A year ago, in July 2022 Minecraft announced that Mojang would ban the use of NFTs (unique digital assets tokenized on the blockchain) on player-run servers to allow users “to all have the same content”, the announcement startled the Web3 world so much so, that people questioned if Bill Gates had been pulling strings from behind the curtains. But the plan has yet to take effect, even after almost a year.
The game developer, Mojang, stated that they would update Minecraft’s guidelines to restrict the use of NFTs. They mentioned that they generally do not support or allow integrating NFTs with Minecraft. Despite this announcement, the guidelines have not been updated, and no further news exists. The initial plan to ban NFTs in Minecraft came as a response to unofficial Web3 projects that were created around the game.
Microsoft claimed that Minecraft had 141 million monthly active players across all devices in 2021. Mojang’s concern is primarily focused on NFTs being used to restrict access to certain content or features on player-operated game servers. While players are allowed to charge for server access, any features or content must be available to all players for purchase. NFTs could potentially introduce features that are limited to a small group of asset owners, creating a divide between players.
After listing usage examples, Mojang wrote, “Each of these implementations of NFTs and other blockchain technology establishes digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which is inconsistent with Minecraft principles of creative inclusion and playing together. “NFTs do not include every member of our community and produce a scenario of the wealthy and the poor.”
They said “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”. Mojang also said it would pay “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.”
It’s worth noting that Microsoft itself released NFTs tied to Minecraft in February 2021. These digital collectibles were created in partnership with a crypto-gaming startup called Enjin and could be used within the game through a plugin developed by Enjin.
The future of NFTs and gaming is a sensitive topic for many game studios, including Mojang. With the launch of its NFT platform for its most popular titles late last year, French game publisher Ubisoft grabbed headlines. This platform would enable users to buy in-game items using NFTs. However, the release received harsh criticism from both players and Ubisoft staff, and the firm shut down the platform in April.
Other studios, like Mojang, are being prompted to change their minds by recent experiences of game developers using blockchain technology. Axie Infinity, a massively popular “play-to-earn” game powered by NFTS and cryptocurrency, experienced a phishing hack earlier in the year that cost $540 million. Frost Giant Studios’ cofounder Tim Morten stated that NFTs in the gaming industry were on the verge of being a “pyramid scheme” in March.