Minecraft is arguably the best-selling game of all time, depending on what kind of statistics you are looking at and who is doing the research. Regardless of its exact placement on the list, there is no doubt that it is one of the most popular games downloaded. There are a handful of reasons for this. 

  1. Minecraft can be downloaded on nearly any gaming platform including, but not limited to, PC, Mac, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo Switch, mobile, and tablet. 
  2. Single-player gives you a perpetual amount of possibilities on how you can play Minecraft and alter your world. However, this alone isn’t enough reason for Minecraft nearing the top of the list. The real answer lies in its multiplayer capabilities. 
  3. Minecraft provides you with the option of enjoying your gameplay experience with friends.

For most people, connecting with friends through multiplayer gameplay is the best way to play.  What’s even better is that there are multiple options you can use to play Minecraft with friends including:

It’s highly recommended you understand the difference in each option and what they offer because choosing the best course of action can greatly enhance your gameplay and help you tailor your game to your needs. I’ll explain each below and give you a few pros and cons to help.

Split-Screen

Prior to internet gaming, split-screen was one of the most popular ways to play games with friends. Although most games nowadays do not offer split-screen capabilities, Minecraft has added that feature into every console edition. 

As the name implies, split-screen will split your screen into multiple smaller screens so each player has his or her own section to look at. Think Rocket League with two to four players. This means if you are playing with one friend, your TV will be separated into two separate images, but if you are playing with four players, then there will be four separate images. 

How to Split Screens

  1. Log into Minecraft with your username and password
  2. Log into a single player world
  3. With your second remote press the Start button. You should see a new prompt on your game asking you to join as a second player. 
Split screen start
  1. Press Start one more time to see a new screen pop up with a list of player options to join as. You’re done! You and your friend can now both play on the same screen together! 
See other Minecraft players
  1. Tip: If you do not like horizontal split-screen, you can adjust it to a vertical-split screen in the settings. 
Adjust split screen in Minecraft

 

Pros/Cons of Split Screen

Split-screen is warranted for many reasons. It allows you to play with a friend without any internet connection, it offers highly cooperative gameplay by allowing you to know exactly where the other person is and what they are doing, and it provides a shared experience of playing in the same room as your friend. It’s also a nice way to get someone interested in playing if they don’t own a console or a copy of Minecraft.

However, like many things in life, split-screen has some drawbacks. Many people find sharing a screen with someone else a bad experience. If you are splitting your screen with one other person, the aspect ratio changes, while splitting with four people keeps the aspect ratio, but decreases the size of your view to a quarter of its normal size. Both options can be cumbersome and drop visual quality. 

In addition, if you’re playing against each other you have no way to prevent the other person from looking at your screen unless you decide to hang a sheet in between both sides of the TV and trust me, we’ve done that and it’s not ideal. It’s also easy to get distracted, especially with audio. When you inevitably hear the creeper about to blow up is he near you or your friend?

PROSCONS
– No internet connection required
– Less lag due to no internet connection
– Only one console and copy of the game needed
– Easier communication to increase cooperativity
– Players must be in the same room together while playing
– Smaller screen and possible change of aspect ratio
– Screen-cheating is difficult to prevent
– Higher chance of distracted gameplay

Recommended: Best Minecraft Texture Packs

LAN

There is another option you can use to play with friends in your home without sharing a screen. This is called using a LAN network. 

LAN means Local Area Network, so in order for someone to connect to your game, they must be using the same internet network that you are using. This is as simple as making sure you are both either connected to the same wifi or directly connected to the same internet modem. 

How to Set up LAN (Java Edition)

  1. Verify you have an active internet connection on the computer you are playing on 
  2. Open Minecraft and log into your account
  3. Click the Single Player option
  4. Log into an existing world or create a new world
  5. Press esc to open the Game Menu
  6. Click Open to LAN
Open minecraft lan
  1. Choose an option for Game Mode (Survival, Spectator, Creative, Adventure)
  2. Choose an option for Allow Cheats (On/Off)
  3. Click Start LAN World. At this point, you should see a message on your screen that says “Local game hosted on port XXXXX” with a random number filled in. You can verify that your game is connected online now by pausing the game. If everything else pauses with you then something went wrong. However, if villagers and mobs still move even with your screen paused then you have successfully opened your game using local area network. 
Find local host port

How to join a LAN Minecraft game (Java Edition)

  1. Verify you have an active internet connection on your machine
  2. Open Minecraft and log into your account
  3. Click the Multiplayer option
  4. Wait a few moments and you will see the LAN world show up
Join minecraft java edition
  1. Click Join Server and you’re good to go!
Join server
  1. Tip: You may not see your friends LAN World show up. If this happens, click Direct Connect and type in your friends’ IP address, followed by a colon, followed by the port number written in the chat when your friend created their LAN world. For example, if your friends’ IP address is 12.123.123.12 and their port number is 55555, you would type in 12.123.123.12:5555
Connect Minecraft server address

Recommended: How to Install Minecraft Mods

How to Set up LAN (Bedrock Edition)

Step by step guide on how to get a LAN set up.

  1. Verify you have an active internet connection on your machine
  2. Open Minecraft and log into your account
  3. Before logging into your world, click the pencil icon next to your world to go to Game Settings.
LAN bedrock
  1. Click the Multiplayer tab and verify both Multiplayer Game and Visible to LAN Players are checked.
LAN multiplayer settings
  1. Log into your game. That’s it! Now other players can connect to your game as long as they are on the same network as you.

How to join a LAN Minecraft game (Bedrock Edition)

Step by step guide on how players can join a game together. 

  1. Open Minecraft and log into your account
  2. Press Y to open LAN settings. Note that this button may be different depending on what platform you are using. You can verify by looking at the bottom of the home screen.
Minecraft bedrock edition
  1. You’ll see a new screen pop up asking if you’d like to join the online network or a local network. Remember, LAN stands for Local Area Network, so let’s select the Local Network option.
Select network mode
  1. Finally, go to the Friends tab and scroll down towards the bottom. You should see your friends’ world pop up. Your message may be a little different. I get a cross-platform message since I’m logging onto my Windows 10 hosted game from my Nintendo Switch.
Friends tab

Pros/Cons of LAN

There are many reasons you’d want to choose to play Minecraft using a LAN connection. The first and most obvious is it allows you to play with your friends. However, unlike split-screen, you each get your own monitor or TV to play on. This prevents skewing your aspect ratio and or decreasing the size of your view by over half. Contrary to using a server, a LAN network is much safer and easier to set up. You don’t need to provide your IP address or port-forward your router. You also don’t need to pay any fees for someone else to host your server.

The downside of using LAN is you will still need an active internet connection and your friend will need to be within range of accessing that internet connection through either Wifi or by direct connection. This also means that your game will run based on the speed and quality of your internet connection. Slow internet? Laggy game. Choppy internet? Be prepared to be disconnected periodically. Performance can also be affected because the host of the LAN game must use and play on the same computer from where they are hosting the game unless they have a second account which can put stress on their machine.

PROSCONS
– You can play with your friends without sharing a screen
– Much easier to set up than running your own server
– Higher network safety than accessing another networking or allowing someone else to access your network
– Has no cost attached aside from your own internet connection
– Players must be on the same network which limits their range
– Gameplay performance is determined by network quality of the host’s connection
– Unable to host the game from a dedicated machine without owning another Minecraft account

Recommended: How to Make a Minecraft Server

Minecraft Server

A Minecraft server is the most advanced option of multiplayer Minecraft. It has all of the same features as connecting with LAN with a few additions. First of all, it allows anyone to connect to your server regardless of where they are instead of limiting access to only those on your network. Second, it gives you the option of dedicating a machine to run the server while you can log on to your account from a separate machine to ease up on resources. 

You can either make your own Minecraft server or you can have a third party host one for you, with each having its own benefits. If you’re interested in having someone else be in charge of your server check out our article on how to make a Minecraft server using hosting

How to make a Minecraft server

Running a server yourself means you are in charge of everything such as downloading the resources you need, configuring how the server acts and behaves, and using your own hardware. If making and running a server yourself sounds interesting to you then it’s possible with just a short series of steps.

You will need to download the proper files then set up your server configurations. You will also need to set up port forwarding if you want people to access your server from outside your network (remember, this is something you cannot do on a LAN network!). After the networking portion is set up and you edit your server properties as you see fit, you can launch your game. Read our step by step instructions on how to setup your own Minecraft server

How to join a Minecraft server

  1. Verify the server is set up and running. Verification for this can be achieved by having the server host look at their server.jar file after it’s opened. It should show something like this:
Join a server

Alternatively, the host can verify by logging into Minecraft then navigating t