Ok I will explain.
The value to Microsoft is in:
- licensing deals. All those toys, t-shirts, mugs, and tv/movie potentials.
- further customer base. There's always more kids reaching the age when they want it. In fact, it's a supply of new customers that never ends.
- advertising. Forums, web front ends, gaming events. All with opportunity for Microsoft to self-advertise or sell space.
- Branding. Kids start to associate Microsoft with something they see as very cool. If Microsoft do Minecraft, then perhaps those other MS products like Windows mobile and Xbox are worth a try.
- Invester confidence. Microsoft getting further into an expanding market helps confidence and share price.
- Player base. They now have a vast amount of gaming subscriber detail. Who bought the game and when. Who gets updates. Who are active. This information can be used to improve future marketing target, direct advertising and development choices across different platform and product groups.
This world is about so much more than selling game units. Thats the tip of the (/sand block/) Minecraft pyramid of opportunity.