Minecraft Realms will provide "a safe and easy way for kids and families to play Minecraft online."
The trouble with children playing online is that "online" can sometimes be an ugly place. And from the perspective of a parent, it can be tough to keep up. That's the driving force behind Minecraft Realms, which Mojang CEO Carl Manneh described as a "simpler kind of service, aimed at families and kids."
Minecraft Realms will provide subscribers with their own private slice of Minecraft - a realm, you might say - and complete control over who has access to it, without any of the hassles normally involved with running a game server. The price hasn't been locked down but will likely run $10 to $15 per month, and Mojang is planning to issue its own prepaid cards to accommodate people who want to take advantage of the service but don't have, or don't want to use, a credit card.
Manneh said there's been a lot of demand for a service like this and that it could ultimately end up bringing in even more money that Minecraft itself, although he acknowledged that it could go either way. "We have never tried to sell anything to our gamers except the game itself and a little merchandise, so it'll be very interesting to see if the community will be prepared to pay for a service like this," he told GamesIndustry. "But since we have about 10 million paying PC gamers and, soon, as many mobile gamers, there's definitely potential."
The PC version of Minecraft Realms is currently in alpha testing, while a version for Minecraft Pocket Edition is somewhat farther behind in development. The studio is "hopeful" that a beta test can begin in May.