Subscription service Minecraft Realms will let you host worlds online for friends

Mojang says it could make more money than game sales.

There's a Minecraft subscription service on the cards.

Dubbed Minecraft Realms, it will let you pay to own an online Minecraft world (on PC or mobile) that your friends can join free of charge. The monthly fee, reported GamesIndustry International, will be between $10 and $15.

Hosting an online Minecraft world at the moment is a tricky business. You need to run Minecraft server code on a computer, which other computers connect to. This requires strong internet capabilities, strong processing power and relatively strong computer know-how. It's not for everyone.

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Creepery!

That's why a cottage industry of third-party Minecraft servers has sprung up. Minecraft Realms is a way for Mojang to bring that industry in house and make money from it.

The benefits of private, controlled servers will be particularly felt by parents, according to Mojang CEO Carl Manneh. One person can subscribe, set up a secure world and have their children and their children's friends connect free of charge. And schools could do the same sort of thing. Or, a group of friends could share a Realms sub and have their own world.

The slightly greedy side to this - what sounds like a nice and needed service - is that Mojang stands to make loads of money from it. In fact, Carl Manneh thinks Minecraft Realms will be "the biggest source of income in the future, and bring in more money in total than the game itself".

Notch personally earned $101 million (~64 million) from Minecraft sales in 2012. The game itself sold more than 15 million copies across all platforms last year. When Manneh says Minecraft Realms can make even more money, he's talking big bucks.

"We have never tried to sell anything except the game and a little merchandise," Carl Manneh acknowledged. "It'll be very interesting to see if the community will be prepared to pay for this service."

If they do and Realms takes off, "Then really Minecraft would become a huge MMO, a really vast universe consisting of very many small worlds," said Manneh. "That's kind of a dream we've had for a while."

Minecraft Realms is in alpha on PC, with a beta planned for May. When asked about the scale of the Minecraft Realms operation and whether 100,000 servers would satisfy demand, Mojang's chief architect Daniel Frisk replied: "Oh, we believe many more than that."

Dan Frisk also tweeted to say that, "Minecraft Realms isn't built for huge public servers. The sweetspot is a group of invited friends or as a family server."

The Pocket Edition (mobile) of Minecraft Realms is currently behind its PC counterpart but could enter beta at the same time due to its relative simplicity.

Multiplay will host Minecraft Realms on PC; Amazon will host Minecraft Realms on mobile.

Meanwhile, Minecraft PC has received the Redstone Update version 1.5. Here's a bamboozling video summarising all that's inside.

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