Mojang

Mojang AB
Formerly
Mojang Specifications (2009–2010)
Subsidiary
Industry Video game industry
Founded 2009; 10 years ago (2009)
Founder Markus Persson
Headquarters ,
Sweden
Key people
  • Jonas Mårtensson (CEO)
  • Vu Bui (COO)
  • Karin Severinson (CFO)
  • Rikard Herlitz (CTO)
Products
Number of employees
70[1] (2016)
Parent Xbox Game Studios (2014–present)
Website mojang.com

Mojang AB (from Swedish mojäng; Swedish pronunciation: [mʊˈjɛŋː]; lit. gadget)[2][3] is a Swedish video game developer based in Stockholm. The company was founded as Mojang Specifications in 2009 by Markus Persson, and transformed into Mojang AB in 2010 with Jakob Porsér. Mojang is best known for creating Minecraft (released in 2011), the best-selling video game of all time. In November 2014, Mojang became part of Microsoft Studios (now known as Xbox Game Studios).

History

Name predecessor (2003–2007)

Swedish video game designers Rolf Jansson and Markus Persson, of which the latter is also known as Notch, started development on Wurm Online, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, in 2003.[4] As the game started turning a profit in 2007, Jansson and Persson incorporated their business as Mojang Specifications AB.[5] However, Persson left the project that same year and wished to reuse the company's name, wherefore Jansson renamed the company Onetoofree AB, and later Code Club AB.[4][5]

Minecraft and formation (2009–2010)

In 2009, Persson began working on a clone of Infiniminer, a game developed by Zachtronics and released earlier that year.[6] Persson used assets and parts of the engine code he had created for an earlier project, RubyDung, and presented first prototypes of the game through videos uploaded to YouTube, starting in May that year.[6] The first alpha version of the game, now titled Minecraft, was released on 17 May 2009, followed by pre-orders for the full release being accepted from 13 June 2009, with Persson reusing the "Mojang Specifications" name for the game's release.[6][7] All sales ran directly through Minecraft's website, wherefore Persson did not have to split income with third parties.[8] In less than a month, Minecraft had generated enough revenue for Persson to take time off his day job to dedicate more of his schedule to developing Minecraft, and by May 2010, he was able to quit his day job entirely.[6]

In September 2010, Persson travelled to Bellevue, Washington, to the offices of video game company Valve, for "a cup of coffee".[9] At the offices, Persson took part in a programming exercise and met with Gabe Newell, before being offered a job at the company.[9] He turned down the offer, instead calling Jakob "JahKob" Porsér, whom Persson had known for five years, via Skype to ask whether he wanted to help him establish a business out of Mojang Specifications, to which Porsér replied that he would quit his job the following day.[6][10] Subsequently, Persson and Porsér incorporated Mojang Specifications as Mojang AB.[6] As both wished to focus on game development rather than business, Mojang hired Carl Manneh, the manager of jAlbum, Persson's previous employer, as chief executive officer.[6][10] Other significant hires included Daniel "Kappische" Kaplan as business developer, Markus "Junkboy" Toivonen as art director and Jens "Jeb" Bergensten as lead programmer.[6][10]

Continued growth (2011–2013)

On 12 January 2011, Minecraft reached one million registered accounts, a number which rose to ten million within the next six months.[6] The continued success led Mojang to start development of a new version of Minecraft for mobile devices.[6] Due to the incompatibility with Minecraft's Java framework on mobile devices, the new version was programmed in C++ instead.[6] Another version, initially developed for Xbox 360, was outsourced to Scotland-based developer 4J Studios and also created using C++.[6] In March 2011, Mojang announced Scrolls, a digital collectible card game.[11] Mojang's attempt to trademark the game's name resulted in a lawsuit with ZeniMax Media, who owned the trademark for The Elder Scrolls series, over the two titles' similarity.[12] In August, Mojang hired artist Henrik Pettersson.[13] Minecraft was finally released out of beta in November 2011, with the announcement taking place on-stage at MineCon, the game's dedicated convention event.[6]

In 2011, Sean Parker, the co-founder of Napster and former president of Facebook, offered to invest in Mojang, but was turned down.[14] Mojang ruled out being sold or becoming a public company to maintain the independence, which was said to have heavily contributed to Minecraft's success.[3][10] By March 2012, Minecraft had sold five million copies, amounting to US$80 million in revenue.[14] In November, the company had 25 employees.[10] In total, Mojang earned $237.7 million in revenue in 2012.[15] In 2013, Mojang released an education-focused version of Minecraft for Raspberry Pi devices, and, after the exclusivity clause penned with Microsoft over the availability of the game's console edition on Microsoft's platforms expired, announced editions of the game for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.[6] In October 2013, Manneh's twin brother, Jonas Mårtensson, formerly of gambling game company Betsson, was hired as Mojang's vice-president.[16] For the year 2013, Mojang recorded a total revenue of $330 million, including $129 million profit.[8]

Sale to Microsoft (2014–present)

By 2014, Persson wished to no longer have to bear the pressure of being the owner of Minecraft; in a tweet published in June 2014, he asked whether anyone would be willing to buy his share in Mojang so he could move on with his life.[6] Several parties expressed interest in buying the company, including Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts, but Mojang chose Microsoft as a result of the two companies' previous partnerships.[6] Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella also stated that HoloLens was a major reason for Microsoft to acquire Mojang.[17] Microsoft announced that they were purchasing Mojang for $2.5 billion on 15 September 2014.[18] The deal closed on 15 November, with Mojang joining the Microsoft Studios label.[6][19] Persson, Porsér and Manneh left Mojang alongside the acquisition, of which Manneh was succeeded by Mårtensson.[6][20] Every employee who stayed at the company for six months following the sale was awarded a bonus worth roughly $300,000 after taxes.[21]

Scrolls was released out of beta on 11 December 2014.[22] Development of additional Scrolls content ceased in 2015.[23] On 22 April 2016, Mojang released Crown and Council, a game entirely developed by Pettersson, for free for Microsoft Windows.[24] An update in January 2017 introduced Linux and macOS versions of the game.[25] In February 2018, Mojang stopped support for Scrolls' online services.[23] In June 2018, the game was re-released as a free-to-play game under the name Caller's Bane, adding support for player-run servers.[26] In September 2018, Mojang announced Minecraft Dungeons, a dungeon crawl-style spin-off of Minecraft to be released for Microsoft Windows in 2020.[27][28] In May 2019, Mojang announced the release of Minecraft Classic, the original browser-based version of Minecraft from 2009, available free-to-play, as well as Minecraft Earth an augmented reality spin-off in the vein of Pokémon Go.[29][7] By this point, Minecraft had sold 147 million copies, making it the best-selling video game of all time.[30]

Games developed

Year Title Genre(s) Platform(s) Ref.
2011 Minecraft Sandbox Android, Fire OS, iOS, Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows, New Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Raspberry Pi, tvOS, Wii U, Windows Phone, Xbox 360, Xbox One [31]
2014 Caller's Bane (originally Scrolls) Digital collectible card game Android, macOS, Microsoft Windows [22][26]
2016 Crown and Council Strategy Linux, macOS, Microsoft Windows [24][25]
2019 Minecraft Classic Sandbox Browser [29]
Minecraft Earth Augmented reality Android, iOS [7]
2020 Minecraft Dungeons Dungeon crawler Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One [28]

Game jam games

In 2012, Mojang partnered with Humble Bundle to launch Mojam, a game jam that would raise money for charity.[32] As part of Mojam, Mojang developed shoot 'em up game called Catacomb Snatch.[32] 81,575 bundles were sold, raising $458,248.99.[32] The following year, in Mojam 2, three mini-games were developed by Mojang simultaneously.[33] Mojang also signed up for Humble Bundle's Games Against Ebola game jam in 2014, again developing three games.[34]

Year Title Event Ref.
2012 Catacomb Snatch Mojam [35][36]
2013 Nuclear Pizza War Mojam 2 [37]
Endless Nuclear Kittens
Battle Frogs
2014 Docktor Games Against Ebola [34][38]
Healthcore Evolved
Snake Oil Stanley

Unreleased games

Until July 2012, Mojang was co-developing a first-person shooter video game codenamed Rex Kwon Do in collaboration with an undisclosed developer.[39] Persson stated that the project was cancelled so that Mojang could focus on the games they own themselves.[40] In March 2012, Persson revealed that he would be designing a sandbox space trading and combat simulator in the likes of Elite.[41] Persson detailed in April that the game's title was 0x10c and that it would be set in the year 281,474,976,712,644 AD of a parallel universe.[42][43] In August 2013, Persson announced that the game was shelved due to him no longer being interested in the project.[44]

Games published

Year Title Platform(s) Developer(s) Ref.
2016 Cobalt Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One Oxeye Game Studio [45]
2017 Cobalt WASD Microsoft Windows [46]

Legal disputes

Scrolls naming dispute

In August 2011, after Mojang had attempted to trademark "Scrolls" for their game, ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, the company behind The Elder Scrolls, sent Mojang a cease and desist letter, claiming that Mojang's Scrolls infringed on ZeniMax' "The Elder Scrolls" trademark, because of which Mojang could not use the name for their game, and that ZeniMax would sue them over its usage.[12][47] Persson offered to give up Mojang's trademark and add a subtitle to Scrolls' name, however, as Mojang ignored the cease and desist letter for the general Scrolls name, ZeniMax filed the lawsuit the following September.[12][48][49] Bethesda's Pete Hines stated that Bethesda and its developers were not responsible for the lawsuit, but that the issue was exclusively centred around "lawyers who understand it".[50][51] Mojang won an interim injunction in October, the ruling being that Scrolls and The Elder Scrolls were too easy to differentiate, though ZeniMax still had the possibility to appeal the ruling.[52][53] In March 2012, Mojang and ZeniMax settled, with all "Scrolls" trademarks and trademark applications being transferred to ZeniMax, who would in turn licence the trademark to Mojang for use with Scrolls and add-on content, but not for sequels to the game or any other game by a similar name.[54][55]

Uniloc USA, Inc. et al v. Mojang AB

On 20 July 2012, Uniloc, a company specialising in digital rights management, filed a lawsuit against Mojang, stating that the licence verification in Minecraft: Pocket Edition's Android version infringed on Uniloc's patents.[56][57] The case was Uniloc USA, Inc. et al v. Mojang AB and was filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.[58] In response to hate mail sent to Uniloc founder Ric Richardson, Richardson denied his own personal involvement, claiming to have only filed the patent and that the lawsuit against Mojang was not by his doing.[59] The patent involved in the dispute was invalidated in March 2016.[60]

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External links

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