Minecraft subscription service revealed

New "Realms" service aimed at parents and children will cost $10-15 per month; could end up bringing in more money than the game itself.

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Minecraft developer Mojang has revealed plans for a subscription service called Minecraft Realms, according to a new report at Swedish news site it24 (translated by GamesIndustry International). Aimed at parents and children, the service will allow users to own a slice of the Minecraft world that friends can join free of charge, provided they own a copy of the game.

Pricing has not been finalized, but a subscription is expected to cost between $10 and $15 per month. The Minecraft Realms service comes as a response to inquiries from parents, according to Mojang CEO Carl Manneh.

"All we know is that there has been a great demand for this service," Manneh said. "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."

If the Minecraft Realms service does catch on, Manneh said he believes it will be a major revenue stream for Mojang, so much so that it could overtake sales of the game itself.

"But since we have about 10 million paying PC gamers and, soon, as many mobile gamers, there's definitely potential," he said. "And yes, if we look ahead, I do think [Realms will] be the biggest source of income in the future, and to bring in more money in total than the game itself."

If Minecraft Realms is widely supported, Manneh said Minecraft would become a "huge MMO; a really vast universe consisting of many very small worlds." He described this result as a "dream" the studio has had for a long time.

The PC version of Minecraft Realms is in private alpha, while a public beta is planned for this May. A version for Minecraft: Pocket Edition is also in the works, though it is "some way" behind its PC counterpart.

The entire Minecraft franchise has sold over 20 million units, with the PC version closing in on 10 million copies sold.

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