The Minecraft EULA: What You Can And Can’t Do

Since apparently the official post is so bloody difficult to understand (it’s not).

THINGS YOU CAN’T DO:

Charge for access to a specific part of your server (e.g. a world or area)
Sell gameplay-affecting items like tools, potions, armour, etc.
Sell in-game currency for real-world currency
Sell boosters
Sell commands that affect gameplay (like flying or toggling game mode)

Essentially, you can’t do anything that will give one player a gameplay benefit over another player. This is called ‘pay to win’ and is generally frowned upon in civilized society because it’s somewhat akin to extortion.

THINGS YOU CAN DO:

Charge for access to your server
Sell vanity items (hats, pets)
Sell commands (as long as they don’t affect gameplay)
Place advertising
Sell ranks (as long as the rewards are all vanity and don’t affect gameplay)
Sell boosters that benefit the entire server population (i.e. one person buys a booster that affects every player)
Sell priority server access
Charge for minigames (as long as all players on the server have access)
Charge for mods / plugins (as long as all players on the server have access)
Accept donations
Give rewards for reaching donation goals (as long as the rewards benefit the entire server population)

Tell me again how this is going to kill servers because they won’t be able to make money. Go on, I dare you.

As an aside, this is not a new EULA. From Mojang’s other blog post;

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.

Clarified: Previously you weren’t allowed to make money from your Minecraft server IN ANY WAY and making money from your Minecraft server IN ANY WAY was against the EULA. Now, Mojang have opened up the EULA and allowed you to make money from your server IN MANY WAYS while still legally complying with the EULA.

They are not taking things away from you. They are giving you things. Shut the fuck up with your childish, selfish, spoiled bratty bitching already.

 

  • “Tell me again how this is going to kill servers because they won’t be able to make money. Go on, I dare you.”

    PlayMindcrack has consistantly tried to run, with input from Mojang employees, on what we perceived to be Mojang’s concern about “Pay 2 Win”. First off, I think it’s fallacious to claim that all servers that offer gameplay benefits for cash payments are “Pay 2 Win”. We wouldn’t consider LoL or Smite to be “Pay 2 Win”. They’re free to play, and if you play a lot you get more benefits… class unlocks, etc. The notion that any and all example of in-game benefit are “frowned upon by civilized society” or “extortion” is pure sophistry.

    It’s tough to fully cover this issue because of the natural diversity of servers, but I think the most popular minigame servers are seeing the same issues behind the EULA proposal.

    First off, servers would like to offer a Free-to-Play model of some kind so that others who are interested in playing on the server don’t have a huge wall between potential customers and actual ones. The entire “pay to enter the server” model is quite limited and is likely going to segregate friends. All-in-all, it’s hard to do business if someone has to pay to enter your door. Free trials are not a bad way to let new users in, but once that trial is up, we’re back to segregating friends from each other based on their incomes. The ideal situation in this entire spectrum of gameplay is one where people can play for free, but receive some bonus for helping support the server… so how do we get people to chip in if we’re letting free people on.

    Simply claiming that people will pay so that servers survive succumbs to the tragedy of the commons. Most people will simply reap the benefits if they are there, without volunteering to support the servers. After all, if a given server shuts down, there are dozens of others to take their place… until there aren’t. It won’t be until the market becomes devoid of options that most people will see the flaw in their reasoning and begin supporting their favorite servers. But by then, the other servers will have taken significant losses. It’s several thousand dollars a month to run a decent multi-player minigame server… and dozens of thousands of dollars a month to run a sizable one.

    So we need some motivation to get people to not freeload. The upcoming EULA changes remove the ability to offer actual benefits to the games. Cosmetic benefits one can offer in Minecraft are actually fairly limited,and while cosmetic items in games like TF2 are able to drive the costs of that game, minecraft is no TF2. How much is a blue name worth? How much is a pet worth? That might work for environments where people spend a lot of time admiring one-another’s things, but most minigame servers are about the gameplay, not the shinies. Who has time to be impressed with someone’s pet when they’re getting spleefed to death?

    So why can’t we use the tools that other free-to-play services use? Again, LoL and Smite aren’t exploitative… Why can’t all players slowly unlock classes and allow that to speed up if you help support the server? Why is increased advancement so forbidden? Why can’t I have portals to “Patron Only” games so that people who support the servers have access to slightly different game modes or insular experiences. Why can’t I offer a normal service that has perks for buying in?

    Robert Moran likes to make fun of the very idea that Dwarves vs. Zombies could be “Pay 2 Win” since the Dwarves CAN’T win. It may sound silly, but I think it puts a fine point on the entire debate. There is an oversimplification going on, and the good servers who work hard to provide good balanced games are being thrown under the bus with the exploitative servers who actually do offer unbans and win buttons for cash. I really kinda thought you’d be expressing more subtlety in this post, but for those who aren’t looking at this in black and white, here are a few posts to offer you an additional viewpoint:

    http://www.reddit.com/r/Minecraft/comments/28dz59/notch_responds_to_polygons_biased_questions_like/ciaaurp

    http://www.reddit.com/r/playmindcrack/comments/27fdh6/post_got_deleted_from_rminecraft_so_here_you_go/

    • “The notion that any and all example of in-game benefit are “frowned upon by civilized society” or “extortion” is pure sophistry.”

      Well, that depends on your definition of ‘in-game benefit’, and since we’re talking exclusively about the Mojang EULA here and their own definition of in-game benefit, which would be anything that gives one player an advantage over another if they pay for it, that IS considered ‘pay to win’ and that model in games IS generally frowned upon. You might consider being given a pet ocelot in return for donating an in-game benefit, but as far as Mojang’s concerned it’s not; vanity items don’t make playing the game easier. I’ve never played Lol or Smite and don’t know how their payment models work, but I’ve played a bunch of MMOs with cash shops and there’s always an uproar when the cash shop offers an item that boosts gameplay when that item can’t also be recovered via non-payment means. The game Allods Online offered a stat boost potion in its cash shop that was almost essential for being able to effectively kill mobs, and that potion wasn’t available any other way than the cash shop – the community railed over it and eventually Allods changed it so that you can also get the potion without paying.

      “but once that trial is up, we’re back to segregating friends from each other based on their incomes”

      “but most minigame servers are about the gameplay, not the shinies. Who has time to be impressed with someone’s pet when they’re getting spleefed to death?”

      So offering gameplay-changing items to people who pay for them is NOT segregating friends based on their incomes? Player A can afford to pay for the diamond arms and armour kit, player B can’t. Player B dies, is out of the game. Friends segregated based on income. Offering any kind of gameplay advantage like that in exchange for cash is dubious at best. “You can play on my PVP server but you’ll get owned unless you cough up some cash”? That’s not good. If servers have been built up around that kind of model and can’t afford to keep running their servers while staying within the limits of the EULA, then perhaps Minecraft isn’t the kind of game they should be using to run their server. If I can’t make money in the real world in my chosen profession without going to jail, then I need to change my profession. How is this any different? Just because I might have been getting away with it for the past year doesn’t somehow make it not illegal; it just means I’ve managed to avoid the consequences until now.

      “Why can’t all players slowly unlock classes and allow that to speed up if you help support the server? Why is increased advancement so forbidden? Why can’t I have portals to “Patron Only” games so that people who support the servers have access to slightly different game modes or insular experiences.”

      Because, as you put it yourself, that’s segregating based on income. It’s not fair to Player B who lives on the breadline, that he’s playing on the same server as his friend Player A who has more expendable income and is able to pay to advance quicker and access other game modes while leaving his friend Player B behind. Just because other games might do it doesn’t mean that it’s a just thing to do.

      All this is without even mentioning that the EULA that’s been in place since the EULA was implemented ALSO prevented servers from doing these things – now a majority of the EULA has been lifted from applying to server owners. You’re talking about the things that server owners aren’t allowed to do now – they’ve NEVER been allowed to do them. The fact that Mojang wasn’t whipping out the lawyers at every opportunity does not mean that breaking the EULA was ok – it just means that Mojang wasn’t following up on it much. All those servers you’re mentioning that shouldn’t be painted in the same light as those that offer unban buttons for cash? If they’re breaking the EULA now then they’ve been breaking it since it’s been implemented and they built their server on a model that ignored the EULA. That’s not Mojang’s fault and Mojang have nothing to answer for there – if those servers suddenly find themselves unable to operate, then that’s their fault for making a business out of ignoring a contract. If they’re complaining, it’s because they broke the rules and now they’re finding themselves liable. If they didn’t like the rules in the first place, they had two choices – they could have walked away from the game if they didn’t like the rules they had to play by, or they could have broken the rules with the understanding that they were breaking the rules and might face the consequences at some point. It seems to me that what’s happening now is those server owners don’t want to face the consequences of their poor decision making, and everybody’s making excuses for them.

      • “their own definition of in-game benefit, which would be anything that gives one player an advantage over another if they pay for it, that IS considered ‘pay to win’ and that model in games IS generally frowned upon.”

        So if I’m able to be 5% faster but 5% less armored is that a benefit? Minecraft’s EULA conversations specifically didn’t address the notion of in-game options because the subjective nature of what is a benefit and what isn’t is too varied. The forbid anything that changes gameplay, even if it’s balanced. So if I make a game where patrons have more options for their character, I’m breaking the EULA.

        I’m not talking about items or abilities that you must have to progress… I agree that’s Pay 2 Win, and I’m not discussing that. Allods had issues.

        “You can play on my PVP server but you’ll get owned unless you cough up some cash”?

        Again, more supposition I’m not discussing. You’re saying all in-game changes are inherently Pay 2 Win, I’m saying they aren’t. Step outside the propaganda that says all servers are run that way and listen to some servers who aren’t doing that.

        “If I can’t make money in the real world in my chosen profession without going to jail, then I need to change my profession. ”

        I should even address this strawman. We’re not talking about committing crimes, we’re talking about designing games within an engine that has fostered that behavior, and then being treated like you’re a parasite. If you want to put forward a professionally run server, you have to actually pay people for working ban tickets, pay your server provider, and offer some compensation to people who are designing the games. It’s no more or less dubious than people wanting to make money off Let’s Plays. Yes, technically, the usage of these games might violate corporate policy, but the notion of transformative work does exist, even with Minecraft.

        “Because, as you put it yourself, that’s segregating based on income. It’s not fair to Player B who lives on the breadline, that he’s playing on the same server as his friend Player A who has more expendable income and is able to pay to advance quicker and access other game modes while leaving his friend Player B behind. Just because other games might do it doesn’t mean that it’s a just thing to do.”

        Not if Players A and B can play in the same game and it’s not imbalanced. We’re not talking about giving player A diamond armor while player B is naked… We’re talking about Player A getting a new class that is able to make arrows, but loses his melee weapon. We’re talking about being able to play more varied roles in a game, not more or less powerful roles in a game. The tiresome notion that all variations in in-game abilities are Pay 2 Win is patently disproven by games like LoL and Smite, whose models are well worth looking into.

        But hey, let’s consider this from another angle. Player A has a job and has to work 40 hours a week. Player B is in his parents basement and is able to spend all his time earning currency on a server that can’t sell it. Player A wants to come home and play with Player B, but he’s not able to access the game modes his friend does, because he has a job to go to and couldn’t farm the necessary bits. How is that fundamentally different from one person buying more in-game currency than another?

        “It seems to me that what’s happening now is those server owners don’t want to face the consequences of their poor decision making, and everybody’s making excuses for them.”

        And it seems to me that people are seeking large public servers where they can play games with their friends. They are in such demand that some of them make money providing a service that people want. Mojang has long fostered a community of people making money off providing services for those who enjoy Minecraft. Their EULA specifically says, “Otherwise we are quite relaxed about what you do – in fact we really encourage you to do cool stuff – but just don‘t do those things that we say you can‘t.” And for a long time, they never said you couldn’t make money off servers… Servers have long been able to accept money to pay for operations, and Mojang hasn’t argued against it, nor have they stated they were eager to squash it.

        My point continues to be that there are Pay 2 Win servers and there are servers that are not Pay 2 Win… and lumping them all together is dishonest. Mojang’s EULA change is throwing out the ability for some healthy and constructive servers to sustain themselves, even when they respect the players and Mojang. I think that’s a poor decision. There are constructive and healthy ways to foster good multi-player servers without restricting them from providing any in-game changes.

        • “Their EULA specifically says, “Otherwise we are quite relaxed about what you do – in fact we really encourage you to do cool stuff – but just don‘t do those things that we say you can‘t.” And for a long time, they never said you couldn’t make money off servers… Servers have long been able to accept money to pay for operations, and Mojang hasn’t argued against it, nor have they stated they were eager to squash it.”

          In one of their recent blog posts on the Mojang site,

          “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.”

          Suggesting that you’ve never been legally allowed to make money from Minecraft servers. As I said in the last comment, just because they haven’t previously argued argued against it or tried to squash it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t breaking the EULA or that it wasn’t allowed. If your server collaborated with Mojang to create a space that was able to make money while conforming to the EULA and Mojang were fine with that, then maybe Mojang shouldn’t have been so quick to allow servers to do things that were against their overall licence of ‘thou shalt not make money from Minecraft except through videos’.

          I’m certainly not saying that all server owners were out to circumvent the EULA when making their servers – you know I’m a server owner myself and we accept donations, which was previously against the EULA. With the impending crackdown on Mojang’s enforcement of the EULA we’re changing our server donation model to fall within the limits of what’s allowed. To me, it doesn’t matter that there might be balanced non-extortionate payment models like gaining the ability to do one thing at the loss of another – what matters is that NONE of these things were previously allowed, and now SOME of them are. If what’s allowed now isn’t enough to keep some servers sustainable, then the’d never have been sustainable in the first place if Mojang had enforced their EULA – they tied themselves to a business model that relied on the generosity of a third party in letting legal issues slide. That’s a slippery slope to build your business on.

          • “As I said in the last comment, just because they haven’t previously argued against it or tried to squash it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t breaking the EULA or that it wasn’t allowed.”

            But that’s not an accurate presentation of what was going on. Mojang and many of these big servers were in active communication, some were even informed they were working within the EULA. They were invited to Minecon to give presentations on how they run their businesses, and they were allowed exhibit space in the convention. This was not a matter of sliding under the radar…. this was a case where they were definitively mislead.

            I’m weary of the oversimplification that this was cut and dry. This was a complex situation, and these server owners were working well within what was understood to be acceptable parameters for existence. Were some of them douchey with their tools? Sure, and some likely knew they were risking having Mojang change its policies… but throwing all servers into one collective and treating them all like the minority of exploitative servers was unjust.

            I suspect this was the result of a small coalition of share holders within Mojang taking a stand against what was previously understood to be the company stance. It might have come directly from Notch, himself, who has publicly stated that he was weary of getting e-mails from disgruntled parents. It seems logical to me that some powerful piece of the company decided what had been done was no longer acceptable, and it had to change. I do not see this as the evolution of existing company policy, but the whim of a controlling interest.

            This does not mean they didn’t have the RIGHT to make this decision, and most server owners understand that Mojang had an interest in doing so. The problem is that the scalpel used to remove the perceived cancer is going to take out a lot of the useful organs that helped sustain the Minecraft community. I agree that the egotism some are exhibiting, that the EULA change would kill Minecraft as a game, is preposterous histrionics… but the notion that these servers were operating in some unmoderated limbo is equally silly. Mojang knew of the servers and did more than give tacit approval… they have support, advice, and public recognition to the same people they are now openly condeming.

          • I wonder then if those servers that were operating outside of the EULA but with Mojang’s approval can continue doing so without the risk of retribution. They’re not a huge team and I can’t imagine they have the resources to spend chasing down everyone who breaks the EULA, so I imagine they’ll probably target the big offenders first, the people who ARE doing the hugely exploitative things like charging hundreds of bucks for arms kits on PVP servers – perhaps this clarification of the EULA just gives them more power to be able to go after the worst offenders while they turn a blind eye to servers operating more like PlayMindCrack and people they’ve collaborated with in the past. If they’ve done so much previous work with the server owners that offer decent unexploitative monetisation strategies then it IS hugely unfair of them to suddenly undo all of that effort. I guess the only way we’ll find out if they are going to continue letting the more decent things slide is through time.

          • I suspect that taking this stand will require them to take action to any significantly large server. It’s frustrating though, because something as simple as allowing portals to patron-only areas could allow rational monetization. One could also see a Mojang liaison who is able to offer waivers to servers who can demonstrate non-pay2win gameplay changes. But I doubt either of those will happen.

          • I found it a bit amusing that you can’t charge for access to a world but you CAN charge for access to a server – when it’s a relatively easy thing to link up servers with portals; if a player’s whitelisted on both servers they can just hop through the portal. They cover proxies in the FAQ and clarify a different server as ‘the player needing to disconnect from one and connect to the other via the multiplayer window’ – that’s definitely a grey area. If I have one server running on the default port and an entirely separate server running on another port and link them with a portal, they’re still two different servers, and there’s very little difference in that situation between joining an access-controlled server through a portal to joining an access-controlled world through a portal.

            The Liaison is a nice idea. Like you said though, can’t see it happening. It’d be a full time job in itself, and then some, sorting through every applicant.

      • Oh, and just to poke at that “poor decision making” bit a little harder… Guude collaborated with members of the Mojang development team to understand what their concerns were with servers. PlayMindcrack was developed to specifically avoid the issues that Mojang was having, and deliberately took step to ensure we would be prepared for EULA changes that we knew were on the way. So the presumptuous notion that everyone was just out to circumvent Mojang’s desires when they made their servers is patently false.