Today, Mojang updated the Commercial Usage Guidelines for Minecraft, preventing commercial entities from promoting themselves in-game through the use of mods or maps. The change is not expected to touch server and video monetization, but instead is aimed at companies trying to advertise within Minecraft. Mojang wants Minecraft to be for fans, not promotion from ad agencies, corporations, non-profits, or politicians.
"The number of Minecraft players has grown massively over the past few years. In fact, it's now so big that Minecraft has become a viable place for companies to advertise unrelated products or for organizations to promote their causes," wrote Mojang director of communications Owen Hill in an official blog post on the change.
"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. That doesn't feel right, or more importantly, fun. The new rules are an attempt to stop these things from happening."
Hill goes on to list a number of examples that are no longer allowed under the new guidelines. If you're a movie studio that builds a Minecraft map out of your film's world or a restaurant chain releasing a mod that lets players build your restaurant in game, you're out of luck. If you're a fan doing these things on your own, Mojang is more than happy to let these things continue.
It's likely that these rules are coming down from on high to force corporate entities to work with Mojang and Microsoft for Minecraft promotions. There are already a ton of official skins for the game tied to properties like Doctor Who, Marvel Studios, Star Wars, The Simpsons, Mass Effect, and Skyrim. Microsoft bought Mojang and Minecraft for $2.5 billion, it's going to make sure it can keep making money off of the game.
Surprisingly, the fan response has been negative. It's unknown how many map or mod developers were using Minecraft work as a legitimate revenue stream, but it seems a number of community favorites were in that category. There's also been some grey areas brought up, like charity work. The guidelines will probably be updated in the future to allow options like charity, but I doubt Mojang will allow straight up commericial mods and maps anytime soon.