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The Difference between Java and Bedrock Editions

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. And before you ask, it’s not vanilla. 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 are the differences between them? If you’ve been wondering the same thing, good news: I did the research so that you don’t have to! Let’s take this step by step:

DEVICES FOR JAVA AND BEDROCK

When looking at a game, the most important aspect to take into account is whether it runs on the platform(s) that you own. Minecraft: Java Edition is only available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Minecraft: Bedrock Edition is available on Windows 10 and 11, Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, PlayStation 4 and 5, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile. 

Can I get both Java and Bedrock Edition?

If you own a Windows 10 or 11 PC, you can also get the Java & Bedrock Edition, which (as its name very subtly suggests) contains both for the price of one! Plus, owning one edition entitles you to get the other one for free. For more info, check out our Java and Bedrock Edition FAQ.

UPDATES AND EARLY ACCESS ON JAVA AND BEDROCK

Both Java and Bedrock receive the same major updates consistently. However, there is a difference when it comes to accessing development versions of the games. Why is this important? Not only is it super cool to see new features early, but then you can also feel smug around your friends when the update officially releases and you already know everything about them. Just kidding, be nice to your friends.

How to access features early on Java Edition

Let’s dive into the differences. The Java Edition periodically receives updates called snapshots, which are essentially testing versions of the game, more accurately known as early development versions. They’re a great way to experience new content early, but they can also corrupt your world, so you should always, ALWAYS back up your worlds before you try them. It’s very easy to break things so to be extra safe, you might even want to use a completely new world. Installing snapshots 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.

Speaking of getting new content before it’s released, in Java Edition you also have the Experimental Features toggle. As you’d expect, this nifty little switch allows you to introduce pre-release features to your game. Because these features can be unstable and cause trouble in your game, they’re only available in the options when you create a new world. You can read the dedicated article for more info about Experimental Features.

Another neat thing about Java Edition is that you can choose to play any release version of the game, from the latest update to classic milestones like Update Aquatic or the Village & Pillage update. For some players, less is more, and Java Edition allows them to relive simpler times in the world of Minecraft. All you need to do is choose your desired version from the Installations tab in the Launcher. On Bedrock Edition, however, you can only play the latest stable version or beta/preview. Speaking of Bedrock...

How to access features early on Bedrock Edition

In Bedrock Edition, testing versions of the game are called previews (for most platforms) or beta releases (on Android). Let’s take them one at a time, starting with Android betas.

Just like the Java snapshots, Android betas can be unstable, so you should back up your worlds before opting in. You also won’t have access to Realms or be able to join non-beta players. To opt in and out of the beta program, you have to go to the Minecraft page of the Google Play Store. 

Previews are available on Xbox One, Xbox Series S and X, iOS, and Windows 10 and 11. You can only access these through a dedicated app called Minecraft Preview, which is separate from the main game, so you won’t have to worry about affecting your existing worlds. However, please keep in mind that these builds are still a work in progress, so you might experience some bugs. You can find more information about previews and installing the app on various platforms in the Minecraft Preview FAQ.

MULTIPLAYER SERVERS ON JAVA AND BEDROCK

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 multiplayer in splitscreen.

CROSSPLAY ON JAVA AND BEDROCK

Crossplay is important if you want to play online with friends that use different gaming devices. While both editions 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 access to both editions (either you can get the Java & Bedrock Edition on Windows 10/11 or you own multiple devices), then of course, you will be able to play with friends on both editions. Just know that you still have to switch between editions based on who you want to play with. So check which version your friends are on before you choose which game to launch!

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 ON JAVA AND BEDROCK

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 subscription to Java Realms includes a monthly selection of free content, created by the community. Likewise, your Realms Plus subscription includes access to 150+ pieces of free content from the Minecraft Marketplace, including adventures, skins, maps, and more.

Both of 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 (there’s a maximum of 10) 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 ON JAVA AND BEDROCK

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 lizard-person? As my online friends always say: "A Realm without space lizard-people is not a Realm worth playing in.”

In addition to Minecraft Marketplace, Bedrock Edition players can also enjoy add-ons. These give them the ability to change the way things in the game look and behave, either by making their own add-ons or downloading community-created ones. For example, an add-on can make a chicken rideable, or make it explode like a creeper. But that’s only a small example of what add-ons can do, so make sure you check out our Add-Ons FAQ to learn more.

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.

Cristina Anderca
Written By
Cristina Anderca
Published

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