Following Minecraft outright ban on NFTs in the game, some blockchain-based projects have been forced to find new homes. Case in point: NFT Worlds, a beleaguered metaverse game project that once allowed users to mint, buy, and trade various Minecraft-compatible 3D worlds. With the Minecraft ban in effect, the value of the $WRLD token owned by NFT Worlds immediately tanked, exacerbating the effects of an industry-wide downturn.
NFT Worlds saw this potentially catastrophic news as a wake-up call. Like many others in this bear market, the company has no choice but to keep building. in a long public statementthe NFT Worlds team announced that they are now in the process of creating their own version of Minecraft, complete with “the modernization and active development that Minecraft has been missing for years.”
But, this begs the question: Can NFT developers take on a project as broad as Minecraft?
when versus can
According to the NFT Worlds team, they have already begun bringing together “the best visionary developers within the Minecraft development ecosystem” to work on the project. Additionally, the team cites the support of a thriving community and “a war chest of funds to sustain us through the process.” Given these resources, the question is not Yes they may develop a viable Minecraft competitor to host their audience’s hand-built metaverse experiences in the future, but when.
Despite its trappings as a simple survival game for kids, the infrastructure that has allowed Minecraft to reach its current state won’t happen in a few months. In fact, even an experienced team of developers could take years to create and deploy such a complex architecture. While the core game has been redone with an estimated 500 lines of code in Python, other features key to the Minecraft experience will present any would-be developer with a unique set of challenges, including procedurally generated assets, infinitely recurring worlds, and a flexible set of creator tools.
Making a Web3-enabled game similar in spirit to Minecraft is going to be a Herculean effort just to pull it off, but it’s important that the NFT Worlds team take their time. Exactly how long is anyone’s guess, but for context, the sandbox — also a voxel-based game focused on player creativity — spent four years in development before the release of its alpha version.
Generally speaking, speeding up the development process of any type of game, Web3 or otherwise, does not bode well for the quality of the end product. Just look at the mainstream games industry for some notable examples of games being released in unfinished, unpolished states to hordes of angry gamers – 2021 had battlefield 20422020 had cyberpunk 20772018 had Fallout 76 – the list goes on.
A long wait begins
Even with recent policy changes, the worlds players have created will live on Minecraft. They are still allowed to trade and playable, according to the NFT Worlds press release. But it will no longer integrate blockchain-based functionality. Additionally, the NFT Worlds home and game pages will remain active and will be developed to introduce new non-crypto features to attract players while the next gaming platform is developed. Yet, NFT Worlds will have little else to cling to than the idealism of its player base until its Minecraft competitor’s alpha finally launches.
“Make no mistake, this is a web2 vs web3 battle,” said the NFT Worlds press release. “It’s a battle between two different visions of the future of the web: one that prioritizes shareholder value and profit margins above all else, and one that prioritizes the spirit of innovation through independent creators. It is both a philosophical conflict over what the Internet represents and a technological struggle over who will own the digital assets.”
While it’s a poignant mission statement, one wonders to what extent the initial model for NFT Worlds really embodied “the spirit of innovation.” There’s no doubt that NFT Worlds reported 100,000 users put a good deal of creativity into building new game modes and worlds using Minecraft as a canvas, but we can’t say the same for the project managers who precariously pinned all their hopes on which is, at the end of the day, someone else’s game.
In the worlds of NFT official documentation, this concern was addressed head-on. Why minecraft? Touting over a decade of experience modding and building on Minecraft as an open source platform, the NFT Worlds team stated, “When we started NFT Worlds, we knew that to compete in the rapidly expanding NFT metaverse gaming category we would need to push our vision by using an existing open source gaming ecosystem to create the thriving global community-driven development, community spaces, community-created games, and interconnected worlds we envision.”
“We didn’t want to have to ‘reinvent the wheel’ by creating our own untested game from scratch, while also having to innovate on NFT integration and the decentralized metaverse of the platform we envisioned. This would take too long to accomplish.”
We hope that the next game lives up to NFT Worlds’ vision of what Minecraft It should have been all this time. There are plenty of disappointments in the wake of the original game owners’ decision, but one silver lining remains: NFT Worlds will have more than enough time to realize their vision of the Minecraft experience on their own terms.