So, you want to launch a Minecraft server for the first time, but you want to make sure you do it the right way, huh?
Not a bad idea! Minecraft is, after all, a dominating force in the world today. It's the most-viewed video game on YouTube in 2019. It's the most-purchased video game in history. And it has 10 years of amazing maps, mods, and servers boosting it as a favorite among hundreds of millions of players worldwide.
We don't blame you for wanting to get in on the action. We love the game and its player community, too! Why else do you think we're here?
We're starting a new series with this blog post to look at things you may not have considered before. Whether you want a small private server for you and a few friends, or you want to go all the way to the top with thousands of players logging in each day, we have some things that you should consider first.
And you should do that BEFORE you start inviting people to join.
In this blog series, we're going to give you a few questions that you should ask yourself first. Plus we'll give you some of our suggestions on how to find success.
We aren't going to go into the technical details for setting up a Minecraft server or how to keep it running. We have existing video tutorials and future blog posts coming about that.
But we do want to see you succeed in the best way possible. That starts with a few important questions that you need to answer.
Let's start this series off with the most important one:
What type of server do you want to launch?
What's your goal with your server?
There are thousands of different types of servers, each with different purposes. Some servers are huge, like Hypixel and Hive MC, with millions of players joining each year to reach the top of the scoreboards. Some are small and private, for a group of friends, an after school club, or even a YouTuber who wants to have a donor-only server. Others are temporary, like the Minecraft Saturday weekly competitions or Cubed! Con which happens only once per year.
The very first question you have to ask yourself is, "What is the END GOAL for your server?"
Let's take a step back from answers like, "Popular Minigame Server" or "Private SMP for YouTubers". Let's look at the big picture goals.
It just so happens we've got a nice little list here to help break it down. Here are some of the server goals we're going to cover today. Feel free to skip down to the one that you're most interested in:
- Popular Server to Make Money
- SUPER Popular Server With A Full Team Of Employees
- Private Server for a Small Group Of Friends
- Fan Server for Donors and Patrons
- Education Server for Students (From Kids to Adults)
- Temporary Event Server or Competition
- Promotional Server to Sell Products for a Business
Let's start with the first one:
I want to build a popular server that I can make money off of.
This is the goal for a lot of first-time server owners out there. Maybe even you right now!
There's nothing wrong with this answer, but, to be completely transparent, sometimes the people saying it don't realize the size of the task in front of them. In the ideal scenario, this type of server is one that is running strong and sustainably. With enough players and donations or sales that one person, you, can live a happy life off of.
This is a great goal to have! Servers cost a lot of time and money to keep active and fun for all players. It makes sense that you want to be able to focus your time on improving the server. Beats having to split that time with your day job.
Since this is a one-person operation, it's a good idea to make it extra clear to your community that you are working hard to make their experience awesome. This is a great way to be able to build relationships with your members so that they can get to know you.
On the positive side, having to only pay one person means that the costs for operating the server can be lower. You get to directly engage with your community.
Plus you'll be able to deliver the vision that YOU have without needing approval from anyone else.
On the down side, advertising this type of server can be difficult if you don't already have a strong following of fans.
You'll also have a lot of learning to do about every aspect of running a server. From building to plugin development, from system administration to event hosting. Not to forget needing to manage the finances and player disputes yourself.
If you want to make a server like this, our main tips are:
- Keep learning everything that you can. You never know when something you learned will be put to use later.
- Build good relationships with your players so that they see you are active and excited.
- Try not to go TOO BIG with your vision before you learn the ropes with a smaller server.
- Prepare for harsh criticisms that come with any public creative work. Take the feedback that will help you improve, but don't be discouraged by the haters and harsh critics.
- Look for active community members who are excited and willing to volunteer to help you with some of the smaller tasks on your plate. Be careful not to give them too much power and access, though, or you may end up regretting bringing them on at all.
I want to build a MEGA Server with full time employees.
This type of server is like the next step up from that first type. After you've found good, sustainable success for a while, you're likely to find that there's too much work for one person alone if you want to keep growing. You'll need to start bringing in extra people that will help you take your server up a level.
The most popular servers that you see took years to get where they are, and they required a lot of money, talent, and professional individuals to pull off. You can't just start a minigame server with a great spawn and a few hundred dollars in advertising and expect to become the next CubeCraft. You need organization, legal agreements, and the right people performing the right tasks to be able to succeed.
That's not to say it's not possible to reach this level. It is! But, be aware that it can take a long time to really get the ball rolling. It's best to start with a different goal in mind and then work your way to this point, as most mega servers today have done. Luckily, if you do reach this goal after months or even years of perseverance, you will have a proud story to tell.
If you are planning on diving all in to make a server like Mineplex or Hypixel, our advice is to find a strong, business-minded team. They need to be able to guide you in how to manage employees, finances, and even legal concerns. It would even be a good idea to find people outside of Minecraft who can fill some of the positions you need filled who are just GREAT at what they do (legal counsel, accounting, human resources, community management, etc...).
Or you can start off small, learn the ropes, make some mistakes, and continually improve until one day you get the chance to strike gold.
"Success is 50% dumb luck, and 50% preparation for that dumb luck."
Just because you're starting small, doesn't mean you can't find a BIG win later.
I want a private server for me and a few friends.
Awesome! These types of servers can be great fun, and allow friends from around the world to stay connected!
With private servers there are no real rules to follow. You and your friends have full say in what happens, and you don't even need to try and impress anyone while you're doing it.
The best bit of advice that we can give is to make lots of backups of your server/worlds. We also caution against giving your friends full access to OP commands or the console.
One of the main ways these servers fail is if one of the friends get upset and dramatically tries to destroy everything. Or if a world accidentally gets corrupted and you have no backup to rely on. It can crush everyone's spirits and be hard to come back from that type of blow.
On the plus side, with a great group of friends, these types of servers can last for YEARS. They don't cost very much to get up and running, either (we have hosting plans for as low as $2.50/month)!
I want an exciting server for my fans to connect with me.
So, you're a YouTuber or live streamer and you want to create a whitelisted server for your biggest fans and donors to game on, right?
This is a common server type that a lot of content creators go with because it's a win-win for everyone. The players get to game with their favorite YouTuber, and the YouTuber has a place to make cool content on. A streamer can also make income off of this server by charging their fans to access (like through Patreon).
You get full control over what happens on the server, but you can step back a bit and let your players show off for you with builds or minigames they make.
With everything that's so awesome about this type of server, what could go wrong?
Well, sadly... a few things.
A LOT of YouTubers make these types of servers, and a lot of your fans may also watch other YouTubers. That makes the server market saturated with a lot of very similar survival or creative servers. This will make it tough for your server to stand out as something people will value, and REALLY TOUGH to keep all of your fans active on your server enough to keep things fun. No one likes joining a survival server where they play alone most of the time.
Try and stay active on the server yourself so that your players feel like you're giving them attention. Put a few of your most loyal and trustworthy fans as mods so they can watch over chat or run fun events while you're away. Be careful not to give them all operator status, though, or you run the risk of someone trolling your server just to get attention from you. (Yes. That sadly happens.)
To keep the server active and people paying to access it, you'll want to try a few different things. Reward active players by showing off their builds in a live stream, or make videos playing the game with them. Whatever you can do to keep the server fun for people, give it a shot and see how they respond, but don't ignore it just because you're busy.
I want to build a server where people can learn about something.
We love the type of servers where education takes the forefront and collaboration is key.
Maybe you're a teacher who wants to use Minecraft in a classroom or after-school program, or a non-profit trying to raise awareness about a passionate issue.
Whatever your goals are, Minecraft is a great tool that can be used to educate and engage with people who may have an easier time learning in the game than listening to a lesson.
We've seen everything from museums to school districts use Minecraft to teach, and we encourage you to try it out! There are some things to keep in mind, though, just as with other server types.
For one thing, it's a good idea to find someone who knows Minecraft well to help you organize and run the server. Part of what people (and kids) respect about "educational servers" is that the server is run by people who also clearly enjoy the game for what it is. When used in a classroom, kids become more interested in the lessons they're learning when the instructor also knows what's going on. (Editor's Note: Speaking from experience here as a Minecraft club instructor at different schools.)
Plus, the more you know about the game, the more things you'll learn how to customize and adapt to suit your needs. Sure, you can build pyramids in the game to teach students about Egypt, but do you know the power of datapacks and mods?
You can add some that will progress time and change the world in front of your students' eyes to give them a more hands-on experience with the lesson.
Another unfortunate negative: You WILL get trolls and griefers if you keep your server publicly accessible. Be prepared for that by having team members watching the players in case you get targeted by the toxic side of the internet. Don't forget to keep backups handy, too!
I want to host an event that a lot of people are hyped to join.
While most Minecraft servers are online 24/7 and meant to be played any time that someone wants to join, sometimes what you're wanting to host is a one-time event that everyone will join at the same time.
There are actually more of these event-type servers than you may realize, and they vary in size and scope. Cubed! Con is an in-game convention with booths and panelists, just like a real-life convention, that raises money for charity once a year. Minecraft Saturdays is a weekly competitive event with a cash prize. And many YouTubers have launched short-term servers for their fans to compete in build battles and other games.
We recently hosted an event server to do 1.15 pre-release testing over on SnapshotMC. Not the most "fun" event since it was focused on the technical aspects of improving Minecraft, but still an event!
The most important thing to keep in mind about an event server is that even though it's only open for a short amount of time, it still takes a lot of work. In fact, it might take even more work because you only get ONE chance to get it right.
Test everything that you can think of, with everyone that you can trust, to make sure the bugs and kinks are all worked out. Start promoting and marketing the event weeks, if not months ahead of time to keep it in people's minds and get them excited about the big reveal. Find the best builders that you can to make the server look spectacular and blow the minds of everyone who joins.
You want visitors to be talking about the event after it's over so that they are excited to join you again the next time you launch.
The biggest struggle for most events is getting people to actually join on the day of, but the reverse can also be true. Getting TOO MANY people joining a server that can't handle it can spell disaster for an event. Set your expectations properly and plan for every scenario you can think of.
A solid team of helpers will take you a long way towards being prepared for anything that can happen and getting people excited to join when it does.
I want to promote a product that I'm selling through another business.
Sorry, friend, but this answer isn't going to make you happy.
A lot of businesses and sales people like to try and find ways to use Minecraft to promote products which are unrelated to the game. In theory it's a good idea, but according to Minecraft's EULA, that's simply not allowed (without permission). Check out their full Brand Usage and Commercial Guidelines to see why they don't want businesses to do this.
So... what kind of server do you want to run?
Maybe you like one of the above options, or maybe you have an idea for something else. Minecraft is a vast sandbox for bringing your creative ideas to life, and we love to see people do amazing things with their servers.
As we move forward in this series, we're going to tackle other questions like, "What version of Minecraft should my server run?" and "What mods are best for XYZ type server?". Hopefully today we've given you some food for thought on your journey towards Minecraft Server Owner success.
What do you think? Did we leave something out? Do you have advice that you'd like to give to other server owners looking to launch their first project?
Leave a comment down below so we can hear from you!