The sandbox-style video game Minecraft, released back in 2011, is getting a Web3 update thanks to a few developers unaffiliated with Microsoft.
NFT Worlds is a project built on third-party Minecraft servers with a Polygon-based overlay. Polygon is an Ethereum sidechain which offers lower gas fees (i.e., transaction fees) for users. NFT Worlds’ blockchain layer on Minecraft will allow players to access Web3 features, such as an online shop where they can buy items for their Minecraft experience using the $WRLD ERC-20 token.
Some of Minecraft’s software is open source, meaning that anyone with the right technical knowledge can build upon it. And Minecraft doesn’t have an established economy like competitor Roblox, which has a robust virtual marketplace and its own (non-crypto) digital currency called Robux. NFT Worlds gives players a metaverse experience in an existing game, which is big news for Minecraft fans and NFT collectors alike.
In-game $WRLD purchasing, transactions & the P2E $WRLD layer will be rolling out soon. Completely frictionless, no gas required to spend/transact $WRLD in an NFT World.
In this demo video, we built a simple "Shop" using the $WRLD layer and bought an Apple in-game with $WRLD. pic.twitter.com/8XjCuzdkTG
— NFT Worlds (@nftworldsNFT) February 12, 2022
NFTs—unique blockchain-based tokens that signify ownership over an asset—can come in many forms. In the case of NFT Worlds, the NFTs are pieces of virtual land. There are 10,000 different Worlds, varying in appearance from snowy tundras to forest islands to massive volcanoes. The current floor price—or lowest price to buy immediately without bidding—for a piece of land is 14.5 Ethereum, or about $38,150.
Since Microsoft bought Minecraft’s developer Mojang Studios for a whopping $2.5 billion in 2014, Minecraft’s player base has grown. The game had 131 million monthly active users in 2020 and over 141 million monthly active users in 2021.
NFT Worlds has seen an uptick in interest as well, reporting that over 26,000 player hours were logged on a test server in a three-day period this month. And from January to February this year, the average price for an NFT World suddenly increased by 10 Ethereum ($26,000) after remaining largely stagnant for months.
While some might balk at paying upwards of $40,000 for a piece of virtual land, competing Ethereum metaverse game The Sandbox often commands much higher prices. Back in December, someone paid $450,000 for a small piece of virtual land next to rapper Snoop Dogg’s property in The Sandbox.
Compared to The Sandbox—whose economy is run by the $SAND token—NFT Worlds’ properties are exponentially larger.
In fact, ArkDev, co-founder of NFT Worlds, said in a Twitter Space on Wednesday that there are “concerns about the worlds being so humongously large.”
Here's a comparison of the playable size of 1 single NFT World vs The Sandbox & Decentraland.
This is not a joke.
If you've ever thought of where to build your metaverse project or your community's metaverse, etc...
We think you know who to pick 😉 pic.twitter.com/T92yeUMrIK
— NFT Worlds (@nftworldsNFT) January 4, 2022
NFT Worlds co-founder Temptranquil added that “without some kind of transportation or portal system, a player couldn’t just walk” across an entire piece of land in the game.
When it comes to future developments, the NFT Worlds team wants to make the game experience as low-gas and “frictionless” as possible by using an EIP-2771, an interface which can enable cheaper “meta transactions” on Ethereum. NFT Worlds also wants to create a “global auction house” of sorts, which will function as their online marketplace.
The co-founders chose to build on Minecraft because they see Microsoft as developer-friendly and less strict than competitors like Roblox.
“Minecraft has a really large, custom thriving game development system,” ArkDev said.
Microsoft appears to be supportive of metaverse thinking more broadly, as its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard last month was partly aimed at helping it develop “building blocks for the metaverse,” according to a press release at the time.
But building a Web3 world on top of an existing centralized game owned by a billion-dollar company isn’t without its risks. ArkDev and Temptranquil are well aware of the chance that they might “get rugged” by Microsoft, meaning that Microsoft could shut down their project at any time with legal action.
To prevent this, they maintain close contact with Microsoft reps to make sure they don’t violate Minecraft’s End User License Agreement (EULA) at any stage of development.
Minecraft’s EULA states that no one is allowed to “make commercial use of anything we’ve made” or “try to make money from anything we’ve made,” rules which could be applied against NFT Worlds in the future.
“We do work pretty closely with their IP enforcement team,” Tranquil said in the Twitter Space. “They’re in our Discord constantly, kind of reviewing our chat, and we have meetings with them.”
That being said, it’s unclear whether Microsoft approves of the project.
“They’re watching us from the sidelines—not like a formal green light—but I think in their eyes, we’re the best case scenario for someone using their product,” Tranquil said.
Minecraft’s global IP enforcement team has not yet responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.