The July 2022 announcement that Minecraft planned to ban the use of NFTs on player-run servers sent a shockwave through the Web3 world.
Nearly a year later, however, that planned action has yet to take effect—but it’s still coming.
Microsoft-owned game developer Mojang issued a news post last summer saying that it would update the game’s usage guidelines to spell out specific restrictions regarding the use of NFTs, or unique assets tokenized on the blockchain. Broadly, Mojang wrote that “integrations of NFTs with Minecraft are generally not something we will support or allow.”
Since then, however, Minecraft’s guidelines still haven’t been updated, and there’s been no follow-up announcement.
But a Microsoft representative confirmed to Decrypt this week that “the update to the official guidelines is still forthcoming and the policy hasn’t changed.”
Minecraft’s expected ban announcement came last year in the wake of unofficial and community-driven Web3 projects built around Mojang’s long-running game, which Microsoft said had 141 million monthly active players across all devices as of 2021.
Taking aim at token-gating
Mojang said specifically that it would ban the use of NFT assets in ways that “gate” or restrict access to certain content or features on fan-operated game servers.
Mojang allows players to charge for access to servers, but such features must be available to everyone to purchase. With NFTs, there could be features limited to a small set of asset owners.
“Each of these uses of NFTs and other blockchain technologies creates digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together,” Mojang wrote after citing usage examples. “NFTs are not inclusive of all our community and create a scenario of the haves and the have-nots.”
“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 added.
Furthermore, the post said that Minecraft would ban the creation of third-party NFT assets that are based around any official game assets. The planned moves impacted third-party Web3 projects that had been built around Minecraft servers.
Most notable among them was NFT Worlds, a project on Ethereum scaling network Polygon that sold customizable land plots as NFTs, with plans to build out a dedicated Minecraft server that utilized them. That project’s creators pivoted and changed the project to Topia, an original game that is still visibly inspired by Minecraft but is apparently “built from scratch.”
Interestingly, Microsoft itself released NFTs tied to Minecraft in February 2021, launching a series of digital collectibles to celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Those NFTs were launched in association with crypto gaming startup Enjin, and could be used within the game via an Enjin-created plugin.