EULA: The Follow-up Discussion

I am back as a guest contributor for CraftBuzz, with the topic I previously wrote about: the EULA. In my last discussion, I presented the issues with the existing EULA. I documented the opinions of both Mojang and the average server owner and talked about how the EULA affected voting (for more information on why the EULA is such a controversial topic, see my last blog post). But today, I would like to actually delve into reasonable consequences as dictated by EULA, rather than simply blacklisting any non-compliant servers. There have been suggestions in the past, and the majority primarily depend on Microsoft’s compliance. I think, as a whole, server owners could agree to some variation of the solutions listed here, although it is up to the general public to decide.

My first proposed solution is for Microsoft to receive a residual for each sale a server makes. Microsoft could charge a royalty of approximately 10% on any product that violates the EULA. This way, products can still get sold, but on a ‘fined basis,’ where one would not earn as much money. Let’s analyze the pros and cons of this solution. An obvious advantage is that, of course, you’d get to sell items that are against the EULA. You would have the freedom to offer game-changing items, thus increasing your revenue, and Mojang would still earn money from the product. This way, everybody wins: the players who want to purchase these items, the servers that want to sell them, and the corporate heads at Mojang/Microsoft. I feel it’s a somewhat viable option that we can delve into further. However, a disadvantage of this plan is that it places more power in Microsoft’s hands, which would be considerably more than at present. Additionally, we don’t even know if Microsoft’s enforcement of the EULA is fueled by their wish to capture profits (though many players speculate that it is so). Even if that is not the case, and Microsoft is simply trying to do what is best for their players, this specific plan may not work as intended.

Another solution we can contemplate is holding a ‘debate’ of sorts and compromising on what is exactly defined as a ‘game changing feature.’ While I won’t present my direct arguments here, this would be a good compromise for both the server public and Microsoft. This way, those items that change the game unfairly can remain banned, but owners can slightly increase their revenue by offering items which aren’t as dramatically game-changing. Again, there are several pros and cons to this: the former, obviously, is that at the very least we get to sell some items, and we do get more money for it. An obvious downside to this approach is that it’s not a perfect system—nowhere near. We would only be making a fraction of what we could be earning if we chose the original proposed solution.

My third and final proposed solution is not a particularly attractive one—it would require users to boycott Minecraft until a change is made in the EULA. If our community banded together and took all of our servers offline for, say, a day, it would show Mojang and Microsoft that we urgently need change. With this option, we’ll have a larger community backing. This would show Mojang that both players and owners alike feel deeply about the conflict and that they possess the capability to make a forceful show of solidarity. Unfortunately, it is possible that Microsoft can just choose to ignore this boycott. Microsoft holds the platform from which the majority of server owners profit, and since the servers all provide the bulk of the owners’ income, they’d soon need to be reinstated. Moreover, Microsoft theoretically could shut down the entire industry in a matter of moments. As such, they can use that ability as a looming threat against server owners who rebel through any sort of boycott, making it a somewhat unsafe option for the community at large.

Personally, I believe the first proposed solution has the most potential out of any of these options. While none are perfect alternatives, I feel the first makes the most sense. The second option doesn’t appeal to me as considerably as the first because, for the amount we’d be making, the effort isn’t worth it. Finally, the third option is unsafe for the server owners who financially depend on Minecraft to make a living. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.

Until next time,

chump Written by:

Hey there, I'm Nathan. I'm a gaming enthusiast and prospective law student working with servers on EULA compliance.