Minecraft developer Mojang has taken some heavy criticism from players for the game's new end-user license agreement (EULA). This weekend designer Markus "Notch" Persson defended his company with a lengthy blog post.
The new EULA concerns Minecraft servers that are making money off the game. Mojang wants server hosts to be able to cover their costs but they don't want players to be exploited in the process. As a result, Minecraft servers can no longer sell non-cosmetic items for real-world money. These servers also can't lock features behind a pay-wall.
"Some privately run Minecraft servers do charge for ingame items, for xp boosts, for access to certain game modes," Persson said in his blog post. "Some of them even charge quite a lot. I don’t even know how many emails we’ve gotten from parents, asking for their hundred dollars back their kid spent on an item pack on a server we have no control over. This was never allowed, but we didn’t crack down on it because we’re constantly incredibly swamped in other work."
Not everyone responded well to Mojang enforcing these rules. One of these malcontents said that Mojang is "literally worse than EA." Persson dismisses the notion that his company's just a profit-driven corporation, though:
Mojang exists because I got lucky with Minecraft and it got way bigger than I could handle on my own. Mojang has people working with business contracts, taxes, support, lawyering and office management, but most people make games. Mojang exists because we want to have fun businessing contracts, taxing, supporting, lawyeringing, office managing, and most importantly, making games. We make a lot of money because Minecraft is a huge phenomenon and we’ve got extremely passionate and friendly fans who make the game the phenomenon it is, and we’re very fortunate and grateful, but it’s not what drives us.
Server hosts looking to recoup costs still have options, though. They can charge for access, put advertisements in the game world or acquire sponsorships. Donations can be accepted as long as donors aren't given preferential treatment. Any equipment sold through the server have to be purely cosmetic items like "pets, hats and particle effects."
To add my own two cents to the discussion: the idea that Mojang is worse than EA is the sort of zero-brain hyperbole that only the Internet could hope to produce. Mojang is trying to prevent third-party servers from chiseling their players with microtransactions. They're not becoming EA - they're stomping out a thousand little EA's, each trying to turn Minecraft into Dungeon Keeper iOS or some other microtransaction-laden disaster. Mojang has every right to dictate whether or not players can make money off their game. In this situation, I'm glad they're cracking down.