How To Play Minecraft With Friends On PC & Other Platforms

How To Play Minecraft With Friends Without Actually Visiting Them

February 25, 2021 Updated March 29, 2021

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Nina Photolab/Unsplash

Minecraft turns 10 years old in 2021 and is still one of the most popular games around. Why? There are actually a ton of reasons. First and foremost, Minecraft is easy to play — especially in single-player mode. Even the four- and five-year-old kids of gaming nerds can learn their way around Minecraft, explore the seemingly never-ending world, and have a blast building their own little habitats. But where the game truly shines is when it’s played with pals. So, we’re here to help you learn how to play Minecraft with friends. 

Because it’s so easy and so fun, even in single-player mode, many parents have had no issues with letting their younger kiddos play the game. After all, single-player mode means it’s also relatively safe. When kids discovered Minecraft, it blew-TF-up — that’s why there’s a whole section of a Target toy aisle devoted to Minecraft merchandise. Of course, you don’t have to be a kid to love it. Most parents probably remember their first encounter with Minecraft being a personal interaction or hearing about their nerdy friend playing the game. It helped that it was made available to play on nearly every gaming platform: PlayStation, Xbox, PC, and even on your tablet, ensuring no one was left out. 

While kids enjoy the simple world-building idea behind Minecraft, older players enjoy the chance to use their resources on elaborate builds to fend off or trick the zombies. (And, in case you don’t know, Minecraft’s zombies are literally the world’s least scary zombies.) With age comes the desire to socialize and find newer, harder challenges when playing the game. Enter multiplayer options.

Now more than ever, finding ways to play multiplayer games online feels crucial. Very few people are going out the way they use to, but we still need a way to connect. Doing things like setting up a Minecraft game or a Dungeons and Dragons campaign with your friends from home has been vital to our mental health during this time of isolation. We need to laugh with our friends, right? While solitary play is important for kids (and even for grown-ups), social interaction is just as key to happiness. So, how do you play Minecraft with friends? It’s easier than you think.

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Playing Minecraft With Friends on Different Platforms

Back in the “old days,” it was impossible to game with your friends if you were on a PC and they were on their PlayStation or Xbox. Luckily, over time, it’s gotten a lot easier. As long as you’re both playing the same version (like Java or Bedrock), you can play together from any platform… but you’re going to need a Microsoft or Xbox account. Great news, though: They’re free and easy to set up. Here’s what you do:

  • Confirm you’re using the same version of Minecraft.
  • Create or access your Microsoft account.
  • Become “friends” with your, ya know, friend. You can do this by asking for their gamer tag and then sending them a friend invite.
  • Join your friend’s game by scrolling through your friends in the “Joinable Cross-Platform Friends” section under the “Friends” tab. They’ll need to be hosting their own session, though. (In other words, if they’re gaming with a friend you’re not friends with and the other person started the session, your friend won’t be able to invite you.) If your friend is hosting a session, they can invite you. Your invite will pop up on your screen, and you can accept or decline it.
  • Another option? Start a session yourself and invite your friends. Once you’re in a game, open the Start menu. You’ll see a prompt to invite your friends. Take note: Depending on what permissions and restrictions you give your friends, they may only be able to visit and view your world — or they might be able to help build/destroy it. Make sure you trust the people you invite.

Playing in Realms

Another multiplayer option is to play in Realms. Realms are set up on 24/7 servers and don’t require a host. That means, in essence, that once your friends start using the same “realm,” you can join and play together no matter who is available at the time. No one is the “overlord” (so to speak) of the Realm.

  • Once you join a Realm, it will always be available in your “Joinable Realms” list as long as it’s still online and not deleted.
  • You can invite any of your friends, but active players are capped at eleven.
  • Once you invite someone to your Realm, it will also always appear in their “Joinable Realms.” This makes it easier to pick up where you left off during your last session without having to jump through as many hoops. It also means that, at any time, you can join that Realm and meet up with a varying number of friends whom you’ve previously invited. In essence, your friend group can create a world just for you.

There is, of course, the option to have an old-school LAN party. Those require having you and your friends in the same place at the same time and using the same internet. That seems pretty unlikely these days, though. And let’s be honest: Who wants to vacuum or plan snacks everyone will agree on? Not us! Socially distanced multiplayer gaming is our preference.

Turning on Multiplayer

If you’re having trouble setting up your multiplayer, it could be your settings. You might have trouble setting up your multiplayer because it probably isn’t turned on. So, go into Minecraft and press the play button to access the “World” tab. Then click on the world you want to change and click edit. You should see a toggle button. Go ahead and turn it on.