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In short

  • Rockstar Games has stated that NFTs and cryptocurrency can no longer be used on Grand Theft Auto V’s online servers.
  • Some online servers use NFTs and/or cryptographic tokens to represent unique item ownership or exclusive access.

Alongside fully Web3-native games built around NFTwe’ve also seen fan attempts to add NFTs and crypto tokens to popular online games like Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto V. But Microsoft has moved on to ban web3 elements from minecraft this summer, and now Rockstar Games has done the same with its popular action franchise.

Last week, Rockstar Games updated its website Stating that fan-operated servers for Grand Theft Auto V may no longer use cryptocurrencies or cryptographic assets, especially NFTs.

Fans have been running so-called “RPG servers” for Grand Theft Auto V for years, and they’ve been popular on streaming platforms such as Twitch. In role-playing game servers, which require a modification of the PC game made by fans, players take on the role of generally non-playable characters (NPCs) in the world and interact with each other online.

Some of these servers have implemented NFTs and crypto tokens as a way to give players ownership of unique assets in a persistent game world, or to provide certain exclusive benefits to regular players. In some instances, Grand Theft Auto V servers offered special cars and weapons represented as NFT assets.

Popular rapper Durk “Lil Durk” Banks recently launched his own GTA roleplaying server with NFT assets, called Trenches. On Saturday, Lil Durk’s Only the Family Gaming organization tweeted that it would take down the server following contact with legal counsel for Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive.

“We have no choice but to comply with their demands, as we intend to do well with Take-Two and Rockstar,” the statement read. “We will work with them to find an amicable solution to this matter.”

Other popular modded servers may cross the same line. In September, Decrypt written about Brazilian Loud Gaming Organization and its Web3-centric parent company, Spacecaps. The company’s Snackclub division operates a GTA server called Cidade Alta, which uses NFTs for exclusive items. Another company, MyMetaverse, runs a GTA server with NFTs powered by Enjin’s Enjinverse platform on Spotted.

Decrypt contacted representatives for Spacecaps, Enjin, and Rockstar Games, but did not immediately receive comment from any of them.

An NFT is a blockchain token that can be used to represent ownership of a single item, such as playable video game assets, artwork, and collectibles. The technology can power games in which users own and can trade or sell their own assets, such as Axie Infinitywhich has generated over $4 billion in NFT transaction volume—but struggled since its dazzling success last year.

In July, Microsoft and developer Mojang announced plans to ban NFTs and crypto tokens from fan-run Minecraft servers, as well as banning unofficial Web3 spin-off projects that use Minecraft assets. In a post, the companies said NFT scarcity models that limit asset owners’ access or abilities go against “the spirit of Minecraft.”

The ban itself has yet to be enacted. This decision had an impact on the development of NFT Worldsan unofficial spin-off game being built on the Ethereum scaling network, Polygon. The game will instead be developed on its own platform instead of being built on Minecraft.

Both Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto V are huge hits. These are two of the best-selling games of all time, with Minecraft selling 238 million copies (from April 2021) followed by Grand Theft Auto V with 170 million copies sold (since this month).

Interestingly, Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive, is actually passionate about NFTs and crypto technology. The company acquired mobile/casual games studio Zynga earlier this year with plans to collectively explore “Web3 opportunities”, as Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick claimed in January. Additionally, Take-Two recently invested in NFT Horizon game studio.

The popular PC gaming marketplace and platform Steam has also Prohibited NFTs and cryptographic elements to be included in the games. However, rival platform Epic Games Store embraced Web3 games compliant with its regulations and laws, with titles such as Blankos Block Party and star atlas showcase launch.

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