2 min read

Minecraft bans NFTs

Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, published an article recently stating...

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

Yikes. Unfortunately, these kinds of bans on blockchain are not uncommon. Merely mentioning interest or plans to incorporate blockchain tech in your products can result in public backlash. It's become fashionable to decry the technology as a means of staying in the public's good graces.

That said, public opinion is not unfounded. While blockchain technology is highly useful and not evil, it is rife with scams and is difficult to navigate for most people.

Let's dig into some specifics of the Minecraft ban.

Mojang's reasons

First off, they do a good job of explaining what NFTs are, but miss the point by a bit:

The purchase of an NFT provides the token that states the ownership of the original digital file. Yet, with any digital file, that file can be copied, moved, or even deleted.

NFTs are about verifiable ownership. The fact that the data can be copied isn't a negative in my opinion. Just because you can take a picture of the Mona Lisa does not mean you own it.

uses of NFTs and other blockchain technologies creates digital ownership based on scarcity and exclusion, which does not align with Minecraft values of creative inclusion and playing together

Most NFT projects are based on scarcity, but that's a design choice, not an inherent feature of the technology. Also, scarcity is part of what makes games like Minecraft fun. It takes time and effort to craft a full suit of diamond armor because there's not that many diamonds just lying around. The challenge of seeking out rare items and materials is fun.

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

I agree that speculation on NFTs and cryptocurrency isn't for everyone. This kind of profit motive can definitely kill the fun for some people. At the very least, it does shift some focus off of the actual game. This is the main issue with play-to-earn. You can design NFT/crypto contracts that eliminate a lot of the speculative pricing. Again, it's a design decision, not a requirement.

Some third-party NFT implementations are also entirely dependent on blockchain technology and may require an asset manager who might disappear without notice

This one's a bit confusing, actually. All NFTs are entirely dependent on blockchain. The user is their own asset manager by default. You generally shouldn't let other people/institutions manage your assets, but centralized exchanges and managed wallets will always be a thing.

We will also be paying close attention to 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

Interestingly, Mojang left the door open. This isn't a permanent decision. If we can improve public perception of blockchain and provide better, user friendly solutions that put people over profit, companies like Mojang are still willing to listen.


P.S. This was a bit longer than my usual posts. Let me know if you liked/hated this format.