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Mojang's New Terms for Server Monetization

Posted by Nick Admin, 16 June 2014 · 4726 views

mojang terms eula server monetization perks packages donations money income pay-to-win pay2win cosmetic convenience agreement
So, the Minecraft community has been in a bit of a frenzy lately over Mojang's new Terms for server monetization.  I'm still not quite sure what to think of it yet.  There are a lot of things to be considered and many different ways to interpret it.  And not to mention, the actual legal Terms aren't even posted yet.  But I'm going to discuss some points that I agree with and some that I disagree with, just to put my personal opinion out there.

No More Pay-to-Win
I completely agree that servers shouldn't have pay-to-win packages.  I feel that it just completely ruins the game.  Is it fun to overpower every other player just because you paid for some sort of ultra-effective armor and omnipotent weapon?  No, not in my opinion at least.  And it's certainly not going to be fun for the unfortunate newcomers on the server who would just be getting constantly slaughtered until they start pouring money into it (hopefully they don't!).

I don't think that's a good business model -- making money based on the fact that someone was or will be unhappy.  A player who has never purchased anything on a specific server should have just as good of a chance of winning a properly prepared for battle as someone who has purchased something.

Beyond Vanilla
Anything that isn't included in vanilla Minecraft should be open to monetization in any way a server sees fit, under one simple stipulation: no pay-to-win packages.  As an example, convenience features such as giving a player more inventory space beyond the original 36 inventory slots should be acceptable.  A player with expanded inventory space does not have a competitive advantage, they're simply able to carry more items.

Cosmetic Only is Too Drastic
Adding on to my previous points, I feel that "cosmetic only" is far too limiting in terms of what we can do.  Not only does it hurt innovation and competition, but a lot of players simply won't buy in.  Some still will, of course, but it will almost certainly not be enough to support a large server network that requires anywhere from 10 to 100+ machines and a team of a few to a dozen or more developers.  "Cosmetic only" would likely mean a loss of jobs for a fair amount of developers.

Imprecise Terms, Grey Areas
I feel that a lot of the changes and Terms that were discussed so far are extremely imprecise -- they're open to interpretation in many different ways; something that's not good for something as important as this.  I feel like there are a lot of grey areas right now, and that needs to be resolved with completely proper legal Terms.

Providing Information
Another section that I completely agree with, servers should be providing more information to players who are considering purchasing a package.  Some people may feel it's completely obvious that multiplayer servers aren't run by Mojang, but to a parent, it's just money being spent on "Minecraft" unless they're told otherwise.  I understand that this is a big issue for Mojang, and I truly feel sorry that they have to deal with it -- no company should have to feel the wrath of another company's angry customers due to a simple misunderstanding.

Servers should have their own proper Terms of Sale, and it should be presented during checkout, asking children to have their parents read all of the necessary information.  Servers need to ensure that they provide a way to be contacted with each transaction, and should ensure that the transaction shows up properly on the bank/credit card statement with the server's name.

With that said, some children will still ignore these notices, and some will even go as far as to take their parents' credit card without asking.  Unfortunately, there's nothing Mojang or the servers can do in these cases, as it's up to the parents to monitor their children's online activity and their wallets, and to teach them right from wrong.

Spending Limits
This is one thing that I feel hasn't been covered yet by Mojang, but I feel should be.  Yes, spending limits.  I've seen servers trying to sell ranks in costing anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.  That's just insane, not to mention exploitative!  A full new game generally only costs $60 on launch day, maybe a bit more if you get a special edition.  I feel that there should be a limit on how expensive a server's packages can be.  This doesn't need to be an explicitly defined limit; it could simply say "be reasonable."

I feel that instead of the draconian Terms that have been proposed, Mojang should implement something a bit more relaxed, giving servers the flexibility to operate in a fair, fun, and profitable way, but also staying aligned to Mojang's core values -- making great games that anyone can enjoy.

I think we'd be at a fair compromise if we could all agree to the following provisions:
  • No pay-to-win packages.
  • Servers must provide adequate information and disclaimers to customers.
  • Servers should be reasonable about the pricing of their packages.

This effectively eliminates many large grey areas, would be much more agreeable to everyone involved, safeguards players from being economically exploited by servers, and ensures continued innovation and success in the Minecraft multiplayer community.

Note: I'll probably be updating this over the next few days as I see and think of more points to discuss.

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