Sea of Thieves, the forthcoming Microsoft exclusive, is being pitched as a games as a service-style game. Publisher Microsoft sees it as the sort of game that players will want to keep coming back to month after month. It comes as little surprise then, that like so many other games as a service, Sea of Thieves will also include microtransactions.
Speaking to IGN, Rare’s executive producer Joe Neate confirmed that the first major post-launch Sea of Thieves update will introduce microtransactions. This update is expected around three months after Sea of Thieves‘ launch and “anything in this area will not impact power or progression, and you’ll always know what you’re getting – so that means no loot crates,” says Neate. Given the ongoing controversy surrounding pay to win loot boxes and the debate on whether or not loot boxes are gambling, many will be glad to hear that Sea of Thieves won’t feature that mechanic.
This cosmetic content will “either be on a shoulder, like a monkey, or like a cat on the ship” or even potions that change the appearance of the player character (e.g a potion that makes them look very old). Neate also suggests that Sea of Thieves players will be able to earn the currency to unlock this content through normal play. For example, players may be able to earn premium currency as a reward for completing high-level quests, or the content could even be found in the game world. Neate also says that anything available via microtransactions will provide “emotional value, not mechanical value.”
A recent datamine of the game’s files uncovered lots more Sea of Thieves content, including new enemies and animals such as parrots, pigs, and seagulls. The leak also pointed to lots of character and ship customization, from tattoos and eyepatches to a variety of ship hulls. With the game’s microtransactions still a few months away, Rare is still working on the finer details but these datamined options do sound like the sort of cosmetic items that could be unlocked via microtransactions.
Some prospective Sea of Thieves players may question the decision to include microtransactions, but Neate has an explanation for the business model. “Ultimately I have to look at the reality of running a game-as-service as a business,” says the executive producer, adding that “My goal and everyone else’s goal here is to have as many people as possible working on this, and just keep giving people reasons to return, reasons to have fun. We have to run that like a business, you need revenue coming in.”
Neate is not the first developer to offer this explanation, with former Uncharted developer Amy Hennig also saying that loot boxes and microtransactions are a result of rising game development costs. This means that players can likely expect more microtransactions in games going forward, but many will be hoping that they follow Sea of Thieves‘ lead and only offer cosmetic unlocks.
Sea of Thieves will release on March 20, 2018, for Xbox One and Windows 10.