As if Minecraft wasn’t already lucrative enough – and, with over 20 million copies sold across PC, Xbox 360 and mobile, it most certainly is – Mojang is about to open up two fresh, new revenue streams for the game. The first is a boxed, retail release of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition. The second, a subscription-based service dubbed Minecraft Realms that will offer players their very own, self-contained worlds.

First things first. Despite trailing the PC version in terms of content updates, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition has been a phenomenal success, regularly appearing near the top of the Xbox LIVE activity charts (it was second only to Black Ops 2 for the week ending February 18th). Ported to the system by developer 4J Studios, Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition has already racked up sales in excess of five million units on Xbox Live Arcade. Expect that number to increase dramatically when the console game, first released for Xbox 360 in May of 2012, finally comes to retail.

Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition Box Art
Due April 30th in North America, and during June in Australia, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan, the retail version of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition is expected to include content from the as-yet-unreleased 9th title update for the game (which, in addition to unspecified new items and features, adds Ender Dragons to the mix). Just like the XBLA game, the retail edition of Minecraft 360 will be priced at $19.99.

Players who already own a copy might want to take a look at the latest Minecraft Skin Pack, which became available just today (March 13, 2013). Featuring 45 new skins, based on such games as Assassin’s Creed, Borderlands and Halo, Skin Pack 4 is available now from the Xbox Marketplace for 160 Microsoft Points ($2).

On the PC/mobile side of the Minecraft equation, Mojang is hard at work on Minecraft Realms, a subscription-based service designed with the noble, Nintendo-like goal of giving families a safe way to play online – and kudos to them for it! For $10 to $15 a month (the price is currently undecided), players will gain access to their own Minecraft world, along with complete control over who can play in it. Check out the details, straight from Mojang’s website.

The current, publicly available details of Minecraft realms are:

  • World settings include providing a name and a description for the realm, stopping the server, re-starting the server, resetting the world, inviting and uninviting players, and viewing your current subscription status.
  • Minecraft Realms is not intended to replace large, public servers. The amount of players on the server will be limited, and a whitelist is in place so that players can only join by invitation.
  • The subscription price has not been set, but will likely be around $10-15 per month.
  • Multiplay is providing servers for the PC edition of Minecraft; Amazon will host servers for Minecraft: Pocket Edition.

Minecraft Realms

As reported by GamesIndustry International, Mojang CEO Carl Manneh sees great potential in the service.

“Our costumers [for Realms] are parents who are tired of trying to act as server administrators on behalf of their kids. 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.”

“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.”

Currently in alpha, Minecraft Realms is due for beta testing this May. Manneh notes that if the service proves to be a success, Mojang might add more features, including the ability to link disparate Minecraft worlds together.

“Then really Minecraft would become a huge MMO, a really vast universe consisting of very many small worlds. That’s kind of a dream we’ve had for a while.”

A massive, interconnected Minecraft universe? Whether you have kids or not, that might just be a feature worth paying for!

Ranters, what do you think about the potential of Minecraft Realms? What about Mojang’s goal of creating a Minecraft multiverse? Do any of you Xbox 360 owners plan to pick up Minecraft when it hits retail? What do you think of the new skins? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition releases at retail on April 30, 2012, in North America.

Minecraft Realms is expected to enter beta testing in May, 2013.

Follow me on Twitter @HakenGaken.

Source: PlayXBLA (1,2), GamesIndustry International, Examiner