Sea of Thieves is a 2018 action-adventure game developed by Rare and published by Xbox Game Studios. The player assumes the role of a pirate who completes voyages from different trading companies in order to become the ultimate pirate legend. Sea of Thieves is a first-person multiplayer video game in which players cooperate with each other to explore an open world via a pirate ship. The game is described as a “shared world adventure game”, which means groups of players will encounter each other regularly during their adventures, sometimes forming alliances, sometimes going head-to-head.
The game was first conceptualized in 2014. Rare was inspired by players of PC titles such as Eve Online, DayZ and Rust, who used the tools provided by these games to create their own personal stories. The company explored different settings for the game, such as vampires and dinosaurs, though it eventually settled on the pirate theme, drawing inspirations from films including Pirates of the Caribbean and The Goonies. The game features a progression system that only unlocks cosmetic items as the development team wanted to encourage both casual and experienced players to play together. Compared to Rare’s other games, Sea of Thieves’s development process was more transparent, with Rare inviting fans to test the game’s early builds.
Microsoft released the game in March 2018 for Windows and Xbox One; it was also one of the earliest first-party games released for Xbox Game Pass subscribers. The game received generally mixed reviews upon release, with critics praising the game’s ship combat, multiplayer gameplay, visuals, and game physics.
Criticisms were directed at the game’s lack of content, progression, and shallow gameplay. Rare envisioned the title as a “game as a service” and released numerous content updates after the game’s release.1 The game is a commercial success and has attracted more than 15 million players as of July 2020. It also became the most successful new intellectual property (IP) Microsoft have released in the generation. An enhanced version of the game also released for Xbox Series X/S in November 2020