Minecraft's Incredible Success
By any standards, Minecraft has been a staggering success. With over 21m sales to phones, 13m to consoles and over 15m to PCs and Macs, it is now the 3rd most popular game of all time, only trailing Tetris and Wii Sports.
And it is not only Mojang, the game's producer, that has been profiting from the game's enormous success. A number of server providers such as Mineplex have been developing epic maps and allowing users to interact with them for a fee.
Now, however, Mojang seems to be clamping down on the phenomenon, and many independent Minecraft developers and server providers find their jobs at risk.
Mojang's argument goes that it is unfair to operate a 'pay to win' model, whereby users are at a disadvantage if they do not spend money for equipment that would give them better chance of being successful.
The servers dispute that this is what they are doing. They argue that what they are in fact charging for is access to 'ranks', a more balanced system in which every skill (greater speed, for example) is offset against a deficiency elsewhere (a weaker attack, perhaps), so that no one has the ultimate edge over anyone else.
A Mojang Monopoly?
In fact, companies like Mineplex see the new strictness by Mojang at the start of something more sinister, something that could end up compromising the free and open world that has for so long been part of Minecraft's appeal.
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The independent servers accuse Minecraft of pursuing their clampdown in order to encourage gamers to join their own recently released Minecraft Realms, which allows users to set up their own private servers for up to 20 friends. There is a belief that Mojang would want to expand this in the future, and move further into space occupied by the independents.
Mojang deny this, and, on the whole, they have a good record of maintaining users freedom, and not selling out. They have previously rejected approaches both from EA and Facebook, accusing the latter of creepiness. Minecraft founder Markus Persson wrote about the social-media company:
Their motives are too unclear
For now then, Minecraft will remain as it is, but expect this story to crop up again in a couple of weeks. The deadline for compliance with Mojang's new regulations is the 1st of August.
So who do you back in the dispute, Mojang, the makers of Minecraft, or the server providers like Mineplex? Write in with your thoughts below the line!
Whose side are you on in the dispute?