Hosts of popular Minecraft servers have been in uproar this past week over a proposed change to the game’s EULA, to the effect that nobody can make money from Minecraft without Mojang’s express permission. Voices in various corners of the community worried aloud that they’d no longer be able to afford to maintain their services, and wasted no time giving Mojang lengthy and colourful explanations of their concerns.
The developers have responded with what was missing: a clear breakdown of what is and isn’t an acceptable way to make money in Minecraft. While stricter measures are to be enforced, they’re not so broad or un-nuanced as first feared.
Mojang chief word officer Owen Hill said the rules are designed to prevent Minecraft servers becoming “pay-to-win”.
“We hate the idea of server hosts restricting Minecraft’s features to players who have already bought our game! It seems really mean,” he said, not unreasonably.
“We’re hoping that these rules will give hosts opportunity to continue creating awesome Minecraft worlds, and for our players to enjoy them without being forced to spend.”
Legally speaking, Minecraft videos are the only way players have been allowed to make money from Mojang’s game to date - though the developers have never been proactive about shutting down servers using payment systems they’re unhappy with.
Now, they’re making a legal exception for servers which stick to the rules they’ve laid out. Mojang acknowledge that keeping servers running can be an expensive business, and hosts need to be able to cover their costs - but they want to ensure players aren’t “exploited” or frustrated in the process.
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So: hosts are allowed to charge players for entry to their server - as long as everybody’s paying the same price. And they’re permitted to accept donations, so long as there’s no “preferential treatment” involved.
In-game advertising and sponsorship is also okay, as is selling cosmetic items that aren't capes. Mojang want capes to remain the preserve of Minecon attendees and notable community members.
What isn’t okay is asking players to pay for “swords, invincibility potions, and man-eating pigs” to remain competitive, or charging real-world cash for in-game currency.
Oh: and “don’t pretend to be us”.
“Provide your customers with loads of info,” decreed Hill. “If you do decide to monetise your server, you must clearly state that the purchase is not associated with Mojang, declare who the money is going to, and provide a purchase history and contact details.”
Got all that? I’ve visited Minecraft servers that have demonstrated the very worst free-to-play tendencies, so it doesn’t seem especially untoward to dissuade hosts from that sort of behaviour.