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The Lawsuit Between Minecraft and Mini World Ended, Both Sides Think They Won

By Johnson Ge
Dec. 5, 2022 updated 05:30

On November 30th, the years-long copyright lawsuits between Minecraft China and Mini World came to an end. However, according to the announcement sent by both sides, they each believe they are the winners of this lawsuit.

Minecraft is a sandbox game developed by Mojang Studios that was released fully in 2011. In 2017, Minecraft China, the localized edition for China, was released under a licensing agreement between NetEase and Mojang. Mini World is a Chinese sandbox game developed by Miniwan and released in 2015. Mini World shares many features in common with Minecraft.

In 2019, NetEase sued Miniwan for plagiarism of Minecraft China. It has been a long trial as both sides held their ground. Since then, discussions about whether Mini World plagiarized Minecraft have been unending among players on both sides.

On November 30th, Mini World posted an announcement on Weibo, saying, “The court confirmed Mini World did not violate Minecraft’s game art assets. NetEase’s claim made in an attempt to shut down the operation of Mini World has been rejected. Mini World will keep operating as normal.” Though, for some reason, Mini World has hidden all comments on the announcement.

 A screenshot on Weibo shows there are over 2K comments but all are hidden. A screenshot on Weibo shows there are over 2K comments but all are hidden.

From their announcement, it feels like the Mini World game provider has won the trial. But when we take a look at the other side, it is a completely different story.

On the same day, Minecraft China shared the announcements of the higher people's court of Guangdong province and said, “It is a victory for all the adventurers”. In the final trial, the court made the judgment that Mini World’s operation constituted unfair competition. The similarity of core features and details between the two games is beyond the range of coincidence or usage for reference. The court sentenced Miniwan to remove 230 plagiarized elements in Mini World along with a 50 million CNY fine (~7 million USD). The largest such fine among video game infringement cases in China.

On the other hand, the court believed the art style and graphical performance between the two games were quite different, so Miniwan has not violated the game asset copyright of NetEase.

Many people think Miniwan’s announcement picks and chooses in an attempt to whitewash the result into a victory. Some have also pointed out that the game Mini Word has over 3 billion downloads, and according to the court, “The game’s profit is far beyond the fine”. Some believe that since Miniwan will continue operating Mini World, it won’t be tough for them to make another 50 million profit and fill the gap.

Source: Weibo