Monday, September 15, 2014

Mobile Gaming: Microsoft Said Minecraft To Continue To Have Cross Platform Support, Why the Buyout Now?

I'm not a big Minecraft player.  I barely know what's going on in the world there.  However, after seeing my nephews automatically figure out how to pay it and link their games together, I began to give it a deeper look.  Then I found out that Microsoft was buying out Minecraft maker, Mojang.

And yes, while Microsoft has pledged to continue support the game across the various platforms, I can't help but think about Bungie and Halo.  Microsoft bought Bungie and Halo support for other platforms including OS X and other consoles stopped. 

So, you'll understand if I don't believe Microsoft.  Here are a few questions and notes regarding this purchase.

Why now?  My first reaction was that it would help solidify Windows platform among the Minecraft mobile players.  The game would be exclusive (eventually, support for other platforms would dissipate) and if you want to play Minecraft you'll have to buy a Windows phone or Surface tablet. 

Still, that makes no sense.  It's possible that Microsoft saw Minecraft as a chance for it to own a very popular brand and there was a way to monetize it in ways much like Lego has - movies, TV shows, toys, etc.  I think this would help Microsoft evolve and expand into other products and services.

Really?  Cross-Platform Support?  I'm dubious - as much as you are when Microsoft or any other companies make this kind of pledge.  At best, I reckon support with continue but at the cost of a windowed period or degraded game play for non-Xbox or Windows platforms.

At best, we can be looking at exclusive content for those residing within the Redmond ecosystem. 

What are mobile gamers looking at, really?  I'm tell you the forecast is dark and stormy.  It doesn't look good.  At best, Microsoft's pledge actually holds water.  Android, iOS, Sony, and other platforms will get the best Microsoft will offer.  But this isn't likely to happen.

You'll see high turbulence inthe coming year with Minecraft support.  In this scenario, current versions of Minecraft will get supported.  Newer versions will roll out along to all platforms but you'll be sure they will also work on Windows platforms and Xbox.  That means if they're not ready, we all will have to wait.  Then over time, Microsoft will drop some platforms.  Sony will probably be the first victim.  Microsoft will degrade some versions with lame excuses and more promises it knows it'll will break.  It's not for the sake of the gamers but PR.  After that, subsequent Minecraft updates will be windowed with those coming out for Windows/Xbox first.  Even more degraded versions for Android and iOS will eventually be released and by then, gamers will not have bother with them.

And at the end of the day, anyone who will want a meaningful Minecraft game play will need to own an Xbox or have bought into the Surface or Windows ecosystem. 

Opportunities for Others.  Lego, anyone?  I think there will be others to replace Minecraft if Microsoft thinks shafting mobile gamers not on Windows is a worthy gamble.  I would be excited to see a Lego competitor to Minecraft.  I also see an opportunity for other studios to shine in this arena.  That Minecraft has already sold out is a dire warning for users to begin looking else where for their virtual world building fixes. 

So, what do you think?  Does my experience with Bungie and what Microsoft did with it warrant my dire prediction about what Microsoft will do with Minecraft? 

No comments: