Sea of Thieves is Rare's biggest game in a long while, a fact made evident in a new interview with Rare that shows just how focused the UK-based developer is on its online pirate adventure game. Rare has four teams dedicated to creating content updates for Sea of Thieves, and Rare says it will "never charge for those content releases[.]"
In a new interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Rare design director Mike Chapman explained how Rare learned to keep content flowing to Sea of Thieves. Each content expansion is handled by a different team and there are four teams working on an expansion at once. The team for Hungering Deep, the first expansion for Sea of Thieves, are working on an update that will follow Forsaken Shores, while the Cursed Sails team is working on an expansion after theirs. A fourth team is working on an unannounced update for the end of the year.
Now only does that mean the teams have more time to work on their content updates, but the development cycle allows for a new update every six to eight weeks. "We actually have more people working on the game now than we did before launch," Chapman says. And what's more, players won't pay for these regular updates.
"We will never charge for those content releases, because that would segregate our players," says Chapman. "We took decisions around never having power progression in the game... because otherwise you'd reach the stage where certain people couldn't play together."
Sea of Thieves released its first expansion, The Hungering Deep, at the end of May. It was developed in two months and added the Megaladon shark where players had to work together to take down. The purpose of the update, other than adding a giant shark you can fight, was to get players to work together. And it worked. "The fascinating thing was the game became so friendly within those two weeks," said Chapman."
The next two expansions, Cursed Sails and Forsaken Shores, were announced at E3 2018 with the latter arriving in September. Cursed Sails adds PvE islands where players fight against skeleton hordes, while Forsaken Shores adds hostile, volcanic islands and actually raises the difficulty for the first time in the game.
If Rare is focusing hard on Sea of Thieves, it's because the game is a huge success for the studio. When we spoke to Rare at E3, the devs revealed that the turnover of players who were introduced to Sea of Thieves through Xbox Game Pass and later purchased the game was very high, though streaming was the overall most important factor for the game.
For more on Sea of Thieves check out our complete Sea of Thieves starters guide for the best tips and tricks to get you onto the seas