Minecraft has virtually (pun intended) become a household name. At some point over the last decade, gamers around the world have tried this popular, pixelated, platform of digital delight.
Non-gamers aren’t immune to the Minecraft madness either. No one can open an internet browser, visit a streaming service, or walk into a store without seeing some mention of Minecraft or its merchandise.
Minecraft was first released to the public in 2009 by the Swedish game developer, Mojang. Over the past decade, Minecraft has grown into one of the most popular gaming platforms in the world, with Microsoft reporting more than 112 million monthly users as of September 2019).
With that kind of player base, as a Minecraft game server owner, you need to know how to get your piece of the pickaxe pie.
Let’s find out!
7 ways to make money on your Minecraft game server
Here’s how to start making money on your Minecraft server:
- Set up your business.
- Charge for server access.
- Collect membership fees.
- Ask for donations.
- Sell digital merchandise.
- Secure sponsorships.
- Stream your gameplay.
Regular gameplay includes strategy, story, building and community interactions on a server chosen by the player. On the reverse, you can also own and manage your own Minecraft game server and create a world of your dreams and invite players to participate.
Technically, you’re not allowed to make money from Minecraft gaming, but Mojang — the company that develops Minecraft — has made an exception for Minecraft game servers.
Before you start dreaming of payday, it is imperative that you review the Minecraft Commercial Use Terms to understand how to legally profit from your server.
(Always read the terms from the Mojang. As of this posting date, some of the information and rules may have changed.)
1. Set up your business
Before you can make money, you have to spend money.
With any business, you need to set yourself up for success with a name and a brand as well as the server itself.
Find the perfect domain name
First, your online branding efforts will require you to choose a domain name. Since your business is virtual, a domain name will allow your players to find you online and visit your website.
Go ahead, take a look:
Related: How to buy a domain name
Get a logo
Next, brand yourself with a professional logo. A logo is a way for gamers to recognize your server and is the foundation for the visual identity of your server.
Related: How to design a logo in 12 steps
Create a website
With a game server business, you need to not only set up the game server, but you will need to create a website.
Your website is how gamers will find and learn more about your server, your server’s community, and the gameplay your server offers.
Your website also allows you to make money through affiliate advertising, or an eCommerce store for purchases made outside of the game platform.
If you are comfortable setting up your own server, you are probably capable of building your own website. We recommend using WordPress for a game server business.
If you’re not interested in building the website yourself, you may choose to have a professional build your site while you are busy setting up your Minecraft world.
Once you’ve set up your branding and website, you can focus on bringing in the green.
2. Charge for server access
Making a profit is serious business when developing an enormous, beautiful Minecraft world that requires a fast and reliable server.
It’s like a game of Monopoly — you have to pay to buy the property (server) before you can charge rent (server access).
Mojang allows you to charge a fee — any fee — but it must be the same for all players. All you need to decide is if you will charging Baltic Avenue discount rates or Boardwalk premium access fees.
The time spent on setting up the server must be considered as well. If you construct a large unique gaming world with beautiful structures, mini-games and expansions, charging access is necessary. Even for a small game server owner looking to cash in, there are building costs that must be covered.
3. Collect membership fees
Collecting membership fees is not so different from collecting server access fees, except with memberships you can give your players choices of access duration.
You can offer weekly, monthly or annual membership fees based on how long the players want to access your Minecraft game server — but you still must charge the same for all players.
With most memberships, the annual fee is almost always the least expensive option when netted out, but a weekly fee might work best for those wanting to try the game before committing to a longer-term or those needing the fee to be easier on the wallet.
But whatever you charge, again, it must be with the same prices and terms to all players.
Related: How to start a membership site
4. Ask for donations
Why would anyone give away money when they don’t have to?
Some people feel an obligation to pay for things they use, while others give to people or platforms they like so the developer can continue providing them with incredible gameplay.
Most donors understand that their donations fuel timely updates and continuous expansion. Donations also allow admins to focus on the game server and not treat it like a side-gig.
For the Minecraft game server owner, donations may be more rewarding than a flat server access or membership fee.
You may alienate players if they are locked into a specific amount to play that may not be in their budget. However, on the reverse, generous players may take this opportunity to contribute larger amounts that far exceed a set rate.
Taking a chance that many won’t donate to play can be worrisome. However, if you have an attractive world, put in the time, and make timely updates and fun features, donations might be a big payoff.
5. Sell digital merchandise
While Mojang doesn’t allow for profits from the Minecraft game itself, you are allowed to sell in-game items as long as it doesn’t affect gameplay.
Mojang has some very specific rules. Selling capes is not allowed, for instance, as this is an item only awarded by Minecraft and requires players to meet specific conditions.
You are allowed to sell in-game items as long as it doesn’t affect gameplay.
To sell in-game merchandise, you need a way to accept payments and create your digital inventory.
One popular option is Minecraft Marketplace. Minecraft Marketplace allows you to sell skins, textures, mash-ups, adventure packs, mini-games, track purchases and foster a community.
Another favorite is Tebex, formerly known as Buycraft. Tebex was originally developed as a platform for the monetization of Minecraft, but expanded in 2019 to cover other games. It’s still one of the leading Minecraft eCommerce plugins available that offers many digital inventory options.
Sponsors can fund your Minecraft game server in exchange for something, like promoting their product or service to the players on your server.
Finding the perfect sponsor can take some research.
Searching on Google shows that there are many companies that are in place to sponsor Minecraft-related activities.
This is where your website comes in handy. While Mojang doesn’t allow any advertising in the gaming platform itself, you can post promotions and advertisements on your website.
You could create sponsor packages laying out exactly what sponsors get, and for what price. Alternatively, you could create a custom arrangement for individual sponsors.
7. Stream your gameplay
Sailing in your boat, mining for diamonds, building your dream house and minding your crops aren’t just fun to do, they are fun to watch. Damaging Enderman and avoiding creepers can build excitement and suspense that others want to watch.
Per Mojang rules, you are allowed to put footage of the game on YouTube or any other website, but you have to stay within their Essential Requirements — you may create, use and distribute videos of you playing or using the game for any lawful reason, provided that you don’t make any money from them.
So what can you do? You must add your own unique content to the video, like audio commentary. The amount you add must also be enough for you to make money, and worthwhile for someone to pay for it.
You’ll have different options for monetization, depending on the platform you choose. You may need to hit a specific threshold of subscribers or viewers before you can make money on ads. You could also add affiliate links to your profile, or find sponsors for your stream.
The important thing with game streaming is to do it often.
You’ll need to have a consistent schedule, so viewers know when to watch, and your stream will need to offer something interesting/different enough to bring people back.
If you’re stuck for inspiration, take a look at what other Minecraft players are streaming on Twitch.
Get ready to get paid
Are you ready to start making money on your Minecraft gamer server?
With Minecraft’s popularity and the flexibility of creativity, you have the ability to adapt, change and develop your own Minecraft world.
By providing an ever-changing, never-ending user experience your players will become payers!
Related: How to sell video games online