Disclaimer: This is my personal perspective on things, not an official Mojang statement. The reason it matters to say this is that I was at home with a bad fever during the events of most of this, and I almost certainly don’t have the full story.
Mojang exists because I got lucky with Minecraft and it got way bigger than I could handle on my own. Mojang has people working with business contracts, taxes, support, lawyering and office management, but most people make games. Mojang exists because we want to have fun businessing contracts, taxing, supporting, lawyeringing, office managing, and most importantly, making games. We make a lot of money because Minecraft is a huge phenomenon and we’ve got extremely passionate and friendly fans who make the game the phenomenon it is, and we’re very fortunate and grateful, but it’s not what drives us.
Mojang does not exist to make as much money as possible for the owners. As the majority shareholder, I’d know. Every time a big money making deal comes up that would make a lot of money, it’s of course very tempting, but at the end of the day we choose to do what either makes the most sense for our products, or the things that seem like fun for us at Mojang.
The EULA for Minecraft says you can’t make money of Minecraft. If you make mods, they have to be free. If you host a server, you can charge for access to your hardware, but not for individual elements in the game. Once YouTube and streaming got bigger, we added specific exceptions saying you can totally monetize video content about the game.
Some privately run Minecraft servers do charge for ingame items, for xp boosts, for access to certain game modes. Some of them even charge quite a lot. I don’t even know how many emails we’ve gotten from parents, asking for their hundred dollars back their kid spent on an item pack on a server we have no control over. This was never allowed, but we didn’t crack down on it because we’re constantly incredibly swamped in other work.
Someone saw that the EULA says you can’t charge for these things, and asked one of the people working at Mojang about it. That person said that yes, it is indeed against the rules, and then everything exploded. A lot of people got the impression that we’re changing the EULA somehow to only now disallow these things, but they were never allowed. A lot of people voiced their concerns. A few people got nasty. Someone said we’re literally worse than EA.
We had discussions about it internally, and eventually had a big meeting where we said that yes, people running servers are a huge part of what makes Minecraft so special, and that they need to be able to pay for the servers. So we came up with all sorts of ways this could be done without ruining the “you don’t pay for gameplay” aspect of Minecraft we all find so important. These rules we’re posted in non-legal speak here: mojang.com/2014/06/lets-talk-server-monetisation (our lawyers are probably having a lot of fun trying to turn that into legal text). There are new rules. These are new exceptions to the EULA. All of these make the rules more liberal than things were before.
People are still asking me to change back to the old EULA. That makes me sad.
also herobrine is not real please stop asking argh