Let’s talk server monetisation!

by Owen on June 12, 2014

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Let’s get one thing clear: we love it when Minecrafters host servers. Tiny or massive, running vanilla or modded Minecraft, we think they’re all great. Playing with friends in persistent worlds is awesome. Everyone knows that.

Over the past week there’s been lots of discussion about Minecraft servers and your right to monetise them. Legally, you are not allowed to make money from our products. There has been one exception to this rule so far – Minecraft videos. We’re about to make a second exception – Minecraft servers.

Hosting servers can be expensive. We want to give hosts a way to cover their costs. That said, we don’t want our players to be exploited or to have a frustrating time unless they pay. The following rules, which may be tweaked at a later date, have been created with these points in mind.

You are allowed to charge players to access your server
So long as the fee is the same for all players, you are allowed to charge for access to your server. You are not allowed to split your playerbase into paying, and non-paying users, nor can you restrict gameplay elements to different tiers of player.

Basically, if you’re charging for access to your server, you are selling a “ticket” and there can only be one type of ticket, regardless of how much people are willing to spend.

You are allowed to accept donations
You are allowed to accept donations from players. You can thank them publicly or in-game, but can’t give preferential treatment for donating. You are not allowed to restrict gameplay features in an attempt to make money.

You are allowed to provide in-game advertising or sponsorship opportunities
You are allowed to put adverts in your Minecraft worlds to help with costs. Used within reason, adverts and sponsorship can be appropriate ways to fund a server.

You are allowed to sell in-game items so long as they don’t affect gameplay
We don’t mind you selling items in game, but they must be purely cosmetic. Pets, hats, and particle effects are OK, but swords, invincibility potions, and man-eating pigs are not. We want all players to be presented with the same gameplay features, whether they decide to pay or not.

There is one exception to this rule – capes! We have a lot of fun making cool capes for extra-special members of our community and Minecon attendees. We’d like to keep them as exclusive as possible. So, yeah, no capes please, even if you’re giving them away for free.

You cannot charge real-world cash for in-game currency
We don’t mind in-game currencies which are earned through playing, but you are not allowed to sell them for real-world cash. Remember – if the stuff you sell affects gameplay, we’re not cool with it.

Don’t pretend to be us. Provide your customers with loads of info
If you do decide to monetise your server, you must clearly state that the purchase is not associated with Mojang, declare who the money is going to, and provide a purchase history and contact details. You should also check the legality of selling digital items in your specific region.

Thanks for reading!
As I hope you’ve noticed, these rules are making attempts to prevent Minecraft servers becoming “pay-to-win.” We hate the idea of server hosts restricting Minecraft’s features to players who have already bought our game! It seems really mean.

We’re hoping that these rules will give hosts opportunity to continue creating awesome Minecraft worlds, and for our players to enjoy them without being forced to spend.

I’m sure we’ll get loads of questions about this subject over the next few days. I’ll prepare a follow-up post once I’ve gathered your queries.

Have a good day!

Owen – @bopogamel, and your buddies at Mojang.

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