Microsoft's $US2.5 billion deal to buy Mojang, the company that makes Minecraft, is still just a few minutes old. Lots of debris to sort through! But there's one glimmer of hope for anxious Minecraft fans. The deal could finally pave the way to putting Minecraft where it truly belongs: On the Oculus Rift.
While Microsoft hasn't given much indication of plans for its new prize -- the ink is still wet on the deal y'all, give it time! -- there are two pieces of information that work in tandem to let us hope for the Minecraft/Oculus mashup we had all but given up on. First, that Microsoft has explicitly said that it will continue to develop for other platforms. Second, that Markus "Notch" Persson, Mojang's co-founder and the brain-father of Minecraft, will not be coming along for the ride.
Yes, losing a grown man who calls himself Notch could mean that Minecraft will lose part of its very soul. Maybe. But! It also clears out a major impediment to giving us the virtual reality Minecraft world we deserve, and the one we almost had. Talks to bring the two together were apparently in progress before Oculus rendered itself unto Facebook. At which point, Notch nuked them:
We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.
— Markus Persson (@notch) March 25, 2014
Is Facebook creepy? Sure, maybe, sometimes. But so are lots of things! And weighing out whether to trade potential privacy concerns for the chance to play an amazing game in what should be its rightful habitat should be a choice people make for themselves.
And really, there's no game better suited to the Oculus Rift's form and function than Minecraft. With its infinite supply of randomly-generated worlds to modify and explore, Minecraft is an endless virtual Lego box that it only makes sense to climb inside. And thanks to its iconic, blocky look, it's possible to render those sprawling worlds in 3D on a fairly modest amount of horsepower. It's the chance to create and inhabit a universe outside of your own. Would you rather do that on a PC or in the best virtual reality environs available?
Yes, it remains to be seen how Minecraft continues to evolve without its creator. Yes, Microsoft saying it will develop for other platforms is different from doing, and there's no indication that they're including Oculus in that mix (we've asked and will update when we hear either way). But if you're looking for a silver lining to this deal, this might be it: the potential to have Minecraft the way it was always meant to be played, and was otherwise never going to be.