Microsoft’s Minecraft goes Web3 with ‘NFT Worlds’ on Polygon

The sandbox-style video game Minecraft, released in 2011, gets a Web3 updated thanks to a few developers not affiliated with Microsoft.

NFT Worlds is a project built on third-party Minecraft servers with a Polygon-based overlay. Polygon is a Ethereum side chain who offers less gas fees (i.e. transaction fees) for users. NFT Worlds’ block chain layer on Minecraft will allow players to access Web3 features, such as an online store where they can purchase items for their Minecraft experience using the $WRLD ERC-20 token.

Some Minecraft software is open-source, meaning anyone with the right technical knowledge can take advantage of it. And Minecraft doesn’t have an established economy like its competitor Roblox, which has a robust virtual marketplace and its own (uncrypted) digital currency called Robux. NFT Worlds gives players a metaverse experience in an existing game, which is great news for Minecraft fans and NFT collectors.

NFT– unique blockchain-based tokens that signify ownership of an asset – can take many forms. In the case of NFT Worlds, NFTs are virtual lands. There are 10,000 different worlds, varying in appearance from snowy tundras for forest islands for massive volcanoes. The current floor price – or the lowest price to buy immediately without bidding – for a piece of land is 14.5 Ethereum, or around $38,150.

Ever since Microsoft bought Minecraft developer Mojang Studios for a whopping $2.5 billion in 2014, Minecraft’s player base grew. The game had 131 million monthly active users in 2020 and more 141 million monthly active users in 2021.

NFT Worlds has also seen a surge in interest, reporting that over 26,000 player hours were logged on a test server over a three-day period this month. And from January to February of this year, the average price of an NFT World suddenly increased by 10 Ethereum ($26,000) after remaining largely flat for months.

While some might be hesitant to pay more than $40,000 for virtual land, Ethereum metaverse game rival The sandbox often command much higher prices. 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 driven by the $SAND token—the properties of NFT Worlds are exponentially larger.

In fact, ArkDev, co-founder of NFT Worlds, said in a Twitter space on Wednesday that there are “concerns that worlds are so huge.”

NFT Worlds co-founder Temptranquil added that “without some sort of transportation system or portal, a player couldn’t just walk” across an entire terrain in the game.

Regarding future developments, the NFT Worlds team wants to make the gaming experience as low on gas and “without friction» as possible using a EIP-2771, an interface that can enable cheaper “meta transactions” on Ethereum. NFT Worlds also wants to create a kind of “global auction house”, which will function as their online marketplace.

The co-founders chose to rely on Minecraft because they see Microsoft as developer-friendly and less stringent than competitors like Roblox.

“Minecraft has a very large and thriving custom game development system,” ArkDev said.

Microsoft seems to be in favor of a broader reflection on the metaverse, because its $68.7 billion Activision Blizzard’s acquisition last month was partly to help 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 is not without its risks. ArkDev and Temptranquil are well aware of the possibility that they will be “reinforced” by Microsoft, which means that Microsoft could stop their project at any time with legal action.

To prevent this, they maintain close contact with Microsoft representatives to ensure that they do not violate Minecraft rules. 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 that could be enforced against NFT Worlds in the future.

“We work closely with their IP enforcement team,” Tranquil said in the Twitter space. “They’re constantly on our Discord, revisiting our chat, and we have meetings with them.”

That being said, it’s unclear if Microsoft approves of the project.

“They’re watching us from behind the scenes — not as a formal green light — but I think in their eyes we’re the best-case scenario for someone using their product,” Tranquil said.

The Minecraft Global Intellectual Property Enforcement Team has yet to respond to Decryptrequest for comment.

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