.
To be a brand
Minecraft’s marketing is also a challenge. The current Minecraft numbers show that the average Minecraft player is 29 or 30 years old – this is in stark contrast to the image of Minecraft being a children’s game. Furthermore, the male to female ratio is also better than most games – at 55% male and 45% female players.
This presents a unique challenge – if they advertise the game for adults, kids would be alienated and vice versa. The same goes for the genders – it the marketing cannot focus on a gender.
Still, these are the troubles that arise when you aim to build an immortal brand. Whether Microsoft can deal with this challenge is a different question, which can only be answered by time.
For now, whatever Microsoft is doing with Minecraft seems to be in-tune with the players and fans. We can only hope it stays that way.