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An independent, fan-run PC game server for Minecraft that paid players in Bitcoin will remove its play-to-earn functionality following what the creators claim was a demand from Minecraft creator Mojang.
In a late Friday Discord post, Satlantis server founder David Dineno said that Mojang—which, like Minecraft, is owned by Microsoft—asked the server administrators to remove the play-to-earn feature. The functionality allowed users to accumulate and withdraw small amounts of Bitcoin, as detailed in a recent how-to guide from Decrypt’s GG.
In a follow-up post, Dineno said that the play-to-earn functionality will be removed from Satlantis at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, and advised players to withdraw their satoshis—the smallest denomination of Bitcoin—from the server. However, the creators say they plan to revive the concept within another game that’s yet to be decided.
“This sucks. There’s no getting around that,” Dineno's post reads. “But Satlantis will live on.”
“‘The Game That Shares its Profits With Players’ works. And it works well,” the post continues. “All of the time, money, and energy that we put into this game together will not be forsaken by a few dinosaurs at some conglomerate. We will be porting the Satlantis community to a platform that encourages innovation, instead of stifling it.”
Satlantis said that it will continue to honor Bitcoin withdrawals outside of the game after tomorrow’s deadline, and that it will otherwise port over all earnings, in-game items, and player statuses to its new game platform in the future. After tomorrow’s deadline, Satlantis will remain online for the foreseeable future, albeit without Bitcoin earnings enabled.
Decrypt reached out to Microsoft/Mojang representatives for comment, but did not immediately receive a response. In the Discord server, Dineno elaborated on Mojang's request.
"This is not at all something I wanted to do. I didn't have a choice," he wrote. "Mojang threatened to block our server IP and cease-and-desist our server host if we didn't comply."
Dineno told Decrypt via Twitter DM that Mojang's reported demand to Satlantis to kill its play-to-earn functionality was "essentially telling Minecraft players to 'Have fun staying poor.'"
He said that Satlantis had attracted over 2,300 players and that they "loved it," and that the server had thus far given out a full Bitcoin (current price: $26,450 as of this writing) in rewards. Dineno added that one player reached out after the news to express his dismay, saying that the earnings had helped him.
"Messages like that have me more invigorated than ever to keep building," Dineno explained. "We’ve been working nonstop since the news and already have a prototype successor up and running. So we should have some news on that sooner than people were probably expecting."
Minecraft’s usage guidelines have indeed been updated to include a ban on play-to-earn features in user-operated servers, joining the previously announced ban on NFT functionality. It’s unclear when the guideline changes were instituted; Decrypt has asked for clarification. Decrypt reported in June that the NFT ban still hadn’t been added after nearly a year.
The claimed action against Satlantis recalls the previous situation around NFT Worlds, a project that sold tokenized land plots for a dedicated Minecraft fan server. When Mojang announced its planned ban on token-gated features, NFT Worlds said that it would consider other ways to move forward, and ultimately rebranded to Hytopia and created its own Minecraft-like game engine—with a beta release said to be out soon.
Minecraft isn’t the only prominent game to ban NFTs and cryptocurrency from its fan servers. In November 2022, Rockstar Games announced that both would be banned from the smash hit open-world game Grand Theft Auto V, following a rise in servers in which users sold NFTs to represent limited-edition vehicles and other in-game items.
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to include comments from Satlantis founder David Denino.