Friday, 6 June 2014

The Beginning of the end? Is Minecraft about to descend into the Nether?

SO the world internet gaming sensation MINECRAFT seems to be 

selling its soul and moving into the Nether.


As Hammad Toufiq details in his excellent post on Segment Next Mojang (the company which created and own Minecraft) are to restricting Minecraft Servers from making money, changing something called the EULA (End User License Agreement).

Now before you think I'm going to bombard you with technical terms and details - I'm not. You don't need them. The point here is simple.... Mojang are allegedly proposing to prevent anyone using their game to create their own content and then financially benefit from that content. It's guess it's a bit like being in a company - what you think of or create during the time you are there is owned by the company, harsh maybe but fair enough. But this is a community! And the difference here is the phenomenon which is Minecraft is such an incredible success precisely for the reason that such use exists. 

The game costs £17.99 , so Mojang are not making a killing per sale, but since sales have hit record levels they are not doing too badly. And take into account the must-have over-priced accessories it's a pretty good business model.

But what makes people buy it, play it and enjoy it is it's unique interactivity, creativity and community.

You've only got to look at the popularity of their annual conference, Minecon. Location is kept secret until the last minute, and tickets sell out in minutes. MINUTES. The audience is not full of software developers either - it's mostly full of young people. Young people who might not usually enjoy community events, might not want to speak publicly, ask questions and enjoy pretty academic discussion. it's a fantastic achievement.

So why are Mojang trying to mess with a winning formula? Haven't they heard that well known phrase - "If it ain't broke, don't "fix" it!"?
It's also not a little hypocritical. When there was a Minecraft parody of Psy's "Gangnam Style" Mojang and the whole Minecraft community were up in arms because Sony ordered them to take it off YouTube, since it violated copyright. What it actually DID do for Psy was help boost his video views to 1 billion on YouTube - because those who had hardly heard of him but loved the Minecraft version wanted to see the original! It's precisely this interactive, creative support that makes Minecraft what it is. It has outlived and surpassed all other online games in recent years, taking on a life of its own - because everyone can be a part of it. It's like no other sit-and-game-by-yourself video game, you really CAN get involved.


My sons are both heavily involved, and not just playing either. My Autistic twelve year old codes mods (moderations) and creates his own videos. He plays on servers hosting maps online and his social interaction skills have benefitted hugely. In fact, just here in Suffolk there are several Minecraft severs just supporting those with Autism who want to play. It teaches what other humans cannot teach a child on the Autism Spectrum - cause and effect, interaction with others, manners and a social conscience. He has tried most online games, goes in deep and then tosses them aside, but Minecraft has stuck.

My eldest I have posted about before - he is JJtCool on Youtube with a large following. He has learned so much from Minecraft - creating the maps requires a decent level of Physics knowledge to create cause and effect links etc, he's taught himself video editing, created artwork, learned how to work with others and more. He has been really successful, his "Sky Wars" map gaining a mention at Minecon 2013 and through networking he has made friends across the world, working together to participate in this incredible Minecraft revolution.



J's "Sky Wars 2" map on YouTube.

Creating a map like that is no mean feat, creating a video of a game on a map like that requires in-depth software knowledge, and choosing a rights free (or paying rights) soundtrack requires navigation through basic copyright law. Then you have to edit, splice and sync - it's a LOT harder than creating a firework display to music on Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 I can tell you... and it's taught him a lot.

So successful was his YouTube channel that he started his own server on his old hard drive. Not satisfied with this last summer he taught himself to code, bought a domain, got it hosted and built his own website. The small YouTube earnings part funded this and using his own initiative he has earned the rest via jobs locally. He is creating content from an amazing platform and using this as a springboard to furthering his abilities and aspirations for the future - AND most importantly, he's achieved this as part of one of the nicest, friendliest and most supportive online gaming communities in existence. His next step was to consider monetising the server but these changes would probably bring an end to all that.

So WHY is that so bad??! 

Minecraft servers are not cheap to run. (We know - we subsidise one!) Players can "donate" or pay for perks which subsidises this cost - and for a few really lucky people with good content it makes them some money. Big Deal - it's the experience and server time that players are paying for, not a game they already own! Mojang claim to favour "pay for entry" over "pay for perks" for servers, but people don't tend to game that way, and no one wants to pay every time they use a server. Anyone can currently use most servers for free, because for a great server experience you need players. The more the merrier. Many are kids who have no funds, they couldn't easily pay for entry, and it would significantly reduce parents' fondness for the game if a daily fee were required! No, free at the point of entry is the only way to start up or run servers.

So how do hosts reimburse themselves their costs? Answer - pay for perks. If you enjoy your experience, you can choose to donate, and many do. But some hard core Minecraft gamers like to buy "add-ons" etc for the game on that particular server and it's THIS money (totally optional, increases your gameplay experience but not essential) which finances servers and it's this that Mojang are objecting to. 

The fundamental issue here though is that in a sadly ironic way Mojang appear to have missed the point entirely. They don't own a regular game here. They own the building blocks - literally! The sandbox, the starter kit. It's success is down to the fact that people can take it and run with it. Then the sky really is the limit.



Post Comment Love

22 comments:

  1. Mine only play on the xbox as I didn't want to give them access to servers and I would have had to buy server space.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No you wouldn't Jen and that's the point of Pay for Perks. You can go on almost any server free so if you cannot afford to donate, you don't. And no one would judge you. If yu enjoy your experience, you can choose to donate, and many do. Some hard cord Minecraft gamers want to buy "add-ons" etc for the game on that particular server and it's THIS money (totally optional, increases your gameplay experience but not essential) which finances servers and it's this that Mojang are objecting to.

      Delete
  2. oh my son loves this and i am so happy that it is now out fo the ps to now as my daughter also wante it but she wasnt on xbox, I prefer ps as you get the online feature free even though they are never allowed on it unless im with them , but shes wanting this so badly x

    ReplyDelete
  3. My son loves playing minecraft - I have not got the first clue about it >_<

    ReplyDelete
  4. My daughter hasn't a clue about Minecraft and I'm quite happy with that

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh this is completely over my head, I have no idea about any of it x

    http://www.youbabymemummy.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. my three haven't got the minecraft bug, so haven't a clue lol

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thankfully my son hasn't got into the whole Minecraft phenomenon yet! Sounds like there are lots of changes to come.

    ReplyDelete
  8. believe it or now the first time ive heard about Minecraft when i saw a minecraft cake

    ReplyDelete
  9. What would #Herobrine say?!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a whole new world for me. I'm sure I will understand more when my kids start getting into it.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is a whole new world for me. I'm sure I will get into this if and when my kids do though.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Gosh this is another world to me Kate with POD only being 3 and obsessed with Frozen! We don't have anything gaming related in the house at all, at the moment anyway :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. My two love Minecraft on the XBox and on the PC and this would be a massive shame if it happened. It all comes down to money doesn't it!

    ReplyDelete
  14. My middle 2 love Minecraft. It would be devastating for them if they had to pay to access servers, as it is if they want add ons they have to do chores to earn them, but a fee every time they used a server would mean they could no longer play. That would be a real shame because it has taught them patience and encouraged their creativity. Belle has just built a huge Minecraft hospital after her own recent stay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently there was concern from Mojang that some people are charging extortionate amounts for add-ons too, and some kids were stealing credit cards etc to pay for them. But that's a PARENTING problem, which they are confusing with a copyright problem...

      Delete
    2. Absolutely. None of our card details are stored in any of the consoles and we have strict parental controls set up. If I am not prepared to pay for an add on I just say no. If our children ever used our cards without permission they are well aware that they would no longer have a console to play on!

      Delete
  15. OMG I know you tried to keep it simple, but it's like you're talking in anoterh language!! Mind you, my 9 and 6 year olds would probably understand what you're saying...! I just about get that this is a bad idea, don't understand why they're doing it :(

    ReplyDelete
  16. We don't play it - my teenager has played it a few years ago but I don't really understand it all!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have no idea about minecraft except that my 14 year old son loves it. He tries to talk to me about it and I try to listen and sound interested but I have to be honest and tell him I have no idea what he;s going on about!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Fascinating post. I've not heard of this game but was really interested to read about it and to hear how it has inspired your sons to get more involved with coding and the fantastic lessons this is teaching them.

    ReplyDelete
  19. My entire household is minecraft crazy, I know much more about the game than I care to admit to IRL friends although I don't actually play lol. I can see your side completely, nobody will pay to enter a server like that. But I can also see where Notch is coming from. Some severs are set up so you are limited a lot in what you can achieve purely because you are not a paying member. I guess he just wants to close that divide between paying and non paying players. This will obviously then have a knock on effect that the servers, like The Hive, will be penalised even though you can play just as freely without paying. Maybe he's hoping people will just donate to keep servers going even if they don't get any perks. I'm also wondering if perks that don't enhance the actual gameplay will be okay as that seems to be his issue?
    Fingers crossed there won't be any more changes to that EULA in the future!

    ReplyDelete

Many thanks for taking the time to comment, I really value your responses.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...