Sea of Thieves will ditch its monthly update schedule and move to a Fortnite-style seasonal model starting next year, Rare creative director Mike Chapman announced in a new update to players.
“After a year of updating the game [monthly], we’re moving to a new way,” Chapman said. “So from January, seasons are coming to Sea of Thieves with a few piratey twists.” Each season will last approximately three months and kick off with a new piece of content or activity. During these periods Rare will continue to patch the game and run live events. Most significantly, there will be a premium battle pass called the Plunder Pass players can pay for to earn extra rewards as they progress through each season.
“What’s really exciting for us is that outside of the trading Company progression system that’s already there you can feel that sense of progress each time you play,” Chapman said. “So even if you don’t finish the adventure you’re on or finish your Voyages, you still feel that tangible sense of progress when you play Sea of Thieves.”
Spurred on by the success of Fortnite, other live games like Destiny 2 and Fallout 76 have re-oriented their updates around seasonal battle passes as well. Letting players grind for the rewards they want was originally an antidote to the frustration of luck-based rewards like loot boxes, but some battle passes have taken on a tedium all their own. The meta progression from rank one to 100 can provide a satisfying excuse to keep playing. It can also be an effective way for developers to pad out slim content updates. It remains to be seen how grindy Sea of Thieves’ Plunder Pass ends up being.
All the new content will still be available for free to players who’ve bought the game. It remains to be seen if the Plunder Pass will offer anything more than cosmetics.
According to Rare, 11 million people played the game this year, with Sea of Thieves’ Steam launch accounting for one million new players within its first month.