Microsoft has been rather generous with free OneDrive storage lately, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Now Redmond is bumping the previous gratis 15GB up by 100 percent, to 30GB. What’s the catch? There isn’t much of one, really. All Redmond says you have to do (regardless of if you’re a new user or seasoned veteran) is activate auto-upload on your device of choice’s camera roll between now and the end of the month — even on a Windows PC. Seems simple enough. The announcement focuses on the storage woes that’ve been associated with upgrading to iOS 8, and given the iPhone 6 Plus‘ fancy video tricks like HD time-lapse capture we’d imagine the off-device storage should come in pretty handy.
Source: The OneDrive Blog
Bad news if you were hoping to pick up an Xbox One in Beijing next week: Microsoft has just delayed the game system’s launch in China from September 23rd to sometime before the end of the year. The company isn’t saying just prompted the last-minute pushback, but it claims that it needs extra time to offer “first rate gaming and entertainment experiences” — in short, something is still pretty rough around the edges. Whatever the reasons, Chinese gamers will have to wait a little while longer to get their first major console since the country lifted its years-long ban on fun-minded machines like this.
Microsoft announced this week that it’s buying hugely popular game franchise Minecraft for $2.5 billion. For that money, Microsoft gets rights to the game and ownership of its Stockholm, Sweden-based development studio, Mojang. It doesn’t retain the company’s founders or Minecraft‘s infamously outspoken creator, Markus “Notch” Persson.
Does that sound like a lot, $2.5 billion? Well, it is in human dollars, but not so much when you’re Microsoft and you’ve got $85 billion in “cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.” Regardless of the fact that this week’s deal only cost Microsoft around 3 percent of that, here’s the real kicker (in the form of a statement from Microsoft): “Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even in FY15 on a GAAP basis.” Woof, that’s a doozy of a sentence right there.
Here’s the translation: Microsoft expects the purchase of Minecraft/Mojang to make it a lot of money. And that is why Microsoft bought Minecraft.
Admittedly, that’s a rough translation of all that Microsoft’s saying in that jargon-filled sentence. And it’s a crucial statement in the several-paragraphs-long press release that announced the deal. So let’s break it down, piece by piece!
A trailer for Minecraft‘s recently released Xbox One version
- “Microsoft expects the acquisition to be break-even …”
This one sounds simple, but there’s a lot of information in there. First and foremost, “Microsoft expects” is a heavily abridged way of saying, “Microsoft lawyers and accountants painstakingly went over the past financials of Mojang and projected earnings for the next two to five years. After doing that work, we expect these results.” Companies don’t “expect” anything they haven’t deliberately calculated. This is not a guess; it’s an equation.
The middle bit — “the acquisition” — is simply referring to the purchase of Minecraft and Mojang for $2.5 billion. Nothing hidden there.
To be break-even” isn’t to say, Minecraft and Mojang will recoup the full $2.5 billion Microsoft spent on the acquisition. Instead, it only has to make about $25 million to make this a “break-even” deal. Why? Well, as reported in Polygon, analyst Michael Patcher pointed out in a talk at Games Beat 2014 that $25 million is about the amount of interest Microsoft could expect to make if it just left that money in the bank. As he puts it:
“Well, $2.5 billion, the interest on that is just $25 million a year. When they say break-even they don’t mean they’re going to get $2.5 billion back. That’s sunk cost, they don’t care. They’re talking about from a GAAP reporting perspective – EPS Microsoft Corporation – they will make more from Minecraft than they lose from not having that money in the bank, generating interest …”
- “… in FY15 …”
Okay, bear with me — this isn’t as complex as it sounds. “In FY15″ directly translates to “in Fiscal Year 2015.” To understand what that means, we have to understand how Microsoft’s fiscal year works (surprise: It’s not the same as the calendar year the rest of us exist in). Microsoft’s fiscal year begins on July 1st and ends on June 30th, every year. Despite it being calendar year 2014, Microsoft’s in fiscal year 2015 right now. So!
If Microsoft is in “FY15″ right now, and the company’s fiscal year ends on June 30th, Microsoft expects to break even on its purchase by June 30, 2015.
Sunrise in a modded version of Minecraft
$25 million in one year is certainly quite a bit less than $2.5 billion, but compared to the $85 billion Microsoft has in cash, $2.5 billion is a relatively small number. Ultimately, Minecraft can pull in more money on that $2.5 billion than Microsoft could if it was just sitting in the bank. And here’s how.
MORE THAN JUST GAMES
Mojang makes a few other games (Scrolls, for instance), but nothing anywhere near as significant (financially or otherwise) as Minecraft. That’s okay: Mojang’s gotten very good at expanding Minecraft into a franchise and property. The game itself is available virtually everywhere. Both Microsoft and Sony dedicated precious press conference time to say the game would arrive on their current game consoles. For a game that originally “launched” in 2011, that’s unheard of. It’s outright something that doesn’t happen.
In the last 24 hours, roughly 7,500 copies sold on PC/Mac: worth around $200,000.
There’s a mobile version on both iOS and Android. You can play it on Fire TV! Sure, why not. It is quite literally available on every major game platform, with the exception of Nintendo’s consoles and the PlayStation Vita (it’s in development). And yes, it is super, super weird that Microsoft will now be the publisher of a game on competing platforms. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer explicitly says in the acquisition announcement that, “We plan to continue to make Minecraft available across platforms — including iOS, Android and PlayStation, in addition to Xbox and PC.”
There aren’t accurate measurements for the game’s sales across all those platforms on an ongoing basis, but the official Minecraft site keeps a statistic of the game’s PC/Mac sales across the past 24 hours (in perpetuity). In the last 24 hours, roughly 7,500 copies sold on PC/Mac: worth around $200,000. That’s approximately $73 million across one year, on just PC/Mac. When I checked last Saturday, it had sold just shy of 15,000 copies in the previous 24 hours.
And that’s to say nothing of merchandising (which there is a considerable amount of), or licensing (also considerable), or the annual convention (appropriately titled MineCon). Also, Microsoft acquires all the financial assets of Mojang in the process. Whatever money Mojang had on-hand goes to Microsoft, and that could be considerable.
A fan wearing the head of Minecraft‘s protagonist, Steve
MINECRAFT’S CULTURAL IMPACT
Anyone who’s been to a mall or walked down a touristy block in Manhattan lately knows the cultural impact of Minecraft: T-shirts and Creeper heads are commonplace at tchotchke stands the world over. More importantly, however, is that millions of children grew up with (and are still growing up with) Minecraft. Its iconic characters (main character/silent protagonist Steve and the hilariously explosive Creeper enemy), distinct visual style and — most of all — unlimited potential for creativity left a lasting impact on both the game industry and a generation of kids.
The next time you attend a Minecraft-themed kids birthday party, think about this acquisition. Minecraft is Mario for millions of kids, and that’s a very big deal. Microsoft stands to make a lot of money as the arbiter of a beloved franchise.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Microsoft expects to earn back the full $2.5 billion it spent in acquiring Minecraft and its maker, Majong. In fact, it only has to break even on the interest that would have been generated by those assets.
Lets say you’re already burned out on Destiny and are looking for something a bit, well, different than what the Xbox One currently has on offer. That might just mean that D4 (short for Dark Dreams Don’t Die), the latest game from the creator of cult-hit Deadly Premonition, could be the relief you didn’t even know you were looking for. It’s one of the scant few Kinect-enabled games releasing soon, too. The episodic title was first teased during Microsoft’s E3 event last year and has gone largely unheard from since. That’s recently changed, as Xbox Wire has an interview with its developer Hidetaka Suehiro, better known as Swery65, ahead of the first installment hitting the Xbox Marketplace today.
What’re you in for? A sort of noir murder-mystery where you can interact with the cel-shaded surroundings either with a controller or Microsoft’s do-all sensor. The latter of which apparently has you “grabbing” one of the characters by her shoulders and pulling her off a kitchen table. If you’ve sold off your old consoles, this’ll have to do for your adventure fix until Telltale’s The Wolf Among Us hits Xbox One.
Source: Xbox Wire
The new, Nadella-controlled Microsoft is already around 13,000 employees lighter than it used to be, and that number is only getting bigger. To wit: The company just confirmed to ZDNet another wave of layoffs that’ll see 2,100 more employees let go as the company fights to reinvent itself. Most of the employees let go the first time around hailed from Nokia, but Microsoft hasn’t said which of its teams are taking the big hits in this new round of cuts.
But why is this happening? Well, there are a few reasons. When Microsoft snapped up Nokia’s devices and services business for around $7 billion, it took on some 25,000 new employees — naturally, some of those people would be made redundant. CEO Satya Nadella’s new Microsoftian vision in an open memo released in July is part of it too. To him, a leaner Microsoft is a smarter, more nimble Microsoft and he’d ultimately like to see “fewer layers of management, both top down and sideways, to accelerate the flow of information and decision making.” When all is said and done, Nadella said the company would cut a total of about 18,000 jobs — this next wave of layoffs is getting him awfully close to that goal, but you’d be wise to expect at least one more batch to make headlines in a few months.
Timed perfectly for this year’s Tokyo Game Show, Square-Enix’s unveiled a new teaser for its next (long in development) Final Fantasy. There’s boyband hairstyles, broody protagonists, big-ass swords… and a fancy car you drive around in. Watch, and wait — FFXV‘s still coming.
We’ll say this about Microsoft’s OneNote team: It’s clear they want to be on every device, even ones you might not be buying. Earlier this year, the company came out with an Amazon application in the wake of some truly awful Fire phone reviews. Now, Microsoft is releasing OneNote for Android Wear, Google’s still-nascent smartwatch platform. Starting today, if you happen to own a Moto 360, Samsung Gear Live or LG G Watch, you can capture a note by saying “OK Google, take a note.”
Meanwhile, OneNote’s other apps have also received updates. With iOS 8 coming out today, iPhone and iPad users can now save clips to the web, as well as save pictures and send file attachments — all without having to leave your current app. (“Extensibility,” as it’s called, is one of the big new features in iOS 8. You’ll probably see lots of apps get similar updates.) Finally, OneNote for Windows Phone will now let you save scanned photos as a Word or PowerPoint file. That’s all you need to know for now, but we’ve included Microsoft’s official blog posts below, where you’ll find download links and maybe a demo video or two.
If yesterday was Microsoft’s day for announcing big news (read: a $2.5 billion acquisition), today is the day it moves on to less pressing topics. The company’s hardware team just unveiled a few new accessories, including a wired Xbox One controller for PC gaming, and a portable Bluetooth keyboard that can pair with three different devices at once. Starting with the controller, this is basically the same one that already ships with the Xbox. In fact, because it comes with a battery pack in the box, you could use it wirelessly with the Xbone, in case you need a second controller. Heck, even the price is the same, at $60. The only difference? It includes a USB cable, allowing you to use it with a Windows PC. Unfortunately, for now, at least, the controller can’t be used wirelessly with a PC. Then again, the last-gen Xbox 360 controller started as wired-only, but later got a dongle, allowing you to use it wirelessly. So maybe Microsoft will follow a similar timetable with the Xbone controller.
Moving on, the Universal Mobile Keyboard ($70) uses Bluetooth to pair with up to three devices. It’ll work with any operating system — not just Windows — but you can only pair with one gadget per OS at a time. Of note: The keyboard portion is detachable, meaning you could leave the tablet propped up in the built-in stand and put the keyboard on your lap. In my hands-on, I found the small buttons surprisingly easy to type on, save for the tiny Delete key. All told, too, the stand is sturdy enough to support some fairly big devices, including the 12-inch Samsung Galaxy Note Pro. Basically, you can use it with any tablet so long as it’s not too thick. That means an iPad with no Smart Cover is OK, but an older-gen Surface Pro probably won’t fit. Finally, Microsoft is also re-releasing its foldable Arc Touch Mouse, except this time it’ll come in gray and won’t have any Surface branding on it. It will still cost $70.
All of the above go on sale this fall, in time for the holiday shopping season, with the keyboard and mouse arriving in October and the controller landing sometime in November. Because no: It is not too early to start thinking about stocking stuffers.
The rumors were true: Microsoft is buying Minecraft developer Mojang for $2.5 billion. Crazy, right? That’s not all that happened today though. Go ahead and spice up your Monday with Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours. You know you want to.
Whether you’re going to miss the Charms bar or not, users likely have a list of things they love (or loath) about Windows 8. We’ve already had a few hints at what to expect in the next version — the classic start menu for example. Now, we have some videos (below) purportedly showing the Windows 9 in action (or, a fairly complete build of it, at least). Some of the more interesting features shown include a revised, (unified) Notification Center, a demonstration of how Multi-Desktop will work, and of course, that beloved start menu. Naturally, all usual caveats apply (things could change, and probably will), but, as Windows 9 creeps further out of the shadows, we’re getting a clearer picture of what sort of user experience we can expect.