What the 'Minecraft' switch to Realms Plus means for console, computer and mobile

'Minecraft Realms Plus' digs deeper into the world of monthly subscriptions.

Official 'Minecraft' subscription service Minecraft Realms was replaced this week by Realms Plus, which now includes complimentary Marketplace content on top of the usual shared multiplayer server for friends -- as long as the Realm owner stays subscribed.

Fifty pieces of "Minecraft" content, from adventures and worlds to skin packs and mini-games, over and above the usual 10-player personal multiplayer instance, act as the incentive for players to sign up for Minecraft Realms Plus.

The official $7.99 USD service replaces the original Minecraft Realms, which launched in 2013, and existing members will be transferred over automatically.

- Why might 'Minecraft' switch to Realms Plus? -

The scheme moves the "Minecraft" subscription model a little closer to that of "Roblox," whose monthly tiers provide a set amount of in-game currency; "Fortnite" has further popularized a Season Pass model that rewards active players with exclusive items and missions.

The items included with Realms Plus are available separately via the Minecraft Marketplace, but represent a significant saving on standard list prices.

However, unlike items bought outright, they'll only remain available to a Realms Plus instance as long as the owner's subscription remains active from month to month.

In this way, Realms Plus can end up generating many times more "Minecraft" revenue than the game's initial retail price ($6.99 on mobile, $19.99 on Xbox One, $29.99 on Switch and PC).

At the same time, players (or parents and guardians) don't have to deal with purchasing specific Marketplace items.

- Who can play on Realms Plus? -

A total of ten players can be active within a single person's Realms Plus world at once, while server admins are now able to invite "as many players as they want," per Minecraft.net; that's up from the 3,000 invite limit in standard Realms.

Realms Plus applies to the Bedrock Edition of "Minecraft," which is available for and offers cross-play multiplayer between mobile devices, Windows 10 PCs, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

Standard Realms subscriptions are available for the original Java Edition of "Minecraft," which runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux and offers greater opportunity for user modification, but no cross-platform multiplayer outside of those platforms.

However, players who bought Java Edition before October 19, 2018, can get Bedrock for free.

- What about PlayStation? -

As for the PlayStation version of Minecraft, and other versions of the Console Legacy Edition, it's excluded from Realms and Realms Plus entirely; the services require the use of Microsoft's Xbox Live account and network system, presumably the sticking point that has prevented PlayStation from allowing "Minecraft" to join "Fortnite" and "Rocket League" in providing full cross-platform multiplayer.

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