This one is a bit … out there. In 2012 a seemingly official Taiwan Minecraft website and server cluster was set up in that country. It charged for access, ran microtransactions and generally operated how you would expect the East Asian port of an online title to go down. The only issue was it wasn’t official. In fact it was a cracked server, overcharging customers for ludicrous profit in the six-figures USD. When they were found out by players within the country, Taiwan Minecraft attempted to sue them for defamation.
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Those players made it to an unofficial help channel on IRC in 2014 and explained the troubles they were having, including problems contacting Mojang. The operator there, tyteen4a03 of Hong Kong, began to investigate and wrote up a report for Mojang, who they had some personal contact with. Two years later, tyteen has revealed all on Reddit in the wake of the server being shutdown by law enforcement.
TWMC, as the company behind the server is known, was distributing cracked copies of the game, with malicious code inserted to give them more control over players and the ability to shutdown their computers. To protect themselves they pretended to be an official Mojang partner and even registered the Minecraft trademark in Taiwan. Not knowing it was happening, Mojang weren’t there to contest so the trademark was granted. When it was brought up, MCTW would claim that they were paying or negotiating with Mojang.
This is all via tyteen4a03’s Reddit post and attached full report from 2014. When Mojang were informed they started to take legal action, leading to the two year battle that ended yesterday with the closure of the server.
Marc Watson, who works on the Realms team now but was part of the squad that started the process back in 2014, posted a reply with his recollections of the events. He also explains how this sort of thing happens, particularly in Asia, and how difficult it can be to get accurate information you can act on, saying that “Asia can be a dark zone for western markets: we often don’t hear much from it, and we often don’t fully understand what we hear.”
TWMC it seems are carrying on. They host a free server for the game, and are making their own Minecraft clone called TWMC v2.0, at least according to tyteen4a03. We’ve asked Mojang for any further comment on the matter, but honestly we’re not sure what they could possibly say.