Those who have played Minecraft for some time are likely familiar with the pause menu. One of the menu’s buttons is labeled “Open to LAN,” but what exactly does it do?
The answer is fairly simple, yet the workings of the actual feature are somewhat more complex.
Open to LAN allows you to host a multiplayer game on your local area network (LAN) and have your friends and fellow players join the game. This can be achieved directly from your own device without the need to host a server.
However, to open your game to LAN, you’ll still need to be connected to a network that has internet functionality.
You can open a game to LAN in both Java and Bedrock Editions of Minecraft
At its core, hosting a LAN game in Minecraft isn’t quite like hosting a server or realm. LAN games utilize your own router or modem and open the necessary ports to allow any player who is also connected to the same hardware to access the game. One can open a game to LAN in both Java and Bedrock Editions, either through menus or by using the /publish command in Java Edition.
Once your Minecraft world has been opened to LAN, a user datagram protocol (UDP) is broadcasted at the local network address 22.214.171.124:4445 every one and a half seconds. This broadcast can be picked up by other machines running Minecraft on the same network, which is what allows players to join your world.
Sometimes, it may also be necessary to provide the opened port when the game opens up for LAN to ensure your fellow players can access it.
It is possible to expand the number of players you can facilitate in a Minecraft LAN game through commands or editing your world settings. However, it’s important not to put too much strain on your network.
Each connection consumes a certain amount of bandwidth to facilitate gameplay. Overloading a LAN game with players can end in a very laggy and undesirable experience for all involved.
Think of LAN games much like you would hosting a small server. Make sure you don’t overburden your resources (bandwidth, RAM usage, etc.), and you can enjoy multiplayer without needing to fuss with server .jar files or subscribing to Realms.
Since LAN uses a player’s connected network and hardware to facilitate connections, it’s important to know the limits of your devices to avoid any problematic connection issues.
There are even third-party applications that can take LAN-hosted worlds online. However, these options (such as Hamachi) should be used with caution to avoid any unintended consequences.
Overall, opening your single-player game to LAN is a great way to enjoy it when playing in the same home or space. If you like to keep your circle small and enjoy a smaller-scale multiplayer experience, invite a few friends over and open a game to LAN.