The Mine-crosoft Debacle rages on, as guest writer Anton Krasauskas gives his thoughts on Mojang’s purchase by Microsoft.
I wanted to give this article a little bit of breathing space before I wrote it. I felt as though this topic was far too big to simply dive into. I wanted to be in a position where I could plug myself in to the whole picture and come out with a sort of wordy collage that covers all the points I care about.
At the end of the day big companies buy up successful smaller companies all the time. When Microsoft bought up Rare, I wasn’t really that bothered. Even considering what they did to Banjo Kazooie. (Viva Pinata was alright I suppose. Conker was…let’s not get into that.) The big question that has been floating around my head this whole time is: why do I care so much about this particular game? What is it about Minecraft that has whipped up such feverish hate from all corners of the internet? Is it just the typical rabble rabble rabble that we’ve all come to expect? Perhaps. But if that’s true, why do I almost feel as though it’s actually justified?
I can’t remember the year that I bought my copy of the game. But I can remember that zombies still dropped feathers, there was no Nether, no saddles, no Endermen. It was a long time ago. There was one podcast that I was aware of and only a handful of people making videos on Youtube. That community is almost unrecognisable now, even just a few years on. It has grown exponentially month upon month to a point where there are channels and personalities that are making a living just from their Minecraft content alone. I never made any videos or put up building guides or anything like that, but there are people who started doing just that at around the same time as I bought my copy. And now those guys have changed all their Youtube money into pennies and are doing the best impression of Scrooge McDuck that they can. We felt like we were part of a thing that was going to be kind of big. Not like Super Mario big, but maybe STUN Runner big. Little did we know that evil men and women sitting in plush leather seats were plotting to steal our beloved game away from us whilst murdering puppies and then using the dead puppies to eat babies with.
Luckily for us all though, it just got sold to Microsoft instead, which was a big relief.
I think that the main problem that people have is that it’s Microsoft that has bought Mojang. I can’t say for certain whether people would have been as upset if Sony had been the ones to make the offer, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. There seems to still be an idea in certain corners of the internet that Microsoft has no business being involved in gaming. People are desperately waiting for them to fail in some way, and take great pride in pointing out flaws and failures whenever they occur, but we are of course talking about a subculture of individuals that expend a significant amount of their total energy hating things for no other reason than because they can.
Some people were always going to be angry about the huge, evil, lumbering, monstrous corporate entity “Microsoft” purchasing tiny, little, super-friendly, indie startup “Mojang”. In a lot of people’s heads, Minecraft is their game as much as it is anyone else’s. They have been involved in the game since before it was Beta. And to take this choice out of their hands feels to them like they have been robbed. To sell their game (and therefore to sell them as players of the game) to Microsoft is tantamount to betrayal. There was an unspoken trust there that these people were still paying money to the single digit roster of staff working at a tiny little independent start-up company that was just finding its feet. They were giving their money to a cute, delicate newborn duck, and now this huge, faceless, clanking behemoth has stomped the duckling into the concrete and is laughing at each and every person who believed that this tiny little duckling might one day grow wings and fly away to join the bigger ducks in the sky.
But Mojang is a company. A very profitable, successful, lucrative company. And Microsoft is a bigger, more successful, more lucrative company. There is no little guy, just like there is no evil dickhead mob boss. There are just two very well off companies that decided to get together. It helped that Notch was looking around to sell for at least the last six months, but we’ll get into the personal element in a future discussion.
The main issues that Minecraft players have seem to be fairly obvious. They are worried that they will cease to be a community. The Xbox has been notoriously tarred as the only console with a player base made up of monosyllabic, pre-pubescent, racist, misogynist CoD players and maybe a handful of guys playing FIFA. That is not where they want to be positioned. The Minecraft community is incredibly close knit to say how large it is. And Microsoft has a reputation, possibly undeserved, for looking the other way when it comes to addressing the issues of player harassment and abuse. Players of a family inclusive game about building and creating probably don’t want to be associated with that crowd. I’m sure that there are some nine-year olds who will get home from school, flick on the Xbox, add a floor to their gigantic dinosaur mansion and then switch over to Ghosts so that they can shout “Faggots” as loud as they possibly can for an hour. The audiences are not incompatible. But I am also sure that there are some people who love CoD, but think that Minecraft is gay or boring or whatever, just like I love Minecraft but think that CoD is pointless and irritating, not least because of all of the abuse. Abusive toss rags are not Microsoft’s fault, I understand. But the reputation stands for a reason. And Microsoft has to take some part of that blame.
Follow Anton on Twitter @ajkrasauskas. Watch this space for Part Two of the Microsoft/Minecraft discussion.