Sea of Thieves launches for Windows 10 and Xbox One on March 20. Developers Rare will spend the first few months focused on making sure everything is smooth sailing, but they are planning to release the first big update a few months down the line. That update will introduce microtransactions to the game.
“Our plans for launch is to deliver a good game experience, and so all our efforts are going to be on making sure everyone’s happy, we’re reacting to feedback if there are any issues, etc,” executive producer Joe Neate explains. “But then, as we move into our service-based game - think about a month or two after launch - we’re thinking about our first major update that has new goals for people to achieve, new rewards and stuff.”
Those new goals and rewards will be free because Rare do not believe in separating their playerbase through DLC. All major updates will be completely free.
“But we have to have an optional way for people to spend money in our game, because we are running it as a service with a large team,” Neate says. “So we looked at the right way to do this for Sea of Thieves. The people who love our game, have been playing it for ages, and are happy to spend money on things that they love and the hobby that they enjoy - what feels right for our game? So anything we add in this area won’t affect power, won’t affect progression. You’ll know what you’re getting, so you will be buying something specific.”
In other words, there will not be any loot boxes. Instead, you will be able to purchase a pet. These pets do not offer a mechanical advantage, though they will bolster the game’s social nature, your pet interacting with your avatar and your crew.
“It’s fun for everyone, regardless of whether they were the one who bought it or not,” Neate explains. “So if I have a monkey, I can hold it, because it’s a monkey and we can hold most things in our game. But you could also hold it, then you could run off and drop it over the side [of the ship] because that's funny.
“I fundamentally want to fire animals out of cannons because it will be very funny. But obviously they won’t get hurt, and they will come back. But we want people to be able to piss about. It’s that social play and hijinx. We want to add stuff in that’s completely optional and just adds to the fun. It’s emotional value rather than mechanical value.”
When asked if these pets will only be available via microtransaction, the response was a bit fuzzy.
“There will be a chance of acquiring them other ways, but we’re not going to go, ‘you can earn everything by playing’, the way some people claim, even though you have to play for 60,000 hours or something,” Neate says. “There will be a chance to acquire some of this stuff in the game, by rewards and chance, but if you want to guarantee a specific pet then you have to buy.”