Every Minecraft download and the differences between them

The right Minecraft download, or rather the right version of Minecraft to download, is going to change depending on who you are, though for most people downloading whichever version is most promoted on your console or platform of choice should be enough. Problem is, every version of Minecraft has its own reasons to download it or not to download it, as the game has gone through various iterations over the years and most of them are still available – making it difficult to know which one you should be getting.

Aside from all the console and platform downloads, the various varieties of Minecraft offer different experiences and capabilities, and they’re not all compatible with each other. Java is solely for PCs and can be more extensively modified, while Bedrock is more cross-platform and friendlier to use for most players – but these are only broad explanations. Either way you’re going to need to start by making a Microsoft account (opens in new tab), and from there you can decide how you’re going to play and what you’re going to download. Whichever version you choose, there’ll be several different modes to choose from:

  • Creative – creating and building, no danger
  • Survival – challenges, restrictions, enemies
  • Adventure – a mix of both Creative and Survival mode
  • Hardcore – ultimate survival test, limited health and resources. (Only available in Minecraft Java Edition.) 

Depending on the edition you choose to play, you will be able to choose from different servers. Those playing via Bedrock will be able to play across platforms, whereas Java will only be able to play on dedicated Java servers. 

Now, let’s take a look at all the key Minecraft downloads you can get and the differences between them. 

Minecraft classic

Minecraft classic

Minecraft classic

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Minecraft classic is a free to play browser version of the classic game (opens in new tab). Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the game in 2019, Mojang released the first version of the game for free, allowing long term players and newer players to enjoy the original version of the game. 

The game is multiplayer, with up to 9 friends being able to play, via a shared link. However, there is no way to save any progress in this version. Once the tab is closed you start over from the beginning.

  • Mods – No, this is a browser game and therefore cannot be modified
  • Skins –  No, there is no in-game marketplace to make purchases 
  • Realms – No. Realms are not available via this version, however, you can still play with friends

Minecraft Java edition

Minecraft Java edition

Minecraft java edition

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Minecraft Java edition is only available on computer (opens in new tab). You can download it on either PC, Mac or Linux. This version is not cross-play compatible, however, there are a ton of multiplayer servers available, allowing you to play with a magnitude of other players. 

Speaking of servers, Java edition has a vast range of servers, allowing players to play different survival modes, mini-games and even have private servers. This version gives you a limitless amount of choice. 

  • Mods – Yes, Modifications can be done on the Java edition, they can change texture, visual designs and pretty much any aspect of the game. 
  • Skins – Yes, skins can be purchased or downloaded and installed into this version of the game
  • Realms – Yes 

Minecraft Education Edition

Minecraft Education Edition

Minecraft Education Edition

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Minecraft Education Edition brings all the fun of Minecraft but focused towards educational purposes (opens in new tab). The game is loaded with coding, problem-solving games and math developed for kids and intended to be used in schools. This edition offers ready-made lessons and starter kits, which have different modes, starter worlds and training scenarios. 

This version can be installed on PC/Mac and Chromebook. It’s free to download and can be accessed by an office 365 account. A server allows up to 30 people to join, perfect for large classes. 

  • Mods – Yes, however, they are limited. 
  • Skins –  Yes, via online download, but the in-game marketplace is not available. 
  • Realms – No, however servers allow up to 30 people to join. 

Free Minecraft

Free Minecraft

Free Minecraft

(Image credit: Microsoft)

While Minecraft Classic is free it’s a limited incarnation of the game. There a free Minecraft trial on nearly every platform (opens in new tab) for anyone interested in trying out a more up to date version of the game. The free trial is available on Windows 10, Android, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Vita, although trial lengths are different for each platform. The Java editions for PC, Mac and Linux also offer a free trial. However, the Java free trial is always set to survival mode and limits the player’s time to interact with the game world.

  • Mods – No, modifications are only available via the Java Edition 
  • Skins –  No, the free trial version of this game does not have access to the in-game store 
  • Realms – Yes, however, because this is a free trial, without purchasing the full game and paying for the realm you won’t be able to access it without purchasing the full game and continuing your realm subscription. 

Minecraft Pocket Edition

Minecraft Pocket Edition

Minecraft Pocket Edition

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Minecraft Pocket Edition is the mobile platform for the game. For those of you always on the go and need a version of Minecraft easily accessible, the mobile version is for you. It is available on Android, iOS, iPad OS, Fire OS, Windows 10 Mobile & Galaxy store. The Pocket Edition also enables multiplayer, with up to 5 friends cross-platform. 

iOS (opens in new tab) | Android (opens in new tab) | iPad OS (opens in new tab) | Google Play (opens in new tab)

  • Mods – No, modifications are only available via the Java Edition
  • Skins –  Yes, available via skin packs, and online downloads
  • Realms – Yes, however friends can only join if they are using a compatible device. 

Minecraft Nintendo Switch

Minecraft Nintendo Switch

Minecraft Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Nintendo Switch Minecraft uses the Bedrock edition (opens in new tab). Like the pocket edition, the Nintendo Switch is a versatile device for on the go or at home. This version comes with the perks of being a handheld but allowing cross-play with consoles. The switch version supports eight players online, eight players locally and a four-player split-screen on a single Switch, however, online cross-play will require you to have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. 

  • Mods – No, modifications are only available via the Java Edition
  • Skins – Yes, only available via in-game store marketplace 
  • Realms – Yes, however, it is only available with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription

Minecraft PS4/PS5

Minecraft PS4/PS5

Minecraft PS4

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Minecraft PS4 is the Bedrock Edition (opens in new tab), which allows players to download a free trial before committing to purchasing the full game. The PS4 version allows you to play with up to 4 players, however, a PS Plus subscription is needed to play online with friends and can support up to 8 players. 

There is no PS5 Edition of Minecraft at time of writing, though that doesn’t mean you can’t play it on a PS5. The PS4 version works completely fine on the more modern model, so just download that and get to creeper-killing.

  • Mods – No, modifications are only available via the Java Edition
  • Skins –  Yes, available via in-game store marketplace and skin packs 
  • Realms – Yes, PlayStation offers realms plus subscription, which allows you to play with up to 10 players, cross-platform with new content added each month.

Minecraft Xbox Series X and Minecraft Xbox One

Minecraft Xbox Series X and Minecraft Xbox One 

Minecraft Xbox Series X and Minecraft Xbox One

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Minecraft is also the Bedrock Edition (opens in new tab) and is available for purchase with different collections or free via an Xbox game pass subscription. This is only available on console and not Xbox games pass PC.  This version comes with massive multiplayer servers and news features like infinite worlds and cross-platform play for up to eight players and split-screen play for you to build with friends.

  • Mods – No
  • Skins –  Yes, available via in-game store marketplace and skin packs
  • Realms – Yes, Xbox offer a realm subscription is available, you can choose from two recurring monthly options:
    • Realms: A personal server that allows you to play with up to two additional players
    • Realms Plus: A personal server for up to ten additional players and a catalogue of Minecraft Marketplace content

Minecraft Xbox 360

Minecraft Xbox 360

Minecraft Xbox 360

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Minecraft Xbox 360 is old and is no longer receiving new game update (opens in new tab)s but it is still available for purchase and supports split-screen play for up to four players and with up to 8 Friends online with an Xbox Live membership. 

  • Mods – No, modifications are not available on this console. 
  • Skins –  No, skins are no longer available for purchase as there is no in-game marketplace
  • Realms – No, Xbox 360 does not have realm support installed as it is not the Bedrock Edition and does not have in-game purchases. 

Minecraft The Wild update | Minecraft enchanting | Minecraft House | Minecraft Netherite | Minecraft Netherite tools | Minecraft Netherite armor | Minecraft Respawn Anchor | How to tame a fox in Minecraft | How to enchant axes in Minecraft | Minecraft diamonds | Minecraft Axolotl | Minecraft Amethyst Shards | Minecraft copper | Minecraft lightning rods | Minecraft glow berries | Minecraft Allay | Minecraft Frogs | Minecraft Iron Golem 

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