I don’t spend a lot of time balking, because I’m not really clear on the definition. But balk is what I did upon first realising what was required of me to set up a simple Minecraft multiplayer server.
To follow a series of arcane steps and be told that I must look deep within my own router to find the way was a big ask for me, and I knew what I was working for. Can you imagine a child doing the same, or their PC gaming illiterate parent?
Minecraft Realms is a subscription service from Mojang which does that lost evening of router-bothering for you. It’s now in beta in Sweden.
Realms comes in three packages - 30 days’ access costs €10, 90 days costs €26, and 180 days costs €46. Clearly that’s no good if you perceive Mojang to be doing something you and your PC are entirely capable of on your own - but not bad if it facilitates online play for those who’d otherwise find it out of reach.
What’s offered is a single world, hosted 24 hours a day on Mojang’s servers. They accommodate up to 20 invited (and unpaying) friends, 10 of whom can play on the server at once.
The world is configurable from inside the game, and subscriptions come bundled with seven pre-made community maps - including Blocks vs Zombies by SethBling, Dash of Doom by Dragnoz, and Spellbound Caves by Vechs.
Realms are automatically saved regularly, and allow subscribers to revert to earlier versions if something breaks or an unexplained fire sweeps through their palisades. “On that note,” writes Mojang chief word officer Owen Hill, “it’s easy to add and remove friends from your approved list.”
Realms is now available on PC in Sweden, where players can now start or top-up subscriptions via their Minecraft accounts. Worlds are saved for at least three months beyond the end of a subscription, which is nice.
I’m aware throughout all this of the silent screams that will inevitably follow Minecraft Realms: “Why pay for something you can do yourself?” If that’s you screaming, it’s very possible Realms was conceived for somebody else. There's no denying it's a nice little number for Mojang, though - they expect it to bring in "more money than the game itself".
Or maybe you’ve worked through a cost-versus-convenience equation and decided Realms is just the ticket? Do let us know in the comments.