Rockstar Games Bans NFTs, Crypto From Grand Theft Auto Fan Servers

Rockstar Games Bans NFTs, Crypto From Grand Theft Auto Fan Servers

In short

  • Rockstar Games said that NFTs and cryptocurrency can no longer be used on online Grand Theft Auto V servers.
  • Some web servers use NFTs and/or crypto-tokens to represent ownership of unique items or exclusive access.

Right next to it Web3-native games built around NFTswe’ve also seen fan-driven attempts to add NFTs and crypto tokens to popular online games like Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto V. But Microsoft moved to ban Web3 elements from Minecraft this summer, and now Rockstar Games has done the same with its popular action series.

Last week, Rockstar Games updated their website to stipulate that fan-operated servers for Grand Theft Auto V can no longer use cryptocurrencies or crypto-assets, specifically NFTs.

Fans have been running so-called “role-playing servers” for Grand Theft Auto V for years, and they’re popular on streaming platforms like Twitch. In RPG servers, which require a fan-made modification of the PC game, players assume the role of typically 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 examples, Grand Theft Auto V servers have offered special cars and weapons represented as NFT resources.

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

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“We have no choice but to comply with their demands, as we intend to do justice to Take-Two and Rockstar,” the statement said. “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 wrote about Brazilian gaming organization Loud and its Web3-centric parent company, Spacecaps. The firm’s Snackclub division runs a GTA server called Cidade Alta, which uses NFTs for exclusive items.

Loud co-founder Matthew Ho told Decrypt today that it will make the necessary changes to its server within 14 days, after receiving notification from Rockstar Games about a violation of the terms of service.

“Modded experiences in our server were created for experimental/proof of concept and were in no way core to the original experience,” Ho told Decrypt. “We have validated an interesting model and look forward to applying these lessons to new platforms.”

Another company, MyMetaverse, runs a GTA server with NFTs powered by Enjin’s Enjinverse platform at Polka dot. Decrypt contacted Enjin and Rockstar Games representatives, but did not immediately hear back from either.

An NFT is a blockchain token that can be used to represent ownership in a unique item, such as playable video game assets, artwork, and collectibles. The technology can drive games where users own and can trade or sell their own assets, such as Axie Infinitywhich generated over $4 billion in NFT trading volume—but have struggled since its explosive success last year.

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

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The ban itself has not yet been adopted. The move affected the development of NFT Worldsan unofficial derivative game that was built on the Ethereum scaling network, Polygon. The game will instead be developed on its own platform rather than being built on top of Minecraft.

Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto V are both huge hits. They are two of the best-selling games of all time, with Minecraft selling 238 million copies (from April 2021) and Grand Theft Auto V follows with 170 million copies sold (starting this month).

Interestingly, Rockstar parent company Take-Two Interactive is actually into NFTs and crypto technology. The company bought mobile/casual game studio Zynga earlier this year with plans to jointly explore “Web3 opportunities” as Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick claimed in January. In addition, Take-Two recently invested in NFT game studio Horizon.

Popular PC game market and platform Steam also has banned NFTs and crypto items from being included in games. However, rival platform Epic Games Store has embraced Web3 gaming which complies with its regulations and laws, with titles such as Blanko’s Block Party and Star atlas launch on the store front.

Editor’s note: This article was updated after publication to add commentary from Loud.

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