Paid ads no longer allowed on Microsoft's Minecraft gaming platform

Company says branded messages didn't feel "right" or "fun"

Advertisers who want to reach fans of the popular online game Minecraft will need to look for other outlets. Mojang, the Microsoft- owned software developer behind the game, issued an update to its Commercial Usage Guidelines on Tuesday that bans in-game paid advertisements, even by non-profits or political campaigns.

A blog post on the company’s website by Owen Hill, director of creative communications at Mojang, singled out ad agencies, corporations, non-profits and politicians that have been building advertisements in the low-res multiplayer game, which has hundreds of millions of registered users. These organizations will no longer be able to create ads or pay anyone else to create ads using Minecraft software.

"We want to empower our community to make money from their creativity, but we’re not happy when the selling of an unrelated product becomes the purpose of a Minecraft mod or server," Hill wrote. "That doesn’t feel right, or more importantly, fun."

Minecraft is a freeform gaming platform that allows users to create environments using pixilated blocks. With enough patience and creativity, users can build enormous and complicated structures one block at a time, including messages that spell out brand names or faithful re-creations of fictional locations.

Disney, for example, has worked with third-party digital creators to build an online version of Tomorrowland, the city from the eponymous film.

Verizon has also worked with multiple builders to create functional mobile phones within the game.

None of those activations would have been allowed under the new rules, though it’s unclear whether any builds that are already active will be forced to shut down, or if there is any timeline for that kind of action.

Hill was careful to point out that other kinds of monetization, like ads running on videos of Minecraft builds, won’t be affected by the new rules. Neither will fans who want to create ads or branded content of their own accord, without being paid. Certainly, there are IPs with enough of a hardcore fanbase to make that happen:

Microsoft bought Mojang two years ago for $2.5 billion. Since then, it has rapidly expanded the platform’s user base, and recently announced it is planning to introduce the game to the Chinese market.

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