With 'NFT Worlds' on Polygon, Microsoft's Minecraft goes Web3

Two unaffiliated Microsoft developers have created a blockchain overlay for Minecraft.

Minecraft, a sandbox-style computer game published in 2011, is getting a Web3 update due to a few unaffiliated developers.

NFT Worlds is a project based on third-party Minecraft servers that features a Polygon-based overlay. Polygon is an Ethereum sidechain that promises customers lower gas prices (i.e., transaction fees). The blockchain layer atop Minecraft created by NFT Worlds will allow users to access Web3 features such as an online shop where they can purchase stuff for their Minecraft experience using the $WRLD ERC-20 token.

Some of Minecraft's software is open source, which means that anyone with the necessary technical skills can build on it. And, unlike competitor Roblox, which has a large virtual marketplace and its own (non-crypto) digital currency called Robux, Minecraft does not have an established economy. NFT Worlds provides players with a metaverse experience within an existing game, which is exciting news for both Minecraft enthusiasts and NFT collectors.

NFTs, or unique blockchain-based tokens that represent ownership of an asset, can take several forms. In the case of NFT Worlds, the NFTs are virtual plots of land. There are 10,000 separate Worlds, each with its own distinct appearance, ranging from frozen tundras to forest islands to huge volcanoes. The current floor price for a plot of land is 14.5 Ethereum, or around $38,150.

Minecraft's player population has expanded since Microsoft purchased the game's developer, Mojang Studios, for a stunning $2.5 billion in 2014. In 2020, the game had 131 million monthly active players, and by 2021, it had more than 141 million monthly active users.

NFT Worlds has also experienced an increase in interest, with over 26,000 player hours logged on a test server in a three-day period this month. And, after being essentially unchanged for months, the average price for an NFT World jumped by 10 Ethereum ($26,000) from January to February of this year.

While some may object to paying upwards of $40,000 for a piece of virtual land, The Sandbox, a competitive Ethereum metaverse game, frequently attracts even greater prices. Someone paid $450,000 for a little piece of virtual land near to rapper Snoop Dogg's residence in The Sandbox in December.

In comparison to The Sandbox, whose economy is powered by the $SAND token, NFT Worlds' attributes are orders of magnitude larger.

Indeed, ArkDev, co-founder of NFT Worlds, stated on Wednesday in a Twitter Space that there are "concerns about the worlds being so humongously vast."

Temptranquil, co-founder of NFT Worlds, adding that "a person couldn't just stroll" over an entire area of land in the game "without some form of transportation or portal mechanism."

In terms of future developments, the NFT Worlds team hopes to make the game experience as low-gas and "frictionless" as possible by utilizing an EIP-2771, an interface that allows for cheaper "meta transactions" on Ethereum. NFT Worlds also intends to establish a "global auction house" that will serve as their online marketplace.

The co-founders selected Minecraft because they regard Microsoft as more developer-friendly and less stringent than competitors such as Roblox.

"Minecraft has a pretty broad, custom-thriving game creation framework," ArkDev explained.

Microsoft looks to be a supporter of metaverse thought in general, as its $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard last month was targeted in part at assisting it in developing "building blocks for the metaverse," according to a press release at the time.

Building a Web3 world on top of an existing centralized game controlled by a billion-dollar firm, on the other hand, is fraught with danger. ArkDev and Temptranquil are well aware of the possibility of "being rugged" by Microsoft, which means that Microsoft could shut down their project at any time by legal action.

To avoid this, they keep in close contact with Microsoft representatives to ensure that they do not infringe the End User License Agreement (EULA) of Minecraft at any level of development.

The EULA for Minecraft specifies that no one is permitted to "make commercial use of anything we've created" or "attempt to make money from anything we've created," prohibitions that could be applied to NFT Worlds in the future.

"We do work quite closely with their IP enforcement staff," Tranquil stated on Twitter. "They're constantly in our Discord, sort of reviewing our chat, and we have meetings with them."

Having said that, it's unclear whether Microsoft is on board with the project.

"They're monitoring us from the sidelines—not with an official green light, but I think in their perspective, we're the best case scenario for someone utilizing their product," Tranquil explained.

Decrypt's request for comment has yet to be addressed to by Minecraft's worldwide IP enforcement team.

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