There was a kerfuffle earlier this month when Mojang's Erik "Grum" Broes took a moment to remind everyone that charging Minecraft players for in-game perks is against the rules . Historically, Mojang's tendency has been to let it slide, but Broes' suggestion that the company might start cracking down on the worst offenders didn't go over well with everyone, including one person who said the studio was "literally worse than EA." But in fact, Mojang's updated EULA actually makes it easier for server operators to support their digital realms, while still doing what it can to protect its "don't pay for gameplay" credo.
The Minecraft EULA update was actually announced last week in the middle of E3, which is why it's gone largely unnoticed until now. But it's noteworthy as a big step toward liberalizing Mojang's approach to monetizing servers. Operators may charge for access to their servers, as long as it's the same fee for everyone, accept donations, and sell in-game advertising or sponsorships; they may also sell in-game items as long as they don't affect gameplay. They may not sell in-game currency, however, and capes, which Mojang apparently wants to keep for itself, are also off the table.
"Hosting servers can be expensive. We want to give hosts a way to cover their costs. That said, we don't want our players to be exploited or to have a frustrating time unless they pay," Mojang wrote in its announcement of the changed EULA. "These rules are making attempts to prevent Minecraft servers becoming 'pay-to-win.' We hate the idea of server hosts restricting Minecraft's features to players who have already bought our game!"
In an interesting twist, Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson revealed in a blog post following the announcement that anger over Broes' explanation of the EULA—which, for the record, has never allowed servers to charge for in-game perks—prompted discussions that ultimately led to changes. But it seems that some people aren't happy about that, either.
"There are new rules. These are new exceptions to the EULA. All of these make the rules more liberal than things were before," he wrote. "People are still asking me to change back to the old EULA. That makes me sad."
A follow-up Q&A about the changes to the Minecraft EULA went up earlier today at Mojang.com .