NEW YORK – Microsoft will acquire the maker of the long-running hit game Minecraft for $2.5 billion.
The technology company said it will buy Stockholm-based game maker Mojang. Minecraft, which lets users build in and explore a Lego-like virtual multiplayer world, has been downloaded 100 million times on PC alone since its launch in 2009. It is the most popular online game on Xbox, and the top paid app for Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system in the U.S.
"Minecraft is more than a great game franchise - it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
The deal is expected to close in late 2014. Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in fiscal 2015.
In a blog post, Mojang said its founders, Markus Persson, known as "Notch," Carl Manneh and Jakob Porsér, are leaving the company.
Microsoft is primarily known for business software like Word word processing and Outlook e-mail. But this acquisition will help Microsoft expand its gaming division which also includes game franchises such as the "Halo" shooter game and "Forza" racing game.
Microsoft said it will to continue to make "Minecraft" available across all the platforms on which it is available today: PC, iOS, Android, Xbox and PlayStation.