Sea of Thieves Owes Its Success to More Than Just Xbox Game Pass, Rare Says

"The number one thing that contributed to [Rare's] success was streaming and content creators."

Rare found a hit on its hands with Sea of Thieves, a live-service adventure game where players explore the seven seas as jolly pirates. While the launch of Sea of Thieves was notable for being Rare's first new IP launch in years, the release was also a big coming out for Xbox Game Pass, the debut of Microsoft allowing subscribers day one access to Xbox first party games like Sea of Thieves for $9.99 a month.

So when Sea of Thieves became a hit, it was interesting to see how Game Pass may have contributed to Sea of Thieves' success. But according to Rare producer Joe Neate, the real driver of players to Sea of Thieves was another in-house Microsoft app: Mixer, along with streaming services in general.

"I think [Game Pass] was part of the success. We beat all of our sales numbers that we had planned. We literally—I won't go into what specifically our sales numbers were because that's confidential—but [...] we had a target to hit by the end of June, which we hit in day one of sales," Neate tells us. "It was fascinating because we were the first [Xbox first-party offered day one on Game Pass]. And, like, for the most part you kind of never want to be the first. You want to learn from someone else on things like that."

However according to Neate, "The number one thing that contributed to [Rare's] success was streaming and content creators, like above all else." Breaking down some stats, Neate explains that, "You could see it almost just in terms of when people were streaming, the number of streamers, the number of people viewing and all that stuff correlated to our playerbase."

One of the big indicators that streaming, not Game Pass, was getting people interested in Sea of Thieves was a closed beta Rare had for Sea of Thieves. To join, players needed to pre-order the game from Microsoft, and even then the game was under a strict NDA. But when Rare lifted that NDA and players began streaming Sea of Thieves in closed beta, pre-orders for the game jumped.

"We thought this would be a barrier to people coming into the closed beta because we wanted to maintain the numbers and tests and then suddenly we got loads more people in during it. [...] So yeah, of all the things it was that."

Sea of Thieves and Game Pass did make for a good partnership for both platforms. Neate reveals that Rare had a high conversion rate for people because of the free 10-day trial for Game Pass. "We saw really high conversion of people who came in, played Sea of Thieves, and then either bought the game or signed up to Game Pass," Neate says.

We will have a full interview with Neate and Rare senior designer Shelley Preston later today focusing on Sea of Thieves and Xbox Game Pass. But with next-gen consoles looming, it's good to get insight from a first-party studio keyed into Microsoft's process about the next Xbox hardware. For more, check out our recap of Microsoft's E3 2018 press conference and our full E3 guide.

Tagged with E3 2018, Microsoft, News, PC, Rare, Xbox Game Pass, Xbox One.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Read this next

Xbox One S All-Digital "Maverick" Console Reportedly Releasing on May 7

Microsoft's rumored console hasn't been announced yet, but it's taking shape regardless.

More News

Halo: The Master Chief Collection PC Public Test Delayed Until After E3

Master Chief is a little pre-occupied right now.

More on PC

Starting Screen | Why 2019 Has Thus Far Been an Underwhelming Year for Games

After being spoiled for two solid years, we've hit a major lull. Will it get better in the second half?

Technicolor Dystopias: Why the Colorful Wastelands of Rage 2, Far Cry New Dawn, and Fallout 76 Are Suddenly Popular

We talk to the developers behind these colorful post-apocalypses and explore the history behind the trend.

Console Players Finally Beat The Division 2's Raid, But Ubisoft Says Tweaks Could Be Coming

If you want to beat the raid, you should probably set aside a day.

Report: Treyarch Takes Over Call of Duty 2020, Will Be Reworked Into A New Black Ops Game

It will reportedly be a Cold War-era game, with a single-player mode this time.

Dauntless Weapon Types - Swords, Axes, Repeaters, Chain Blades, Hammers, War Pikes Guide

Our full Dauntless weapons guide, containing information on swords, axes, chain blades, hammers, and war pikes.