It was a bit more involved than I would have guessed to get multi-player Minecraft on a single local television (split screen) working for us on the XBox 360, so I thought I'd write this blog post summarizing what we needed to do to get it to work.
Two online forums together (Xbox Forum thread Cannot play minecraft on multiplayer setting. and Ask.com thread How do i play 2 player split screen in minecraft Xbox 360 edition?) describe what needs to be done to play multi-player Minecraft.
- Connect XBox 360 directly to television with HDMI cable (would probably work through high definition receiver, but we did not try that yet).
- Change general display settings in XBox 360 (Settings -> System -> Console Settings -> Display -> HDTV Settings and select desired resolution (or choose "Optimal Resolution" to let XBox 360 decide) to specify high definition display setting (720 or better).
- Make sure that Split Screen option is enabled in Minecraft settings. You also need to make sure that, for local multiple player mode on the same television, the "Online game" option is not checked.
- Each player should connect their remote control to the console (meaning hold the center button down until the remote control and console are synched) and once each remote control is associated with the console, the players can each press "Start" to enter the game. Note that for local multi-player games, only a Local XBox Live account is required. An XBox Live Gold or XBox Live Silver account is required for online multi-player play.
With the XBox 360 console connected to the television with an HDMI cable, with the XBox 360 Console display settings configured for high definition, and with the appropriate options set in the Minecraft game itself ("Online game" unchecked and "Split Screen" checked), Minecraft worked on a split screen for multiple players. When two players played, the screen could be split horizontally or vertically.