Minecraft blocks the blockchain from its block game

Crypto projects built on top of <em>Minecraft</em>, like NFT Worlds, have been left scrambling by Mojang's decision.
Enlarge / Crypto projects built on top of Minecraft, like NFT Worlds, have been left scrambling by Mojang’s decision.

Minecraft will continue to be about blocks and not about the blockchain. That’s according to a new official blog post from Microsoft subsidiary Mojang stressing that “integrations of NFTs with Minecraft are generally not something we will support or allow.”

While players have long been able to charge for access to private Minecraft servers they control, the company’s usage guidelines stress that “all players should have access to the same functionality” in those servers. That’s in conflict with the main point of NFTs, which Mojang characterizes as “digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together.”

Aside from those kinds of philosophical problems, Mojang also expresses concerns about “instances where NFTs were sold at artificially or fraudulently inflated prices” and situations where NFT assets “may require an asset manager who might disappear without notice.” These kinds of issues mean that “some third-party NFTs may not be reliable and may end up costing players who buy them,” Mojang warns.

As such, Mojang writes that “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.” That move comes just weeks after Mojang announced that it has started banning abusive players from all online play, including private servers.

Mojang leaves a sliver of a door open for future NFT applications that might “allow for more secure experiences or other practical and inclusive applications in gaming.” However, the company has “no plans of implementing blockchain technology into Minecraft right now.”

An external rug pull?

Mojang’s announcement is incredibly impactful for projects like NFT Worlds, which sells NFTs linked to the world seeds that are used to create specific Minecraft maps. OpenSea data shows total NFT Worlds trading volume of over 50,000 ETH (worth $76 million at today’s exchange rates) since its launch last October, with individual world tokens selling for an average of around 2.5 ETH (about $3,700 today).

Daily trading in NFT World tokens has been falling for months alongside the wider crypto crash in recent months, however. And the price of the cryptocurrency driving the NFT Worlds project cratered nearly 70 percent immediately following Mojang’s announcement Wednesday.

In a public statement, the leaders of the NFT Worlds project expressed confidence in its future despite what it called an “out of nowhere announcement by Microsoft/Minecraft [that] feels like a step backwards in innovation and may even have painful downstream effects for them in the long run.”

The NFT Worlds team says it is brainstorming next steps and is reaching out to Mojang decision makers to see if “we can find an alternative outcome that’s beneficial to the Minecraft player base as well as Microsoft’s vested interest in blockchain/NFT technology and GameFi.” If an arrangement can’t be found and NFT Worlds is truly banned from interacting with Minecraft, the team says it will “pivot,” either to its own “Minecraft-like game engine & games platform” or to becoming a “GameFi platform as a service” for other studios looking for their own turnkey NFT/metaverse solutions.

“Bottom line, we’re not leaving,” the team writes. “We have the community, we have the warchest, and we know we can build.”

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