Microsoft-owned video game Minecraft banned non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from its game Wednesday, becoming the latest title to join the battle between the traditional gaming world and Web3.
“To ensure that Minecraft players have a safe and inclusive experience, blockchain technologies are not permitted to be integrated inside our client and server applications, nor may Minecraft in-game content such as worlds, skins, persona items, or other mods, be utilized by blockchain technology to create a scarce digital asset,” Minecraft studio Mojang said in a statement.
While Minecraft acknowledged the potential benefits of introducing NFTs to its games – namely providing in-game collectibles and play-to-earn style rewards – it also pointed to drawbacks:
“NFTs are not inclusive of all our community and create a scenario of the haves and the have-nots,” the company said. “The speculative pricing and investment mentality around NFTs takes the focus away from playing the game and encourages profiteering, which we think is inconsistent with the long-term joy and success of our players.”
The biggest loser of Minecraft’s announcement has been NFT Worlds, a Web3 gaming project focused on third-party blockchain and NFT Minecraft integrations. Prices for the project’s NFTs plummeted 70% following the announcement, though the project’s developers say they won’t be abandoning the community.
The price of the project’s native WRLD token is also down 65% on the news, according to CoinMarketCap.
The announcement comes amid a debate between traditional gamers who oppose NFTs and Web3 believers who champion them. The arguments for and against NFTs in gaming typically boil down to two schools of thought: NFT haters don’t want to over-financialize the sector, while NFT enthusiasts deem the technology as a way to deal with what they see as money-hungry publishers.
The NFT gaming debate started burning last December, when popular game publisher Ubisoft announced it would integrate the technology into its “Tom Clancy” series.
That announcement, like Minecraft’s on Wednesday, was met with both praise and criticism, with Ubisoft eventually canning the NFT experiment altogether.
Minecraft’s disdain for NFTs isn't unique within the landscape of big-name gaming properties. Valve has long banned NFTs, and blockchain integrations from its gaming marketplace Steam, a hotbed for trading in-game, non-NFT digital assets such as character skins. Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, says it’s also staying away from integrating NFTs in any of its in-house titles, though it hasn’t barred games that use them from its marketplace like Valve.
Minecraft’s decision may be a temperature check of what’s to come with Microsoft’s plan for the metaverse. The software giant pledged to focus on the area with its planned acquisition of gaming stalwart Activision for $69 billion.
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