Brand marketers love the popular online world-building game Minecraft, which has sold more than 70 million copies so far. Thanks to its loose restrictions against branded content, many brands have taken the chance to build branded maps and mods to reach its young and growing player base. For example, Verizon created a working video phone and Walt Disney made an elaborate Tomorrowland map to promote the eponymous movie last year.
That free reign has come to an end this week as Microsoft announced it will start limiting the ways brands can use Minecraft for promotional purposes. Companies are now no longer allowed to make mods that promote products unrelated to the game. Entertainment brands are also barred from making Minecraft items or maps that look like “the fictional world of a movie or its characters.”
Why Brands Should Care
According to Microsoft, the decision stems from user complaints about excessive in-game advertising. Players are annoyed that the virtual world of Minecraft is increasingly littered with branded objects and demanded restricting this type of product placement. As Microsoft tightens the rules on branded content in Minecraft, brand marketers should actively explore other gaming channels to reach the young-skewing audience that Minecraft delivers, such as sponsoring eSports tournament events or livestreams on Twitch.