‘Minecraft’ Cracked Down on Crypto and NFTs—But Worldcoin Integration Is Fine, Microsoft Says

Minecraft, one of the world’s most popular games, has also been arguably the biggest to push back against cryptocurrency and NFT integrations. Developer Mojang and publisher Microsoft banned their use even within fan-operated online servers. That’s why it was a surprise to see Worldcoin announce a Minecraft integration last week.

Worldcoin is best known for its “Orb,” a device that scans a person’s retinas and generates a unique IrisCode, which is tracked on the project’s blockchain and used to generate a World ID to show “proof of personhood.” Participants are also given an airdrop of WLD crypto tokens, a key part of the Worldcoin ecosystem.

What does this have to do with Minecraft, the blocky sandbox game that became a worldwide sensation? Worldcoin’s app integration uses the World ID credential for user verification, letting Minecraft server operators require players to authenticate themselves before being granted certain in-game permissions.

“With the rising prominence of bots in online gaming, World ID provides a privacy-preserving way to verify humanness and provide players with awareness as to whether they are interacting with other human players or bots,” a Worldcoin representative told Decrypt’s GG. “The specific integration with Minecraft aims to help server admins to reduce instances of ‘griefing’ and keep the gaming experience safer and more enjoyable for everyone.”

In 2022, Minecraft announced plans to ban NFTs and eventually did this year. It also banned using cryptocurrencies to reward players, forcing a server that paid out Bitcoin to shut off the feature this past fall. In a statement released in 2022, Microsoft and Mojang described what appeared to be a broad ban on blockchain technologies.

“To ensure that Minecraft players have a safe and inclusive experience, blockchain technologies are not permitted to be integrated inside our Minecraft client and server applications, nor may they be utilized to create NFTs associated with any in-game content, including worlds, skins, persona items, or other mods.”

However, the final text of the updated Minecraft end-user license agreement (EULA) provides more specific guidance, outlawing play-to earn features that pay out cryptocurrency to players and banning NFTs that create a sense of exclusivity around items.

“Basically, we don’t want mods that affect players’ experience and create scarcity of in-game content based [on] out-of-game conditions,” the EULA states. “For example, a mod that directly or indirectly checks [if] a player owns an NFT to unlock skins, functions, or other in-game experiences is not OK with us.”

Worldcoin’s integration is purely focused on the World ID credential and doesn’t require cryptocurrency or tokens within the game. So is it free and clear, then?

Reached for comment, a Minecraft spokesperson stressed to Decrypt that the companies “had no involvement in the Worldcoin initiative, and any Minecraft integration should be considered entirely unofficial.”

But they added that as long as it “adheres to the guidelines” spelled out in the EULA and its original post about NFTs, then the Worldcoin integration is “likely acceptable.”

A Worldcoin representative clarified further that the WLD token is distinctive from the World ID credential, and that people in some parts of the world cannot currently access the token.

“[It’s] important to note that World ID and the token do not have to be used together for there to be utility with World ID,” the Worldcoin representative told Decrypt. “Notably, individuals in the United States can obtain a World ID but do not have access to the token.”

That separation between the tech and the token appears to be enough to help Worldcoin skirt Minecraft’s rules on other types of blockchain integrations—and allow its World ID functionality to remain in use.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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