Microsoft’s Minecraft to Ban NFTs on Game Servers, Derivative NFT Projects – Decrypt

In brief

  • Hit game Minecraft will block the use of NFTs and blockchain technology on its servers.
  • Microsoft’s game will also bar the creation of NFT projects based on its assets.

Minecraft is one of the world’s most popular games, and publisher Microsoft’s sandbox-style affair has only grown since its initial 2009 launch. But developer Mojang isn’t keen on seeing its blocky hit used in conjunction with independent NFT projects, and has served public notice that Minecraft will soon ban use of the technology.

The Microsoft-owned studio today shared a news post regarding upcoming changes to its Minecraft usage guidelines, and they’re all about NFTs. Minecraft will soon ban blockchain tech on game servers, which are run independently by fans and creators, plus it will prohibit the use of Minecraft imagery to create NFT projects.

“To ensure that Minecraft players have a safe and inclusive experience, blockchain technologies are not permitted to be integrated inside our client and server applications, nor may Minecraft in-game content such as worlds, skins, persona items, or other mods, be utilized by blockchain technology to create a scarce digital asset,” the post reads.

Mojang currently allows Minecraft server operators to charge money to access their custom online experiences, but the studio sees NFTs as running counter to the “spirit of Minecraft.” That’s due to NFT scarcity models, in the studio’s view, which can limit the ability for players to access features on certain servers.

“The speculative pricing and investment mentality around NFTs takes the focus away from playing the game and encourages profiteering, which we think is inconsistent with the long-term joy and success of our players,” the post adds.

Mojang noted that some independent Minecraft servers allow the use of NFTs that represent in-game items, or provide NFT rewards for players. Additionally, there are projects that have turned Minecraft assets into NFT collectibles, such as the Polygon-based NFT Worlds, which sells virtual land plots that can be used on a custom Minecraft server.

According to data from CryptoSlam, NFT Worlds has generated nearly $163 million worth of NFT trading volume to date. In a tweet today, NFT Worlds co-founder ArkDev noted that the team is trying to determine how to proceed in the wake of the impending Minecraft rules shift.

“We are working to figure out to what extent this will [affect] us and also have potential pivots planned in the absolute worst case that keeps us going,” he wrote. “We’re not leaving.”

On the NFT Worlds Discord server, the team noted past interactions with Minecraft’s developers and suggested that a “pivot” for the project was a possibility.

“We are as blindsided as you are,” the message reads. “We have talked with Minecraft’s IP department multiple times in the past. They have never clearly indicated that anything we were doing was going to be ruled on/restricted (other than existing EULA items, which we complied with for the entirety of the project, such as our stance on advertising/IP within the game).”

“I know this is extreme cause for concern in the community, and it is for us too,” the NFT Worlds message continues. “But we’re currently [considering] all options, and will do our best to figure out another option going forward, even if that’s a pivot.”

Notable crypto industry figures have commented on the news. Chris Dixon, general partner at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, tweeted, “Good reminder of why you shouldn’t build on corporate-owned (Web2) networks. They change the rules on developers on a whim.”

An NFT is a blockchain token that represents ownership in an item. Often they’re used for digital goods like artwork, profile pictures, collectibles, and video game items. The NFT market grew significantly over the course of 2021, ultimately yielding $25 billion in trading volume.

While the Minecraft team currently has no intention of integrating blockchain technology, Mojang wrote that it may reconsider its stance in the future.

“We will also be paying close attention to how blockchain technology evolves over time to ensure that the above principles are withheld and determine whether it will allow for more secure experiences or other practical and inclusive applications in gaming,” the post notes.

No timeline has been set for the impending NFT-related rules change. In April, a number of Mojang developers independently launched a petition to ask game creators to pledge not to use NFTs. The petition didn’t gain a lot of traction however: it had just 72 signees in the first week, and just 430 in total as of July 11, per the website.

Interestingly, Microsoft has actually released official NFTs tied to Minecraft. In February 2021, just as the NFT market started heating up, the company partnered with blockchain gaming firm Enjin to provide free NFTs as part of a tie-in to International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Those NFTs could be used on Enjin’s MyMetaverse server for Minecraft.

It’s currently unclear whether Microsoft will still allow Enjin’s plug-in—which allows servers to enable NFT-based items—to function following the rules change. Decrypt reached out to representatives from Microsoft’s Xbox division for comment but did not immediately hear back.

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