Worse Than EA? Notch Addresses Minecraft's New Rules on Premium Servers

"Mojang does not exist to make as much money as possible for the owners," says Markus Persson.

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There was a great deal of criticism directed at Minecraft maker Mojang recently for its stance on charging for servers. Although the matter has since been handled to the satisfaction of many, Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson has addressed the situation and explained that Mojang's solitary goal is not to "make as much money as possible."

The situation began when one of Minecraft's developers, Erik Broes, responded to a question earlier this month by pointing out that the game's EULA precludes anyone from making money off of it. This raised concerns over the common practice of server owners charging players for access--something which has been a critical component of the game for some time now for many players. Having made an exception to the EULA previously when it allowed players to charge money for Minecraft videos, Mojang decided to add another exception late last week, officially allowing server owners to monetize their servers.

In a post on his personal blog, Notch explained, "Mojang does not exist to make as much money as possible for the owners." Whereas publicly held companies have to serve their shareholders--typically by making as much money as possible--Notch is in the unique position of being able to declare this for Mojang as its majority shareholder. He said that there have been opportunities to cash in on the game that were "of course very tempting, but at the end of the day we choose to do what either makes the most sense for our products, or the things that seem like fun for us at Mojang."

"Mojang does not exist to make as much money as possible for the owners." -- Minecraft creator Markus Persson

Discussing the way certain servers have been handled before now, Notch said, "Some privately run Minecraft servers do charge for in-game items, for xp boosts, for access to certain game modes. 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."

Under the new rules, which were further outlined today, there are certain restrictions--for instance, you can't charge for items that affect gameplay or restrict certain aspects of the game to paying players. You can, however, run advertisements and accept donations, but may not charge for in-game currency.

Notch acknowledged the controversy that emerged when Broes made his statement on Twitter, saying, "A lot of people voiced their concerns. A few people got nasty. Someone said we're literally worse than EA." He linked EA's name to a section of the Wikipedia page for The Sims 3 detailing the copious number of expansion packs that the publisher has released.

"We had discussions about it internally, and eventually had a big meeting where we said that yes, people running servers are a huge part of what makes Minecraft so special, and that they need to be able to pay for the servers. So we came up with all sorts of ways this could be done without ruining the 'you don't pay for gameplay' aspect of Minecraft we all find so important."

"There are new rules," he continued. "These are new exceptions to the EULA. All of these make the rules more liberal than things were before."

On Twitter, he added, "Also for people who can read between the lines: if you're doing something that lawyers don't like, don't draw attention to it."

Minecraft has been wildly successful on every platform it's been released for, selling upwards of 15 million units on PC, 12 million on Xbox 360, 21 million on iOS and Android, and 1 million on PlayStation 3. Mojang plans to release the game on even more platforms, with Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita versions in the works.

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