Java or Bedrock Edition
Which one should you choose?
My friends have stopped asking me out for ice cream because I always spend at least 30 minutes deciding which flavor I’m going to get – not to mention I always get the same one in the end anyway. So you can imagine the conundrum when I first realized that not only is Minecraft available for almost every current-gen platform (and more) but it also comes in two versions: Java Edition and Bedrock Edition.
But what do these names mean? And what is the difference between them, if there are any? If you’ve been wondering the same thing, good news: I did the research so you don’t have to. Let’s take this step by step:
When looking at a game, the most important aspect to take into account is whether it runs on the platform(s) that you own. While the Java Edition is only available on Windows, Mac, and Linux, you can get the Bedrock Edition on Windows 10 and 11, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, PlayStation 4 and 5, Nintendo Switch, Fire OS/TV, Android, iOS, Windows Mobile and Samsung Gear VR. Once you’ve looked into it, it definitely becomes more straightforward. Basically, you can only run both editions if you either 1) have a PC running Windows 10 or 11, or 2) own multiple platforms, one of which is a PC or a Mac. Otherwise, you might as well stop wasting precious mining time with this article and just get the game, because only one of the two editions will run on your device.
And if you game on a Windows 10 or 11 PC, there’s even better news. Not only can you run either edition, but you will be able to get them together when the Minecraft: PC Bundle launches on Xbox Game Pass for PC. Both the Bedrock and Java Edition will be included in your subscription, and you will be able to start both from the same launcher.
Gameplay updates and early access
Both Java and Bedrock receive the same major updates consistently. However, there is a difference when it comes to accessing early versions of the games. Why is this important? Not only is it super cool to see new features early, but then you can also be smug about it when your friends discover them only when they’re officially released. Just kidding, be nice to your friends.
Let’s dive into the differences. The Java Edition periodically receives updates called snapshots, which are testing versions of the game. They’re a great way to experience new content early, but they can also corrupt your world, so you should back up your worlds before you try them. They will also restrict you from playing on Realms. To install snapshots, you just have to open the Minecraft Launcher and enable them in the Installations tab. After that, your game will update every time a snapshot comes out – and you’ll always be one step ahead of your friends. Well, unless they do the same thing.
In the Bedrock Edition, testing versions of the game are called beta releases. It’s important to note that you can only access them on Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, Windows 10, Windows 11, and Android. Just like the Java snapshots, betas can be unstable and you should definitely back up your worlds before opting in. As a result, you won’t have access to Realms or be able to join non-beta players. To opt in and out, go to the Xbox Insider Hub app (Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, and Windows 10 and 11) or the Minecraft page of the Google Play Store. If I did a terrible job of explaining it, you can also check out guides for Java snapshots and Bedrock betas in our help center.
There are some differences in terms of how servers are accessed. In Bedrock Edition, there is a list of featured servers that require a Microsoft account to join, while in Java Edition you can access a variety of third-party servers. In both editions, you can also create your own server. Learn more about creating your own Java server here or read about private servers in Bedrock here.
Want to invite your friends over or play with your family? Then you should know that only the console versions of Bedrock support local splitscreen.
Crossplay is important if you want to play online with friends. While both versions support online multiplayer, they use different servers. This means that Java and Bedrock players can’t play together – so make sure to ask your friends which version they have. If you have Windows 10 or 11, you have access to both editions, but you still have to switch between editions based on who you want to play with. Plus, in the upcoming Minecraft: PC Bundle, which you can only access through Game Pass for PC for now, you get both editions in one launcher. But again, you have to choose which game to launch depending on what edition your friends are playing.
If you’re choosing between Bedrock for different platforms, one important aspect to consider is that online play on consoles can typically only be accessed via special subscriptions like Xbox Live Gold, PlayStation Plus, or Nintendo Switch Online. On PC, the only thing you need to play online is an internet connection.
Realms and Realms Plus are both official subscription-based server hosting services that allow players to create their own private servers. The main difference between them is the game version: Realms is for Java and Realms Plus is for Bedrock. A big perk that only comes with Realms Plus is access to free Minecraft Marketplace maps and skins – right now there are over 100 pieces of content and more are added each month!
These services are awesome because they make it really easy to host your own server – you don’t need any prior knowledge. You can even choose from a list of pre-made templates and minigames to make your world more interesting. Just keep in mind that Realms are not meant for a large number of players, so don’t go inviting the entire Minecraft subreddit to your server. I wish I could say that I tried it once and it resulted in some hilarious hijinks, but my post didn’t get any upvotes.
Mods and content
The Java Edition is known among long-time players for how open and customizable it is. There are many websites that offer third-party content, which ranges from skins to maps and even mods that change the game mechanics. I even saw one mod that smoothed down the blocks into regular terrain. It made me cry. But anyway, Java is perfect for experienced players who want to customize their game and also possess some technical knowledge – or are at least willing to learn about mods.
Younger or less technically adept players might find that the Java Edition has a steep learning curve when it comes to customization. While the Minecraft community is a wholesome place, third-party websites can host a variety of content, some of which can change your game dramatically or is simply not appropriate for younger audiences. That’s not to say that Java Edition is lacking in terms of quality creator content – on the contrary, there are some amazing mods out there and the openness of the platform allows you to customize your experience in incredible ways. You just need to do a little research before starting your modding journey.
The Bedrock Edition makes things a bit more straightforward. It has its own content store called Minecraft Marketplace, which is curated so you can be sure that all of the content there is consistently high quality. While this limits the selection, it’s a small compromise for players (and parents of players) that are looking for a more catered approach to creator content. Plus, with the Character Creator included in the Bedrock Edition, players can natively customize their character to their heart’s content, from high fashion outfits and space suits to lizard skins and everything in-between. But does the world really need a space lizardman? As my online friends always say: "A Realm without space lizardmen is not a Realm worth playing in.”
Hopefully, this article has made the distinction between the two editions of Minecraft clearer for you. Depending on what kind of player you are, one or the other might be better suited for you. Maybe your platform restricts you to either Java or Bedrock, which takes the choice out of your hands. But in the end, no matter which version you end up with, you’ll still be able to experience what makes Minecraft such an amazing game: getting lost in an Enderman’s eyes.
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- Cristina Anderca