News from the video game industry for the week of November 2
Every Sunday Electronista and MacNN report on some of the happenings of the video game industry during the past week. In this week's edition, we take a look at Microsoft's purchase of Mojang finalizing, Blizzard's new expansions for Starcraft II and Hearthstone, Unity asset development payouts, Grand Theft Auto 5 first-person mode on next-gen consoles, and Electronic Arts terminating its multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, Dawngate.
Out of beta after three years in development, aiming for simultaneous platform release
Minecraft developer Mojang announced in an interview that its next game Scrolls is looking at a November release. The card-based tactics game, best known for its legal spat with Bethesda Softworks over the Scrolls trademark, moved into beta in June 2013 before it was announced that the title would be expanded beyond OS X and Windows.
Spencer thinks unifying platforms is important, focusing on community needs first
Fans holding out for a Minecraft 2 after the Microsoft acquisition of Mojang could be in for some disappointment. In a podcast recording last week, Microsoft's Head of Xbox Phil Spencer said that he doesn't believe that a second version in the franchise make sense. Even though the brand has room to grow, meeting the needs for the community is currently the most important job.
Mojang acquisition involves exit of company founders including Markus Persson
Microsoft has officially confirmed it is acquiring Mojang, the Swedish game studio behind Minecraft. Purchased at the rumored cost of $2.5 billion, the deal will include the majority of the Mojang development team, though notably company founders Carl Manneh, Jakbok Porser, and Markus "Notch" Persson will be leaving the company once the acquisition is completed.
Acquisition cost pinned at eight times Minecraft's 2013 sales
More details are emerging from Microsoft regarding the rumored deal for Mojang deal. According to sources familiar with the matter, the software giant could announce the deal which would net it the Minecraft developer as soon as Monday, for $2.5 billion in cash. The acquisition cost is about eight times the developer's sales for 2014, and there is no clear known heir to the Minecraft throne in the pipeline.
Sale would be against Mojang's philosophy, could bolster Xbox support for Microsoft
Microsoft has entered into discussions that could see it signing a deal to purchase Mojang AB for more than $2 billion, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Mojang AB is the developer behind Minecraft, one of the most popular games across the globe. The potential sale marks a shift in philosophy for the Swedish developer, as its majority shareholder and founder Markus "Notch" Persson has been a proponent against large corporations and mainstream video games.
Announcement includes data imports from older consoles, upgrade price
Minecraft is making its way to the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita this August, according to a statement from Mojang today. The company detailed some of the differences from previous console generations, including a reduced cost for buyers of previous versions and ability to import saves to next-generation consoles. The company also announced that most downloadable content (DLC) and texture packs would be available in the new versions.
Putt-Putt trademark owner not distinguishing between Mojang and users
Minecraft developer Mojang has been hit with a cease-and-desist order by miniature golf franchise owner and trademark holder Putt-Putt over the use of the "Putt-Putt" name in YouTube videos generated by game players. Enclosed with the legal complaint are screenshots pulled from YouTube of Putt-Putt miniature golf content within the game generated by users not affiliated with the developer.
Near-manufacture 5-megapixel camera to undergo testing
A prototype of the full production camera add-on for the Raspberry Pi has been demonstrated in public. Shown at the Electronica 2012 trade fair in Munich, Germany last week, the 5-megapixel camera is said to be close to the eventual final production model, suggesting it will be released to hardware hobbyists in the not too distant future.
Notch vows to make sure 'they don't get a cent'
Minecraft developer Mojang is being sued by Uniloc over alleged patent infringement. According to Uniloc, patent number 6,857,067 for a "System and method for preventing unauthorized access to electronic data" is being used by Mojang for its Android port of the game, and is seeking damages by way of a jury trial in Texas. Mojang lead Markus Persson, also known as Notch, has tweeted that he will "throw piles of money at [them] making sure they don't get a cent."
Special Xperia Play from Mojang up on eBay
Mojang, the developer of Minecraft, is selling a limited edition Xperia Play smartphone on eBay, with the 50th bid up to $1,250 at time of writing. More versions of the device are expected to be given away to winners at the upcoming GamesCom show in Germany. The handset differs from run-of-the-mill devices only with its Minecraft-themed paintjob.