Microsoft to blockheads: NFTs and blockchains aren't welcome in Minecraft
Cites flakiness of NFT community and speculative activity as inimical to the game's goals
Mojang Studios, the Microsoft-owned-and-operated developer of Minecraft, has decided not to allow integration of non-fungible tokens or other blockchain-related tech in the game.
"NFTs and other blockchain technologies create digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together," states a Wednesday post by Mojang staff.
The post notes that third parties have "recently launched NFT implementations that are associated with Minecraft world files and skin packs." Others have considered "creating Minecraft collectible NFTs, allowing players to earn NFTs through activities performed on a server, or earning Minecraft NFT rewards for activities outside the game."
Mojang won't allow any of those activities.
"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."
The post also reports that Mojang is "concerned that some third-party NFTs may not be reliable and may end up costing players who buy them. Some third-party NFT implementations are also entirely dependent on blockchain technology and may require an asset manager who might disappear without notice."
"There have also been instances where NFTs were sold at artificially or fraudulently inflated prices."
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Mojang has therefore decided on the following policy, in the name of creating a "safe an inclusive experience":
Blockchain technologies are not permitted to be integrated inside our Minecraft client and server applications nor may they be utilized to create NFTs associated with any in-game content, including worlds, skins, persona items, or other mods.
That stance isn't necessarily permanent. Mojang states it will keep an eye on "how blockchain technology evolves over time to ensure that the above principles are withheld and determine whether it will allow for more secure experiences or other practical and inclusive applications in gaming."
"However, we have no plans of implementing blockchain technology into Minecraft right now."
Mojang's view of NFTs and other digital assets aligns with that of central banks and financial regulators, who have increasingly warned that blockchain-backed assets have no intrinsic value and represent both a risk to consumers and a threat to the stability of financial systems.
While it's hard to know precisely how many people still play Minecraft, estimates put the number at over 140 million – many of them children who are less able to exercise informed judgement about the value of digital assets than their parents or guardians. Keeping Minecraft free of risk – other than the game's fiendish addictiveness and occasional bad user behavior – is therefore a smart move as the game is an important part of Microsoft's STEM education efforts and reportedly delivers over $400M of revenue each year. ®