An interview with Sea of Thieves design director Gregg Mayles at E3 2016 reveals an important bit of information gamers may not be overly excited to hear.
One of the hottest games coming out of Microsoft’s E3 2016 presentation has to be Rare’s open-world pirate adventure game Sea of Thieves. The multiplayer-focused title awed audiences with its gameplay demonstration, revealing a deep and nuanced engine that lets gamers occupy roles as important as a ship’s captain and as seemingly trivial as the drunken accordion player. It’s not much of a stretch to say that fans of pirates and co-operative gameplay have been utterly entranced by what Sea of Thieves has put on offer so far.
Naturally, then, gamers have been eager to find out exactly what the online component of Sea of Thieves‘ multiplayer would entail. Unfortunately, those expecting that the title would be free-to-play once initially purchased are going to be sorely disappointed. Sea of Thieves design director Gregg Mayles shot down the idea of a free multiplayer experience in an interview with Eurogamer at E3 2016 yesterday:
“We’ve done a lot of thinking around the business model…one thing I can tell you is it’s not free-to-play. We didn’t say anything last year and then some people made stuff up, y’know, ‘it looks free to play!’ But we can clear that up – we will not be free-to-play.”
Contrary to the silence that surrounded the game after Sea of Thieves‘ E3 2015 debut, Rare has made sure to hammer home the price model of the title this time to ensure no ill-conceived rumors float around Sea of Thieves this time. Microsoft has experimented with a number of free-to-play multiplayer business models with its own titles, but those have found varying levels of success, with enough commercial failures – like Project Spark and Lionhead’s Fable Legends – that companies like Rare have likely taken notice and adjusted business models accordingly.
Interestingly, Rare didn’t have anything else to say about how Sea of Thieves would be monetised after its launch next year. All Mayles could offer in that regard was a broad design philosophy that hints towards a content release plan similar to that of Destiny or other long-term investments like The Division:
“Right from the start, we didn’t want to be this single shot release when we launch the game and say ‘thank you very much’. If we’re still adding things to the game in five years, I’ll be very happy.”
While five years might be a little optimistic for a game that hasn’t released yet, Sea of Thieves remains one of the most exciting Xbox One and PC exclusives on the horizon, and if it fulfills the promise it has shown in recent gameplay demonstrations, Mayles just might get his wish after all.
What do you think about Sea of Thieves not being free-to-play? Is it fair for developers to still take this approach to multiplayer content, or has the era of paid multiplayer business models started to fade away? Let us know in the comments below.
Sea of Thieves will release for the Xbox One and PC exclusively early in 2017.