Mojang has finally evaluated NFTs in Minecraft, and the official word is: they’re out.
Minecraft is the best-selling PC game of all time, with a vast player base ready to be funneled into an NFT-powered metaverse. But Mojang launched a declaration (opens in new tab) pointing out that the ‘NFT mentality’ detracts from the essence of what the game is. And as a result, there will be no support for them or any blockchain technology in the game.
It also highlights the inherent problem many people have with NFTs. That your value can disappear like a fart in the wind. This is great news at a time when publishers and developers are choosing sides. On the one hand, we have companies like Square Enix adopting NFTs with their recently announced partnership (opens in new tab) with the NFT Enjin ecosystem. And on the other, Mojang telling NFT brothers to bow. And NFT lovers aren’t too happy about it.
Why is Minecraft banning NFTs?
First, it’s important to note the language at play here, which allows room for backtracking somewhere down the line. Mojang says that “NFT integrations with Minecraft are generally not something we will support or allow.” Implying that there may be some exceptions.
Not wanting to close the door on future opportunities, it adds that it will be “paying close attention to how blockchain technology evolves over time to ensure the above principles are retained and to determine whether it will enable safer experiences or other inclusive gaming practices and applications.” “
But for now, it’s not on the table, for a few reasons. The first is that it goes against inclusivity, with Mojang feeling that it creates “a haves and have-nots scenario”. Of course, there’s also the financial side of things that get in the way of the entire core gaming experience. “The speculative pricing and investment mindset around NFTs takes the focus away from playing the game and encourages profit, which we find inconsistent with our players’ long-term joy and success.”
The reliability of third-party NFTs is also flagged, which opens players up to being scammed:
“We are also concerned that some third-party NFTs may be unreliable and could end up costing players who buy them. There have also been cases where NFTs were sold at artificially or fraudulently inflated prices.”
And, of course, here’s Mojang pointing out the obvious problems in their breakdown of what NFTs are:
“Purchasing an NFT provides the token that indicates ownership of the original digital file. However, with any digital file, that file can be copied, moved, or even deleted. NFTs and blockchain have also been associated with speculation, where prices are boosted quickly and, as we’ve seen recently, can drop quickly.”
So based on all this reasoning, Minecraft will not be jumping on the NFT bandwagon, stating in no uncertain terms that “Blockchain technologies cannot be integrated into our Minecraft client and server applications nor can they be used to create NFTs associated with any Minecraft content.” game, including worlds, skins, persona items, or other mods.”
Why are NFT supporters disappointed?
Minecraft dropping the hammer on NFTs is a big deal. As metaverses, it’s huge, with access to the malleable little minds of millions of children. And the rest of us adults too, of course. Fortnite is busy creating its own version of this, creating spaces dedicated to more than just battle royale gameplay. But Minecraft has a long-established audience and is prime real estate, so to speak.
The reaction of NFT proponents to the new has been interesting. And, of course, if you’ve invested in technology and built your metaverse projects in Minecraft, you’re definitely wrong on B. Adam McBride, host of the show The Adam McBride, opined about the news in twitter (opens in new tab). And he doesn’t beat around the bush with his verdict.
Microsoft just had its Blockbuster vs Netflix moment. They chose to go with full Blockbuster 📉 And in the process they fumbled with their Web 3 bag. One Topic 🧵 pic.twitter.com/nu4Lo8STQqJuly 20, 2022
The topic is interesting reading, but as he points out in another tweet (opens in new tab), is a “sad day for a lot of friends who thought Microsoft would be cool with this.” Opportunistic money making using games with a large, young audience as a starting point is questionable at best. But this is precisely the problem with NFTs – you can have the rug pulled out from under you at any time. And there is no recourse.
Just look at F1 Delta Time, the official Formula 1 NFT game that ended earlier this year. Some players have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in digital assets that have become absolutely worthless.
NFT fellows on Twitter jumped into the conversation to label Microsoft and Mojang as obtuse and blind to the opportunities NFTs offer.
“Microsoft has almost missed every social/digital paradigm shift in the last 20 years. I’m not surprised by that in the least,” said one (opens in new tab).
“It’s crazy that they don’t see the future. As mentioned, they missed a lot of innovations, but this will be their biggest L”, commented other (opens in new tab).
McBride responds to someone in the thread who speculates that Mojang’s decision may be motivated by “fear of the decentralized aspects or fear of being replaced by new players in the game”.
Someone even put a quote from Ghandi in the chat, which is a bit of a stretch. I’d say he’s bonkers, but he apparently resonated with the NFT crowd, including McBride.
We are here 😉 pic.twitter.com/VAv0pZraFiJuly 20, 2022
Back to his original thread, McBride says that Microsoft “has failed to realize that Minecraft is more than a video game. It’s a Metaverse. One that could be a foundation upon which thousands or even millions of microworlds are built.”
I would say this is definitely not the case. Many games that existed before the term ‘metaverse’ began to be circulated fit this description. And it’s a little weird when you have people like Mark Zuckerberg talking about it like it’s a whole new concept. Like bro, have you ever played an MMO?
Speaking of Zuck, McBride dives into a predatory taking (opens in new tab). “Think how much Meta would have paid to have this kind of port on Web 3. Instead, Zuck is stuck trying to get people to Horizon Worlds. Minecraft has nearly 140 million active users, mostly kids, who don’t know what to do. the metaverse or Web 3 is. Yet.”
He framed this news as Microsoft “fighting Web 3” along with Ghandi’s quote, lamenting that the company is “closing the door on potentially billions of users of a Minecraft metaverse.”
Metaverses can (and do exist) without the need for blockchain, NFTs or play-to-win. Not every video game with a social aspect needs to embrace the technology. When you start to see successful games as a means of making money, especially those with younger players, and want to co-opt that space for play-to-win shenanigans, you’re missing the point a bit.
Minecraft is a metaverse and it’s doing great. Players are already struggling with microtransactions and loot boxes, which are prone to legal scrutiny. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft have already positioned themselves on the latter to prevent any funny business. NFTs will be subject to the same treatment as they become more prevalent, I’m sure. But we just don’t need NFTs in games.