I just read your blog post ‘Literally worse than EA‘ and would like to clarify the community’s concerns about the new EULA guidelines from the perspective of a multiplayer server owner. I know you’ve been getting a lot of angry comments over email & Twitter and, as someone who is also frustrated with the process Mojang has been following in the last few weeks, am hoping that this letter will help you understand the arguments behind the emotion.
The multiplayer community 1) feels that these new rules are unjust to servers that Mojang has for years given encouragement and permission to develop and operate custom gameplay experiences financed through fair revenue models and 2) sees that these rules risk killing gameplay innovation in the multiplayer space.
Your blog post states: “These are new exceptions to the EULA. All of these make the rules more liberal than things were before.” While that may be true from a legal standpoint, in practice it’s simply not true.
In the original EULA for Minecraft, you explicitly stated players could create and sell content for the game – “Plugins for the game also belong to you and you can do whatever you want with them, including selling them for money.” Many of the current large networks and modders starting developing for Minecraft when that was the only document in effect.
Having a completely open platform meant that there was unlimited potential for content to be created and modified into new and exciting gaming experiences. In the last few years, players have done that and then some. YouTubers have been creating awesome video content, modders have been creating awesome single-player experiences, and server networks have been creating awesome multiplayer games using Minecraft as a platform.
Somewhere along the line, your values around having a completely open platform changed, and Mojang put up that “huge EULA”. However, even then, Mojang didn’t come out and tell everyone that you didn’t like the large multiplayer servers that were springing up, you continued to endorse and support us. One example of many clear indications that you supported our servers and business models was that Mojang has invited us onto panels and to exhibit booths at Minecon. Last year included a panel called ‘Running a Server‘ that talked about how to run a professional multiplayer server and where revenue models were explicitly discussed.
I personally discussed our rank system with a member of your business team at Minecon last year and he confirmed we were in compliance with the EULA. The only rule was to not sell Mojang IP (ie. selling access to a diamond sword), which none of the large networks do.
Looking at the revenue models Mojang has proposed, there are both economic and experiential issues with all of them. We will either not be able to sustain our revenue to be able to keep up with our costs, or we will need to become so focused on developing cosmetic revenue-driving items that we will ruin the experience for our players. We serve millions of players a month, and with that comes substantial costs: servers, ddos mitigation, chat filters, website costs – most of which are on annualized contracts that we locked into. In your blog you mention “Mojang has people working with business contracts, taxes, support, lawyering and office management, but most people make games.” We have those exactly same people Notch, and they need to be paid fair salaries for their work.
I have asked people to leave their jobs to come work for Mineplex full-time, as I know is the case at the majority of the other large server networks. I can not, or rather will not, fire those people to try conform to rules that I truly believe will do nothing but harm us, Mojang, and the Minecraft community as a whole.
You have said a few times that these new rules are not designed to kill private multiplayer servers, but what you are doing will, and the revenue models you’ve proposed just don’t work.
“1) You are now allowed to charge players to access your servers”
You’ve spoken out against the P2W model that seems far too prevalent in the gaming industry today, an opinion I agree with – there shouldn’t be too far of a separation of experience for paying vs. non-paying players, especially when using an open platform like Minecraft. However, that is EXACTLY what you’re encouraging here. Now not only will players who don’t want to pay not be able to have access to every custom-built feature or gameplay experience, they won’t have access to any of them because they won’t be able to get into the server in the first place.
“2) You may ask for donations but cannot offer a reward in exchange, beyond a “thank you” in-game chat message thanking the donor publicly.”
This has been proven to not provide even close to the revenue needed to run a medium to large size network multiple times. The most recent example I’ve heard of was when the fine gentlemen over at Mindcrack tried this model for 6 months and simply could not maintain costs.
“3) You are allowed to provide in-game advertising opportunities, sponsorships, or product placement.”
This is the proposed ‘solution’ that makes the least sense to me. You’d RATHER have 3-rd party advertisements in our servers? Mineplex is currently the largest multiplayer server, we’d stand to make the most revenue from a model like this. But I will never implement this because it would be a terrible in-game experience for our players – many of whom are young enough that I wouldn’t be comfortable shoving ads at on moral grounds.
“4) You are allowed to sell anything which does not affect gameplay, except for Capes”
I think the fundamental disagreement here is what servers are selling. Mineplex, as well as the other major networks (Hypixel, Shotbow, Oc.tc, Hive, etc.), all understand that you do not want Minecraft to become a pay-to-win game. But none of us have a revenue model focused on pay-to-win. While many of our ranks/kits give access different abilities in game, they are balanced classes. The default starting classes are no better or worse than the ones you can earn through play or by paying for rank. It’s just a different customized experience, they all have pros/cons and are not a guaranteed win in a minigame – you are not paying to win, you’re just paying for a different experience – amongst other cosmetic rank benefits.
Ranked players receive no gameplay benefit over any other player, outside of a change in gameplay style. None of us have a model where any player would be ‘forced’ to pay to continue playing or to win a game, period.
Not just killing us, killing multiplayer innovation.
Outside of the massive split between paying and non-paying players that would be created with an access model, a larger problem would be that these guidelines would kill innovation in the multiplayer space.
If servers only charge for cosmetic items, then the focus of their development is going to be on cosmetic items instead of focusing on the much more important gameplay aspects of their servers. The value of our networks has always been that we have brought unique, interesting, and engaging gameplay content to Minecraft. This will harm the servers who won’t be able to bring in enough income, the YouTubers who will lose new content to play on for their subscribers, and the players who will have less interesting games to play.
Lastly, players will be much less likely to invest time and money into new multiplayer servers and game development if they don’t think they will have the same chance to get paid to do this full time.
You must see why this looks like your lawyers were just building in a legal kill-switch, leaving us to grow large (helping to grow the Minecraft player-base to the size it is now), and then waiting until you had your own multiplayer service to execute the kill-switch and try have us shut down so players would have to come use Realms. I don’t know that I personally believe this, but that is one of the rationales being thrown around because server owners are trying to understand the motives behind the recent changes in policy and the unwillingness of Mojang to discuss and compromise on those changes.
“Once YouTube and streaming got bigger, we added specific exceptions saying you can totally monetize video content about the game.”
This concept is a major reason you’re seeing such a backlash to the changes from the general Minecraft multiplayer community. Server networks are adding our own content to the game in much the same way the YouTube community is. While we understand you don’t want players to have to pay twice for Minecraft, we are not trying to profit on vanilla Minecraft – players come to our servers to play custom made games (Dragon Escape, Mega Walls, MineZ, etc.). These are now massive game types being used by servers all over the world, and they would never have been created if the large networks behind them couldn’t afford to pay developers to spend so much time creating them.
We have always felt like we were partners, we were taking your open platform and creating a second tier of customized content to keep players engaged and interested in Minecraft. It is hard for servers that have put so much time and effort into MC to see you guys using language that imply you have merely been putting up with us rather than valuing our contribution.
It is disappointing and disheartening to feel like Mojang does not see the incredible value of servers that are adding so much content to the game and keeping players engaged and interested in it. Last year we were described as the ‘second tier of content’ to Minecraft, that is the value we have always been seeking to provide.
We have millions of players hitting our servers every single month to play our custom games. I’d have thought that Mojang could see the same value in our custom games as they see in the YouTubers who are adding content to the gameplay experience and being able to do that full time through a proper revenue model. Especially as much of their content focuses on our custom gamemodes, mods, etc., most of which could only be created with the time and resources our models provide.
I hope that this post has given you some perspective on the other side of this debate, and that it has come across in the spirit it was intended.