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What Does SMP Mean in Minecraft? Explained

SMP stands for “Survival Multiplayer” in Minecraft. It refers to a multiplayer game mode where players interact and survive together on a Minecraft server.

SMP servers have grown tremendously in popularity over the years. From small friend groups to massive online communities with thousands of players, SMPs allow for endless collaborative gameplay and community building.

On an SMP server, players can build together, go on adventures, take part in economy systems, compete on leaderboards, roleplay characters, and participate in community events. The open-ended nature of Minecraft combined with multiplayer interaction creates nearly limitless possibilities.

SMPs require significant coordination and trust between players. The survival aspect means resources are limited and must be shared. Players must collectively establish rules and systems. But this teamwork also enables the creation of civilizations far bigger than any single player could build.

This article will dive into everything you need to know about SMP servers in Minecraft. We’ll cover their history, different types of SMPs, how to join one, gameplay mechanics, popular servers, and ultimately why Minecraft SMPs have become such a massive phenomenon.

What is SMP?


SMP stands for Survival Multiplayer. An SMP server is a Minecraft multiplayer server focused on survival gameplay.

On an SMP server, multiple players spawn into the same Minecraft world simultaneously. The core premise is that everyone must work together to survive and thrive. This includes:

  • Gathering resources
  • Building shelters
  • Crafting gear
  • Farming/breeding animals
  • Exploring the world
  • Fighting monsters

While players can choose to play solo on an SMP if they wish, the teamwork enabled by multiplayer survival opens up far more options.

On a typical SMP server, players:

  • Form towns, cities, and communities
  • Develop economies through trading
  • Specialize into different roles and jobs
  • Build transportation infrastructure like roads and railways
  • Pool resources to fight bosses
  • Collaborate on large projects
  • Develop complex games, events, and lore

In many ways, SMP resembles an RPG. Players take on the role of a character in a shared, persistent world. Roleplay and storytelling opportunities emerge from the interactions between these characters.

SMPs often utilize gameplay plugins and mods that expand crafting recipes, add new mechanics, and optimize performance for many players. But at their core, they follow the same survival gameplay loop as any standard Minecraft world.

There are many different sizes and types of SMP servers:

  • Small private SMPs with a handful of close friends
  • whitelist SMPs with a vetted, closed community
  • Public SMPs open to anyone, often with hundreds or thousands of total players

The open-ended multiplayer survival experience provides the foundation. Everything else is up to the community’s creativity.

Origins and History of SMP

Origins and History of SMP

SMP as we know it today emerged from Minecraft’s original Classic mode alphas and betas in 2009-2010. These early versions introduced multiplayer support and allowed survival gameplay with mining, crafting, and monster spawns.

Minecraft officially launched in November 2011. At this point, basic SMP servers began appearing, though singleplayer remained far more popular early on.

As the game rapidly grew from 2012-2014, interest in multiplayer surged. Mods like Bukkit, Spigot, and plugins like Towny introduced new possibilities for community-driven SMP experiences.

Notable early SMP servers included:

  • 2b2t – Launching in December 2010, often considered the first SMP server. It remains running with essentially no rules.
  • Mindcrack – Formed in November 2011 by YouTubers. Focused on group Let’s Plays.
  • Hypixel – Launched in April 2013. One of the first big “minigame” multiplayer servers.

However, SMP truly exploded into the mainstream with the rise of Twitch streamers and YouTubers playing Minecraft 2014-2016. Series showcasing SMP servers reached millions of viewers.

Some iconic series driving this growth included:

  • Team Crafted SMPs like Bashcraft and Crazy Craft
  • Mianite – Syndicate, CaptainSparklez, and others roleplaying characters
  • HermitCraft – Popular YouTubers playing together from 2012 through today

By the mid 2010s, Minecraft became synonymous with watching talented builders create impressive projects together on SMPs. Interest continued to surge.

2016 brought several updates that helped optimize Minecraft for large servers. This kicked off another evolution in the scale of SMP experiences.

Around this time, Dream and his circle elevated “speedrunning” and competitive SMP gameplay. Events like Minecraft Monday showed off Minecraft’s potential as an esport.

Finally, the Covid pandemic remote living renaissance and 2020-2021 “hype house” boom cemented Minecraft SMPs place in internet youth culture. Dream SMP, Origin SMPs and more brought interactive, communal game worlds to millions of viewers.

Now nearing its 10 year anniversary, Minecraft SMPs show no signs of fading. The format continues to be a dominant force in Minecraft gameplay and content creation.

How to Join an SMP Server

How to Join an SMP Server

Joining an SMP server opens up a whole new social, cooperative Minecraft experience. Here’s how to get started:

Finding an SMP Server

There are thousands of SMP servers out there to choose from. Places to find servers include:

  • Friends or content creators – Join an SMP owned by people you know
  • Minecraft Server Lists – Websites listing popular servers
  • Reddit – Subreddits like r/mcservers to find SMPs
  • Discord – Many SMPs have Discords to join and get the IP address

When browsing servers, look for details on rules, themes/mods, map types, community size, and hardware specs.

Choosing a Server Type

Main SMP types include:

  • Private – Whitelisted, close friends playing together
  • Whitelist – Apply to join a private community
  • Public – Anyone can join, often very chaotic
  • Semi-public – Public, but withapplications and screening

There are also many different gameplay styles like vanilla, semi-vanilla, roleplaying, minigames, etc.

Consider what size, style, and culture you want. A server with friends or like-minded players is ideal.

Applying to Whitelist Servers

For whitelist servers, you’ll need to apply on their website or Discord.

To get accepted, provide details on:

  • Your Minecraft experience and knowledge
  • Age and location
  • Why you want to join the server
  • How you’ll contribute to the community

Servers want engaged, collaborative players. Show your value.

Installing Required Mods

Most SMPs have required modpacks or individual mods to install.

Use the CurseForge mod manager to easily install mods listed on the server’s site or announcement channels.

Mods improve performance and add important quality-of-life features. Servers will help guide you on mod setup.

Connecting and Following Rules

Once accepted and setup with mods, connect using the provided IP address and port.

Be sure to thoroughly read and follow all server rules. Use common sense and be respectful to become a valued member.

Playing on an SMP Server

Playing on an SMP Server

Once you’ve joined an SMP, there’s a whole new Minecraft experience to discover. Here’s an overview of gameplay:

Starting Out

When first spawning into the server, you’ll want to:

  • Explore – Wander around to get the lay of the land
  • Gather resources – Wood, stone, ores, food, etc.
  • Craft basic tools and armor – Pickaxes, sword, helmet, etc.
  • Find a spot to build a starter home
  • Meet other players – Chat, trade, ask questions

Many SMPs have community centers or towns for new players to settle in. Seek these out.

As you familiarize yourself, be sure to avoid griefing or stealing. Follow all server rules.

Community Building

The heart of SMPs is interaction and teamwork with other players.

  • Join towns, nations, guilds, etc
  • Roleplay with others and develop your character
  • Make friends and form bonds
  • Build together collaboratively
  • Trade items and services

Have fun meeting people from around the world united by Minecraft!

Advancing Gear and Progression

As you progress, focus on advancing gear through activities like:

  • Mining and acquiring rare minerals
  • Farming crops and managing livestock
  • Enchanting gear at higher levels
  • Brewing potions for buffs
  • Building mob farms to gather drops

Defeat bosses like the Ender Dragon through server events.

Economy and Government

Most large SMPs have complex economy and currency systems. Engage by:

  • Selling goods and services
  • Taking jobs to earn income
  • Buying items from shops and the auction house
  • Investing in businesses and real estate

Get involved in server politics like elections, rebellions, etc.

Events and Activities

Keep an eye out for organized server events like:

  • Holiday celebrations
  • PvP tournaments
  • Building contests
  • Lore events and stories
  • Minigames and competitions

Having regular events keeps things fun and engaging.

The depth of SMPs is incredible. Find what aspects you enjoy most and fully immerse yourself!

Popular SMP Servers and Communities

Popular SMP Servers and Communities

With so many SMP servers out there, these are some of the most influential and interesting over the years:


  • One of the very first SMP servers, dating back to 2010.
  • Extremely chaotic gameplay with essentially no rules.
  • Highly infamous for extensive hacking, exploits, and toxicity between players.
  • Despite this, some incredible feats of construction and dedication.
  • Spawn area littered with destroyed monuments, signs, ect. A warzone.
  • Farther out, dedicated players have built jaw-dropping bases and world-eating farms.


  • Popular YouTuber and streamer collaborative SMP running since 2012.
  • Various iterations and seasons featuring decorated builders showcasing projects.
  • Vanilla gameplay focused on community, storytelling, and creativity.
  • Inspired many similar content creator SMPs and playstyles.

Dream SMP

  • Originated in April 2020 featuring Dream and his inner circle.
  • Rapidly grew to incorporate a rotating cast of popular internet creators and streamers.
  • Heavily roleplay and storyline driven seasons of conflict and lore.
  • Incredible viewership and cultural penetration as members streamed events.
  • Inspired massive interest and participation in similar “content creator SMPs”.


  • One of the very first SMP servers, dating back to 2010.
  • Extremely chaotic gameplay with essentially no rules.
  • Highly infamous for extensive hacking, exploits, and toxicity between players.
  • Despite this, some incredible feats of construction and dedication.
  • Spawn area littered with destroyed monuments, signs, ect. A warzone.
  • Farther out, dedicated players have built jaw-dropping bases and world-eating farms.


  • One of the largest and longest-running Minecraft minigame servers.
  • Enormous network of original minigame modes, many with complex custom programming.
  • Pioneered competitive online Minecraft gameplay and esports interest.
  • Events, leveling, achievements, and social features beyond just minigames.
  • At its peak popularity from 2013-2016, consistently had 10,000+ concurrent players online.


  • Similarly, one of the largest minigame servers, running since 2013.
  • More variety in gamemodes than Mineplex, with over 100 unique minigames.
  • Also features competitive guilds, leveling systems, player housing, and NPC questing.
  • Regularly updated with new content and gameplay innovations.
  • Remains massively popular today, often having 60,000+ concurrent players.

The SMP landscape continues to evolve. But these have cemented their legacy and influence.

Key Takeaways

  • SMP stands for Survival Multiplayer. It refers to Minecraft servers focused on open-ended cooperative survival gameplay.
  • SMPs emerged alongside early Minecraft multiplayer but exploded in popularity from 2014-2016. Livestreams and YouTube brought the teamwork on servers to huge audiences.
  • Servers range from small private worlds to massive public communities with thousands of players. Different types suit different playstyles.
  • Mods, plugins, and gameplay systems empower the community interactions that make SMP special. There is tremendous potential for creativity.
  • To join an SMP, browse server lists to find one matching your interests. Whitelisted servers require applying on their website or Discord.
  • Interact with other players, build together, roleplay, progress gear, participate in the economy, and join events. SMP gameplay is wide open.
  • Iconic servers over the years like 2b2t, Hermitcraft, and Dream SMP have pioneered various gameplay styles. SMPs continue to thrive and evolve.

SMPs represent the pinnacle of Minecraft’s community-driven, cooperative survival experience. Joining one opens up a whole new social world of play.

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