Rockstar is the latest AAA game developer to take a stand on the inclusion of NFTs and cryptocurrencies existing on community-made and run servers, announcing an outright ban on them in a recent article.
In July 2022, we saw Mojang Studios, the creators of Minecraft, announce a ban on all NFTs and cryptocurrencies on Minecraft servers. This move came off the back of some successful community servers that were integrating NFTs in the form of land and items. Many of these servers were full-blown projects, such as Uplift World, and were put in a difficult situation where they had to migrate their game elsewhere or their communities were left with valueless NFTs.
This change in Mojang’s policy prompted me to write an article on the ramifications of creating projects on games such as Minecraft: Minecraft Bans NFTs: The Dangers of Digital Sharecropping. Uplift World was and is far from alone in this regard — they’re in reasonably good company — and it led me to conclude the above article in the following way:
We are seeing a spate of Minecraft servers looking to integrate NFTs, as well as private servers for other games such as Grand Theft Auto V. This strikes me as unstable foundations, particularly when you are selling NFTs for your game, and Minecraft has just demonstrated how disastrous it can be.
The building of a business on someone else’s land is risky in many regards, but when you factor in the volatile and polarizing sector of crypto, as well as the hostility toward NFTs by many gamers, these projects are asking for trouble. And trouble they have received, again.
Rockstar’s Ban on Cryptocurrencies and NFTs
This isn’t the first time Rockstar has made headlines involving crypto, though it is the first time they have with their own words. Earlier this year, we saw a rumor catch fire across Twitter and several media outlets that GTA VI will include cryptocurrencies in some form. The rumor came from a gargantuan document that was leaked about the in-development GTA. The line — and it was only one line — that caught the eyes of Web3 was ” Money comes in three forms: bank balance, cash, and cryptocurrency.”
Now, this could mean that crypto is implemented in GTA VI, it could mean that a fake cryptocurrency (i.e an off-chain, in-name-only crypto) is in the game as another form of currency, or it could be neither. Whatever the case, Rockstar’s stance on NFTs and crypto is still largely unknown, though we now have an official position on crypto within private GTA V servers.
I had always been concerned that Rockstar Games, like many game developers who run into this situation, would begin shutting down private, community-run servers of their game. To my surprise and pleasure, Rockstar chalked up private servers as “reasonable fan creativity” and allow them to exist, within reason (it isn’t the licensing out of GTA V.)
Roleplay servers are a type of private server that has seen wild success, breathing new life into an undeniably aging — albeit iconic — game. You will regularly see streamers topping the Twitch charts by viewers playing on these roleplay servers. It is indeed these sorts of servers that have begun attracting Web3 gaming projects and now Rockstar has drawn the line. Take-Two’s legal enforcement policy has some stipulations that are essentially rules for if you want to continue to run a private GTA V server. On the 18th November 2022, these rules were listed on Rockstar’s Support section, with one being pertinent:
(iii) commercial exploitation, including the sale of “loot boxes” for real-world currency or its in-game equivalent, the sale of virtual currencies, generating revenue via corporate sponsorships or in-game integrations, or the use of cryptocurrencies or crypto assets (e.g. “NFTs”)
— Rockstar Games/Take-Two
This will mark the end of the few GTA V-based Web3 projects that have emerged and put the developers in a similar predicament to the same ban Mojang Studios implemented with Minecraft. As I mentioned with the Minecraft ban, I don’t believe Web3 citizens ought to demonize the developers for this decision. Without careful regulation, NFTs and crypto could be used to exploit the players or cause harm to them, which would in turn reflect poorly on Rockstar. I also do not believe it is indicative of whether Rockstar will implement any blockchain technology in GTA VI.