Just typical. We’ve spent the past six years pouring all of Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s profits into the creation of an endless Horace statue stretching far beyond the Far Lands in Minecraft and now we’ll need to blow it all up. That’s because Mojang have updated their commercial guidelines to say that it’s no longer acceptable for companies to “build or commission others to build, a Minecraft mod, map or server that promotes or markets unrelated products or services in playable form.”
This is good news, on the whole. It means Coca Cola can’t pay you to operate a Minecraft server where people scurry in the shadows of totemic Coke bottles. It means that the producers of Transformers: The Last Knight can’t pay to advertise their movie by operating a server in which people scurry in the shadows of totemic busts of Mark Wahlberg’s head. It means some other things described in the full rules, but mainly those two.
The new rules are designed to still allow normal users to build whatever they want, however. If you’re a fan of Marky Mark, then go ahead and create your Transformers-inspired hell dimension for one and all to enjoy (server name: New Kids Made Of Blocks). It’s only a problem if the focus is “to promote or sell that stuff,” and it only affects companies and organisations that would fund that sort of work.
I’ve chosen two particularly crass examples above, but there are potentially more worthy promotions that it sounds as if this will stop. For example, the rules also forbid non-profits from promoting themselves through the game, which forbids museums from building parts of their exhibits within Minecraft. Cutting that out seems a good thing in the case of the Tate’s awful work, but perhaps less so in other instances. The new rules will also prevent charities doing lots of different work within Minecraft, such as this amazing build promoting the issue of bee depopulation. I’m all for Minecraft being preserved (as much as possible) as a space kids can enjoy free of advertising, but it’s a shame to lose these other kinds of projects at the same time.
At least it won’t affect things like the Eurovision stage recreated in Minecraft, which was i) not created by Eurovision themselves and ii) created by popular builders FyreUK in partnership with Mojang.
In short: we now officially can’t pay you to build an endless Horace statue in Minecraft, but you’re free to do so should you find it necessary.
Disclosure: I used to work with and am friends with two of Mojang’s writery folk, Owen Hill and Marsh Davies. Owen gave me some useful advice recently about Overwatch heroes. Thanks Owen!