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Report: Microsoft's $2B deal to buy Minecraft studio was instigated by Notch

The rumored $2 billion deal for Microsoft to buy Minecraft creator Mojang was kicked off by the developer's founder, Markus "Notch" Persson, a few months ago, according to a new report by Bloomberg.

Persson, according to the report sourced to three people with knowledge of the talks, will help out with the transition, though he is unlikely to stay at the company beyond that.

Earlier this week, a Wall Street Journal story with a single source broke the rumor that Persson was in talks with Microsoft to sell his company. According to that report, the deal could be signed as early as this week.

As of June 2014, Minecraft has sold almost 54 million copies across all its available platforms. The game launched on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 last week. Fans of the world-building sandbox game have used it to educate, for wedding themes, to help with city planning around the world and to create a live opera. The game was officially released in 2011 after a two-year beta.

Persson reached out to Microsoft about selling because of the positive working relationship he had with Xbox, according to the Bloomberg story. That relationship wasn't always reflected in Persson's public comments about the company's products, though.

In 2012, as Windows 8 was preparing to launch, Persson was opposed to certain elements of the operating system, tweeting he'd rather "have Minecraft not run on Win 8 at all than play along. Maybe we can convince a few people not to switch to Win 8 that way... "

He later said in a Reddit AMA that Microsoft's new operating system could be a hindrance to freedom of development.

"I hope we can keep a lot of open and free platforms around. If Microsoft decides to lock down Windows 8, it would be very very bad for Indie games and competition in general. If we can keep open platforms around, there's going to be a lot of very interesting games in ten years, mixed in with the huge AAA games that we all love."

Persson was not the only high-profile developer opposed to the new operating system in 2012. Both Valve's Gabe Newell and Blizzard's Rob Pardo expressed similar concerns about the operating system.

According to the Bloomberg story, Xbox chief Phil Spencer has been wooing Persson in person, flying out to have dinners with the Mojang founder. According to one source, Microsoft thinks that it can expand Minecraft's reach in both the game and licensed property. A Minecraft movie is currently in the works, and Mojang has already licensed books, toys and a plethora of other merchandise.

We've reached out to Microsoft and Persson for comment and will update this story if they respond.

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