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Start building: The Minecraft Realms server service is online in North America

Above: Block-building indie phenomenon Minecraft.

Image Credit: Mojang

You don’t have to run your own Minecraft server any longer.

Developer Mojang revealed today that it has unleashed Realms on North American players. This service enables fans of the open-world block builder to easily create and maintain an online world that they and their friends can access from anywhere. For $13 a month, Minecrafters on the PC (sorry console and mobile builders) get a subscription to Realms as well as powerful tools to control and restore the world in the event that something goes wrong. This is likely the simplest solution yet for PC Minecraft players looking to get into online multiplayer action.

“Realms is the easiest way for you to host a Minecraft world online,” Mojang spokesperson Owen Hill wrote in a blog post. “You and your friends can work on an awesome creation, adventure into the depths, or play one of our featured mini-games with just a few clicks.”

Naturally, gamers can pay for a few more months upfront to get a discount on the Realms services. A three-month subscription saves customers 10 percent and costs $35 while a six-month agreement is $62 and saves players 20 percent.

Of course, many Minecraft fans long ago turned to operating their own server. Players have had that option since the block-builder was in its prerelease alpha-testing stages in 2009. Realms, according to Mojang, is much more about streamlining the process for the millions of families who enjoy the Lego-like PC release but who don’t want to have to deal with managing their own hardware or going through a third-party service.

The studio gets that and is striving to make it something that’s easy to use.

“Realms is run by Mojang and simple to set up,” said Hill. “The servers are always available and can be restored to an earlier point if something goes wrong.”

Only one person will need a subscription to Realms, and then any of their friends or family can access that world without having to subscribe themselves. That means you could join a friend’s world, destroy his buildings, and never pay a cent. Your friend, however, will have the ability to block you from his game and also to load a previous save that undoes all of your chaotic evil.

In addition to North America, the Swedish-based developer has also launched Realms in the following territories:

  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Greenland
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • The Åland Islands
  • The Cayman Islands
  • The Faroe Island
  • The Isle of Man
  • The Netherlands
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom

Mojang is likely one of the few indie developers that has a game popular enough to warrant this kind of service. The developer has sold more than 14 million copies of the blocky adventure game on the PC so far (more than 35 million overall).

While Realms offers easy multiplayer gaming for PC gamers, Minecraft owners on console (like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3) have enjoyed online gaming sessions from the start, but those world require the owner to have Minecraft running and connected at all times for their friends to have access. On PC, the idea is that the world is always online and available whether the owner is connected or not.

More information:

Mojang AB is a Swedish independent video game developer founded in May 2009 under the name Mojang Specifications by Markus Persson, and most known for creating the popular independent game Minecraft, which is a free-to-build sandbox ga... read more »

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