Sales numbers are easy headline grabbers, but it’s the connection pirates are forging in Sea of Thieves that jumps out in today’s blog post from Rare Studio Head Craig Duncan.
Microsoft isn’t a fan of giving out hard numbers anymore, but Duncan does describe Sea of Thieves as the “fastest-selling first-party new IP of this generation.” Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg notes the sales numbers do not include those of us playing via Game Pass. We’ll probably never know for sure, but surely the Game Pass numbers are higher. Why pay $60 when you can play it for $10?
2 million+ players jumped aboard their pirate ship in the first week. Rare’s pirate adventure is light on content, but they made a big bet on the social gameplay carrying the game. And so far, that bet is paying off. 500,000+ new Xbox Live friendships have been made and over 400,000 players have joined an Xbox Club recruit new crewmates.
Even after several closed beta tests and an open beta, the response to Sea of Thieves appears to have caught Rare and Microsoft off guard.
“We know the response has led to some scale challenges and exposed some bugs we have addressed and will continue to address,” writes Duncan. “Please know that the team at Rare is working hard to tackle any player-impacting issues and this is our number one priority.”
Hell, every big game launch seems to run into issues these days. I can’t think of a popular multiplayer-focused game that didn’t have issues in its first week.
Hopefully, Rare gets the connection kinks sorted soon and starts laying out their vision for the future. Sea of Thieves is light on content. More importantly, it’s light on structure.
Trading cannon salvos with another pirate crew (and stealing all their chests) is one my favorite gaming memories in recent years. The social interaction between pirate crews is where Sea of Thieves shines. Rare needs to focus on ways to bring pirates together. Toss in a huge NPC ship where pirates have to work together to destroy. Or maybe a hurricane that spawns up periodically with a massive eye in the middle where ships are safe.
Sea of Thieves gives you a ton of freedom, but there still needs to be a nudge to bring players together.
The most popular games out right now (PUBG and Fortnite) shows you don’t need traditional progression systems to be successful. But both games have gameplay systems that push players together. I’m not saying turn Sea of Thieves into a battle royale game, but Rare has to find ways to bring players together. Whether it be co-op focused or PvP, or a mixture of both.
Sea of Thieves sits at #6 on Xbox One’s most played games chart, ahead of Call of Duty: WWII. Rare has something special here. We just have to wait and see how they build off of it in the weeks and months ahead.