This hurts my heart...
Updated: Aug 23, 2022
Living in America I don't really think about the cost of many things in other countries. I know it never crossed my mind when I purchased both my kids Minecraft premium accounts and then later bought one for myself.
As a parent and a Patreon of Autcraft - reading this post from Stuart, or AutismFather as he is known on Autcraft, breaks my heart. 💔 Stuart created Autcraft as a place for children with ASD and their families. But even those not on the spectrum are speaking out as we have found out in the last couple of weeks. Maybe Mojang and Microsoft will come forward with a solution. A gifting solution would seem quite simple.
This has been a very heart breaking week
A week ago, a Spanish YouTuber named Bobicraft made a video about Autcraft, explaining how safe it is, some of the features of the server, sharing some of our publicity. It was a very thoughtful video has received a lot of attention, garnering over 900k views so far. The moment I saw the video, I knew instantly that I was in for a rough time, figuring I'd have to deny lots of kids because Autcraft is English only and clearly, they'd be Spanish speakers. However... it was much, much worse than I imagined.
Over the last week, we've received literally thousands of applications. More than I had anticipated. Each night I go to bed and wake up with just as many applications as I had to do the day before. They are still coming in that fast. And as I expected, I am having to deny almost all of them. But not for the reason I thought.
When I first started going through applications, I found that none of the names were in Mojang's database, meaning I couldn't add them to our server. It would literally say "Player not found." I thought this was because they were all Bedrock (console/mobile) players but that's not it... as it turns out, they all play on hacked clients with fake accounts. They didn't pay for them.
The reason for this is that the Java version of the game is only available in one place for one price, world wide. At minecraft.net, you can buy the game for about $30 USD. If you go there from another country, it converts that price into your currency but you still pay $30 USD. This means that in poorer countries, they still have to pay what I pay. Here's the problem with that:
In USD, the average monthly income in Columbia is just $1200. The average monthly income in Brazil is $450. In Ecuador, some people only bring in $300 per month.
We've even heard from players in the Philippines, where the average monthly income is just $268.
As you can imagine, paying $30 for a Java account is just not possible.
It Gets Worse
These people love Minecraft, they love the game itself and the ability to play with others around the world, as do many of us. However, needing to resort to a fake account means that they don't get access to the "premium" servers, which includes Autcraft. Players with "non-premium" accounts are forced to play on offline servers, those that don't check users against Mojang's database. These offline servers are generally unregulated and unmoderated. Owners can't ban players even if they wanted to because there's no real account to ban. I discovered that these players were using these accounts once the emails, messages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even my YouTube channel started coming in. Young players, older players, parents... literally pleading with us to let them in.
The reason that we've been getting so many applications isn't because the video had so many views, it's because these people are desperate. They've been forced to play on toxic and chaotic servers because they can't get access to places that care or that can do anything about the toxicity. We're not just hearing from autistic players, although there are a lot, we're also hearing from so many who are not autistic who tell us that they just want somewhere "quiet" and "calm." These kids are dying. Literally. I mean, of course it's not all on this one thing, they do live in poor countries and life is hard, but then they turn to Minecraft, to the world online, and they're treated terribly, told to kill themselves, and hated so much.
No Easy Answer
My heart has been breaking all week. It's even worse when they comment. Just a moment ago, a comment came back on an application for a 12 year old Spanish child who wants so badly to join us, but doesn't have a premium account, and all they said was "ok thank you" with a couple of crying emojis after it.
These are good kids who are suffering through no fault of their own. And it breaks my heart every single time I have to deny them because I know exactly what I'm sending them back to. Recently I've talked with Mojang and explained all of this to them. I am begging them to add in regional pricing for Java Minecraft, make it affordable in impoverished nations, I want gifting options so that we can buy an account and gift it to someone in need, and I'm asking for bulk purchasing options so that we can buy lots of accounts at once, for cheaper, and get those to people.
Recently Mojang accounts have begun migrating to Microsoft accounts so I think this is the perfect time to migrate Java pricing into Microsoft's powerhouse system and make it more affordable for those who can't pay what I pay. Mojang is pretty awesome and they do care. They really listened. But even if they can do these things, it will take time.
Time that I fear some of those kids don't have.
Maybe I'm just more emotional than an average guy should be but this has truly been one of the hardest weeks for me since starting Autcraft. I just hate, hate, hate, having to let these kids down.
Oh, and to those of you in those countries, who don't have access to these things, who only want to to be able to join us, we hear you. We want to help. We are not going to give up.