The internet is a dangerous and disturbing place. You can find anything on here. You can even find a picture of
Chris Thursten atop a digital horse
. Chilling. It's only natural, then, that parents would want to protect the little ones from the wild west of the online world. For companies like Mojang, the question is how to offer kids a Minecraft multiplayer experience, while simultaneously ensuring they're kept safe? With Minecraft Realms, they might have found their answer.
reports that Minecraft Realms will offer simple server set-up, giving kids control of who is and isn't allowed into their world. "Our costumers [for Realms] are parents who are tired of trying to act as server administrators on behalf of their kids," says Carl Manneh, CEO of Mojang. "Minecraft Realms will be a simpler kind of service, aimed at families and kids. In the future we aim to offer certain profiles with mods that are certified to work without crashing, but this will still be a safe and easy way for kids and families to play Minecraft online."
In keeping with the user-friendly philosophy, only the world's host will require a realm account - which Mojang indicate will cost around $10 to $15 per month. For invited friends, all that's required is a copy of the game and an internet connection. Pre-paid cards are also planned, allowing for Realms access from those without credit cards.
"In the end I think this will get Minecraft new players, since there is a viral aspect of Realms," Manneh continues. "Kids will probably invite friends who don't have Minecraft yet to play with them. All we know is that there has been a great demand for this service. 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."
But if it takes off, Manneh predicts big things from the service. "Since we have about 10 million paying PC gamers and, soon, as many mobile gamers, there's definitely potential. 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."
Realms is currently in private alpha, with a "hopeful" beta released planned for May.