One of the most popular games of all time, Minecraft declared today that it won’t support NFTs on its servers. Gaming has been touted as a potential use case for NFTs, so the Microsoft-owned game’s stance on blockchain technology could have serious ramifications for such developers.
“NFTs are not inclusive of all our community and create a scenario of the haves and the have-nots,” Minecraft wrote on its website. “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.”
As developer Mojang Studios alluded to in its note, some companies have already attempted to build businesses selling Minecraft NFTs. The Polygon-based NFT Worlds is the most prominent example of this, selling NFTs of virtual land that can be used in custom Minecraft servers.
NFT Worlds explains on its website: “Currently using Minecraft and its sprawling open-source ecosystem, NFT Worlds builds on the backbone of a decades worth of open source development within the Minecraft community.” The project also built play-to-earn games, which pay out their own cryptocurrency $WRLD for every thirty minutes you play.
In the last twenty-four hours, the price floor of NFT Worlds has dropped about 66%.
“This out of nowhere announcement by Microsoft/Minecraft to outright ban all possible uses of NFTs & blockchain tech within Minecraft feels like a step backwards in innovation and may even have painful downstream effects for them in the long run,” an NFT Worlds developer wrote in a Discord announcement, which was cross-posted to Twitter.
The NFT Worlds developer said that the first course of action will be to get in touch with Minecraft to understand the reasoning behind their decision, and how they will enforce these policies against their existing platform. If Minecraft won’t budge, they will investigate other options. As explained briefly in the Discord announcement, one option would be for NFT Worlds to run on a game-engine similar to Minecraft. The second option would be to pivot to a “platform as a service” model for other developers to iterate on their existing tech.
“As soon as the Minecraft news was announced, we’ve had multiple other metaverse/gamefi projects immediately reaching out to us wanting to use this tech we’ve already proven, strongly kickstarting possible adoption of such a platform,” NFT Worlds’ note reads.
In an increasingly volatile crypto market, some non-crypto-native gaming companies have taken steps back from their web3 investments. Ubisoft launched a blockchain-based game last year called Quartz, which has performed pretty badly so far. Plus, the catastrophic, $625 million Axie Infinity hack remains front of mind.
This hack-prone, speculative nature of blockchain-based gaming seems to be rendering Minecraft bearish on the space. Yet despite the game’s stance, some language in its letter seems a bit wavering, not closing the door forever on blockchain technology.
“We will also be paying close attention to how blockchain technology evolves over time […] to determine whether it will allow for more secure experiences or other practical and inclusive applications in gaming,” Minecraft said. “However, we have no plans of implementing blockchain technology into Minecraft right now.”
So, to borrow some lingo from crypto Twitter, Minecraft is NGMI.