Minecraft may not have made any big splashes at E3 2014 this year, but Mojang did make a pretty big announcement regarding the monetization of Minecraft servers. The Sweden-based studio has refrained from going in detail about this subject before, but has now released an official set of rules for administrators to abide by if they wish to offset server costs with monetization. Previously, the only official way to make money off of Minecraft was from monetizing YouTube videos featuring the game, so this is big news for those who like to play online.
The official posting came from Owen Hill, the official ‘ Chief Word Officer’ of Mojang Studios. It begins with stating that monetization is allowed, so long as servers follow a strict set of rules imposed by Mojang – though it will likely depend on community involvement for monitoring these policies. Owen states that administrators completely have the right to charge gamers for access to private servers, but each player on the server must be charged an equal amount – there can be no different ‘tiers’ to charging players for server access.
Servers can also accept donations, which is something plenty popular online servers routinely ask for already. Gamers may not have game features restricted for not donating, and the usual practice of thanking donors either in-game or publicly is acceptable. Administrators can also provide in-game advertising and sponsorship opportunities for their server, allowing groups or companies to pay for the right to advertise within a server. Mojang simply states to ‘use this within reason’, which will no doubt prompt plenty of questions for such an open-ended rule. Suffice to say, there are plenty of ways to advertise in Minecraft, and a followup post will likely be required to explain which ways will be acceptable by Mojang’s standards.
Server administrators also aren’t allowed to charge real-life cash for in-game currency. Seeing as plenty of roleplaying servers have their own commerce modifications installed, this would be the most obvious way for servers to try and gouge money out of their users – it’s a good call for Mojang to put a block on that, as server-to-server economies could wildly fluctuate and inflation could negatively impact a player’s experience.
Currency aside, servers will be allowed to sell in-game items as long as those items don’t affect gameplay. For example, selling cosmetic items like pet chickens, hats or particle affects would be completely fine, but swords, potions or a man-eating pig would wouldn’t be allowed. As an exception to this rule, capes aren’t allowed to be sold at all – Mojang makes them for special members of the community and have asked that servers completely refrain from manually involving them. Seeing that plenty of private servers frequently use capes, it’ll be interesting to see if these warnings begin to be heeded.
To recap, here’s the quick dos-and-don’ts behind the monetization of Minecraft servers:
- Administrators can charge for access to server (as long as each player is charged the same)
- Administrators can ask for donations (but give no preferential treatment or rights based on these donations)
- Administrators can provide in-game advertising or sponsorship opportunities
- Administrators can sell in-game cosmetic items which don’t affect gameplay (but not capes)
- Administrators cannot charge real-life cash for in-game currency
What do you think about the monetization of these servers? Are these guidelines good, or would you do things differently? Would you pay to access amazingly creative servers?
Follow John Jacques on Twitter @Makelevi.